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.