My Heart Failure Returned

The bad news is that my heart failure returned and needs quick intervention. The good news is that the return of heart failure made me eligible for an extra-high-tech pacemaker developed for treating heart failure. I spent much of last week in the hospital for cardiac tests and a pacemaker.

This is not the usual type of pacemaker with which most people are familiar and that has already saved millions of lives around the world. It is a combination ICD and CRT-D pacemaker about the size of a half-dollar coin.

ICD technology is like carrying an emergency room in one’s chest.  If the heart goes so far out of rhythm as to cause a fatal event, the ICD provides a hefty shock to re-stabilize the rhythm. (Imagine paddles in a hospital room reduced to chip size.)

Because the contractions of my right and left ventricles are not synchronized with each other, the CRT-D technology sends an electric signal with each beat that corrects this and makes them beat as one (how romantic). In addition, the constant re-synchronization often remodels the heart muscle over time toward that of a normal heart.

My sudden flurry of medical attention began after I sought my doctor’s approval to resume an exercise regimen.  “Not without a cardiac work-up,” replied my primary care physician.  Long story short, a stress test with echocardiogram revealed my heart function has declined dramatically.  I spent several days in the hospital being monitored before I was ready for the super-duper pacemaker.  My arteries are still nearly pristine and the pacemaker should restore some degree of confidence and restored quality of life. The cardiologists think I’m a good candidate to receive greatest benefit from this particular device.

I’m resting and recovering at home now.  Mark has been an excellent nurse and as always, a great cook.  I’m forbidden to do any kind of housework, including washing dishes, loading the dishwasher, making the bed, doing laundry, or lifting more than a pound with either hand.  Bummer.  I wonder how long I can string out the limitations on housework?

Three cardiologists marveled last week at how well I’ve managed my cardiomyopathy and heart failure for thirteen years.  They are pleased with how faithful I’ve been to exercise and lifestyle changes, and my good quality of life.  They’re also surprised by well my heart is doing beyond the issues that made the pacemaker device necessary.  They also explained that my being short-of-breath and tiring easily has not been because I was a lazy and slothful.  It was because my heart function was slipping.

I’m pleased and hopeful.  I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

27 thoughts on “My Heart Failure Returned

  1. Jeanne Hatfield

    My prayers are with you in this time of uncertainty. I m asking Jesus to give you and your family peace, comfort, and courage for the days ahead. My husband Frank underwent 6 way bypass 3 years ago, and he is doing well. Enjoy each day as much as possible, and look for things that bring joy to you dear one. Blessings, Jeanne

  2. Eric Law

    Dear Barbara, you have been in my prayers since I visit at Seattle a couple of weeks ago and learned from Mark that you were in the process of being outfitted with the super pacemaker. I am glad to know that you are recovering and please “pace” yourself and keeping up the pace. Love, Eric Law

  3. Sandy

    Am so grateful to know of your situation. How wonderful that your docs can validate all the self-care and wise choices and discipline of these years!! Saying a prayer for your freedom from housework and courage to go the distance. ❤️❤️❤️

  4. Sandy

    Am so grateful to know of your situation. How wonderful that your docs can validate all the self-care and wise choices and discipline of these years!! Saying a prayer for your freedom from housework and courage to go the distance. ❤️❤️❤️

  5. Anonymous

    Barbara , you continue to be in our prayers and wonderful memories. We are glad to hear that you are getting the help you need.l We loved getting your Christmas and New Year letter. Lots of love always from Petite and Larry Morrison

  6. Alice Saaty

    Barbara, I am happy and worried for you at the same time. Hard to believe you’ve been dealing with this for thirteen years. The procedure sounds very promising and the though if putting your line back in normal mode is exciting. Glad you are doing everything by the book. Do you know the surgery date? Like always, you and mark are in my thoughts and my prayers. I’ll feel a lot better when this whole thing is begins you. Love and best wishes.

  7. Suzanne Pecore

    Oh, what an ordeal…with such a great outcome. Fred has a very similar device, although it sounds like the technology has improved a lot. So glad you’re on the mend. We’ll be thinking of you and praying for a full recovery (but maybe without the housework?).

  8. Kathy

    Oh my, I thought I had a bad week! You are in good hands, divine ones and medical ones. No housework Miss busy bee! Keep us in touch with your progress, please. Blessings.

  9. Anonymous

    I’m sorry you have had a tough week. The Good News and Bad news seem very close. But there is an answer, that’s good news. Best advice? Keep breathing, slowly, in and out; relax. As always you are in God’s good hands, and our feeble, but mighty prayers.

  10. Sheryl Stearns and Sue Kick

    As always, you are in our thoughts and prayers. So glad you are able to go high tech. Congratulations on being able to impress the cardiologists since you have been such a diligent patient. We assume the four footers are there to keep you company when they’re not helping with their household duties God bless you.

  11. Laura Monteros

    Barbara, both you and Mark will be in my prayers. I’m glad that technology is catching up with disease! You know, the Bible study you started on Monday nights years ago is still going–we meet at Monte Vista Grove semi-monthly. We will be sure to pray for you.

  12. Elaine Rose

    Barbara, May you become healthy & well. What an ordeal – must have been scary! Sending you a hug.
    🙂 Elaine

  13. Anne Weirich

    Prayers abound my friend. My brother has on of these fancy devices. And though his heart was never as reduced in function as yours it has had an amazing effect. And he’s fairly well back to normal. Hope the same is true for you.

  14. Melinda Ayers

    Blessings on you and yours. Hopefully this device will allow you many more years of fruitful living with Mark, and much more quality time with Chris, Ken, and their families.

  15. Jane Conner

    Dear Barbara,
    I don’t know if you remember me. I am Beatrice Goddard’s daughter. You were such a wonderful minister to her and were so supportive to me and my family when she died fifteen years ago.

    I was sorry to hear about your illness and have been following your blog. I just wanted to thank you for your ministry and send you my heartfelt wishes for improvement in your health.

  16. gillhouse

    Oh Oh, I have been wondering how both of you were doing. Prayers for this part of the journey.

  17. Linda

    Hooray for the super-pacemaker! Thanks so much for the update. You’re in our thoughts and 🙏🏻🙏🏻 .


    Dear Barbara,

    Petite and I are sending you our prayers for continuing progress as you become Bionic Barbara!

    We miss you and Mark and send every good throught for your continued vitality! You are a wonderful inspiration ot us and a model for how to live.

    Be well!


    Larry and Petite

    Larry B. Morrison 478 Ellis Street Pasadena, CA 91105 mobile phone: 626-584-8944


  19. Bill Davis

    I’m so glad you are writing about this in recovery mode rather than the alternative! Our Lord must have more plans for you.
    Last year, Maryann was diagnosed with breast cancer and I had my left hip replaced. So it was a slow year for treatment and healing. We learned more about our healthcare system than we ever wanted. And the cost, ugh!

    I cannot imagine what kind of medical bills you have racked up over the years and now with this episode. How are you going to pay for it? Have you benefited from the ACA? Are you a Medicare for all supporter? Have you been following the CA politics on their state level single payer legislation?

    I’m glad Mark has been able to take up the slack as needed. I wish you both well.

  20. Frances Nicholson

    You got it. I have read about this kind of pacemaker, and am excited that you have received one. Warm thoughts in your direction through all of this.

  21. Catherine Hany

    You are in our thoughts and prayers. Darryl had a similar devise put in a few years ago ago and he’s doing well. It’s amazing what strides medical science comes up with.

    Looking forward to hearing how it goes.

    Much love from your friends in Pasadena!


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