Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Not that easy...

Today's visit to the pacemaker clinic part of the cardiology center was actually worse than I feared it might be.  The testing was, at least.  It was much more difficult than that in the hospital.  Would that it were Georgie might never need interrogating again.  Sadly, that is not the case.  I have to return in eight weeks.  If my leads are not healed then, I have to return again eight weeks after that.  That was not what I heard in the hospital.  I also had another EKG (more removing clothing and having hands touch me).  Each time I go, I will have to have an EKG first, then remain wired up throughout the interrogation.  SIGH.

I learned that it is the ventricular pacing that I abhor with my entire being and want NEVER to experience again. However, given that Georgie is already pacing my heart 71% of the time, getting the tech to turn it off is not an option. I am very despairing over all this.  My next torture session with the pacemaker team is scheduled for January 28th. Again, I'm hoping for a supernova before then. Today was brutal for me. How do I walk in there next month and do it again???

Just do it, Myrtle, like you did today.
It is not that easy.
To tell me such is not a kindness, nor is it wise.

Georgie ventricle paced me a bit ago, despite my rather desperate entreaty that she cease all such activity. It was, actually, the first time, I believe, she's done so this strongly when my heart rate was not high, a mere 87 BPM. That is part of what I learned today. Georgie is not pacing me down, per se, but she is correcting what is making my heart rate skyrocket so that my heart will calm down on its own. Georgie can actually only force my heart to beat faster (which she apparently is doing all the bloody time, if you take a gander at my strips); she cannot actually slow it down, although her actions result in that. I am still in shock, however, that she's pacing me 71% of the time. I thought it would be, maybe, about 10%. I didn't realize just how dependent I was on the theophylline for life!

The tech changed one tiny setting that she said might make things a teeny bit easier for me, but she gave no guarantees. My pacemaker has this fancy setting where it can sense both the strength of your heart beat and your movement. So, for example, if you are a biker with bradycardia, and you are biking, many pacemakers wouldn't help your heart rate because they wouldn't sense movement in the chest. By sensing that the heart is working harder, this pacemaker can help the biker who needs a higher heart rate to bike.

For me, as an example, if I am distressed and my heart is working harder as a result of the stress hormones flooding my body, Georgie does not need to actually make my heart beat faster. Translate that: Meltdowns do not need a higher heart rate. So, the tech turned off that feature.

She switched that setting on Georgie to sensing movement. This is because—as much I don't mind sitting on 60 BPM where pacing in the atrium is but a tiny flutter I can learn to accept and the ventricle is rarely involved—I actually need a higher heart rate if I am going to be walking about the house, cooking, cleaning, organizing, bathing Amos, or tending fires.

I very much mind the need for ventricle pacing. Very, very, very much mind it.

[Therein ends your lesson on pacemakers.]

I do well with the discreet.  The specific.  And many, many, many repetitions.  Yesterday, when the nurse from the hospital called, I asked when the vaccines might stop hurting.  I was rather discouraged to wake up Saturday in pain and find my arm all swollen and red in that spot.  Each day it has gotten worse.  She told me: Seven Days.  So confident was her answer that it cheered me the tiniest bit.  Today, Day 5, the pain was finally palpably less.  I can believe that Friday will find me better.
In the hospital, after I awoke, I was in a panic because of the pain.  All I could think was that Becky would be gone in two days and I couldn't possibly tend myself in that condition.  I was whimpering about the pain when that nurse got right down close to me and very adamantly told me that in 12 hours I would start to feel better and in 24 hours I would know that I would eventually be okay.  She was right.

Today, I wept my way through explaining that I could not wear a bra (nothing more than that bandeau thingy I bought for the surgery) and I could not sleep on my left side.  I am a left-side-sleeper.  If I roll to my right, this pesky nerve gets irritated, my arm goes numb, and it becomes inexplicably painful, all of which wakes me up.  I have been, also, despairing thinking that I will never be able to sleep well again.

When I turn on my left side, the pacemaker itself is pressed upon.  Very, very, very painful.  Actually, feeling it beneath my skin is both disconcerting and painful.  I am not sure why it is that a bra is painful.  Mine does not hit my incision.  The whole matter is distressing.

The tech explained that almost every female patient comes to the 7-day interrogation braless.  [Well, I thought, that was not in the booklet.]  She explained that even males have trouble sleeping on their left side.  And she was discreet in her language.  Specific.  Very, very, very repetitive.  Give it two more weeks, three at the tops.  Life will be different then.  I will be able to sleep on my side.

I very much want my life to be different.

On the plus side, I have not coughed at night since Friday night.  I am so utterly relieved to be back on asthma medication, even though I was staggered to learn that Medicare is not covering what I need: duel meds to blunt the effects on my heart and blood pressure.  Money wise, I cannot even fathom number crunching for all of this.

Another benefit was the three rounds of IV antibiotics (maybe four because I am hazy for the first few hours).  Last fall, I became ill with The Crud twice, sick for about eight weeks total.  Ever since then, I have had a nose, sinus cavity, and throat full of green and bloody mucus.  Since I didn't have the tell-tale signs of a sinus infection (facial pain), I was eventually diagnosed with nasal allergies (despite a lack of symptoms for those) and put on medication.  Now, after THIRTEEN MONTHS, there is no more green, bloody mucus that I have to deal with day after day after day.  I knew I had a sinus infection and I secretly hoped, rather fervently, the antibiotics I would get for the surgery would help.  They did!

A third benefit is that I have not been short of breath since the surgery, neither have I had any of the palpitations:  thundering, pounding, flip-flopping, and fluttering.  To be ever so much less aware of my heart has been a blessing.  More so, I welcome breathing better.  Huffing and puffing my way from the GREEN chair to the bathroom was rather distressing.

A fourth benefit is that I am no longer on theophylline, with regard to no longer being on a medication that conflicted with so many others, including two that I take, and others that I was prescribed without checking for conflicts. And it appears the cardiologist was right in thinking the theophylline was contributing to the palpitations.  

I cannot say, yet, if the beta blocker is a blessing.  And, as I have written in not quite so many words, I am two minds about the pacemaker.  Clearly, without theophylline, I need the pacemaker.  But is it a plus? Right now ... I just cannot see the positives.  Nor can I imagine living with the ventricle pacing.

Today, when it started and got worse and worse and worse, I tried to scramble out of the chair.  I wanted to flee the room and the connection to the computer/machine controlling my heart.  I am not strong enough to face that again.  I am not strong enough to face it at home.  I flee to the closet.  I curl in a ball in the corner.  I cry out for Amos to come climb in my lap.

I have been told that it is normal ... expected... that I would slide backwards, that I would find myself in pieces again, somehow severed from the hope that I had about getting better with regard to my past.  I do not feel normal.  I feel wretched.  And, now, having made the 7-day appointment, all I want is to have no one near me, no one touching me, and no one taking me to the bathroom, until my guests arrive in three weeks.  No one to watch me writhe in pain or battle nausea.  No one to witness my mental collapse.  No one to foment my ridiculous need to appear less ill and more together than I actually am.


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