I really truly thought I would be in and out - a quick ekg, a quick pacemaker check, a quick chat with the doctor and I would be done. I scheduled the appointment at 8:00 a.m. thinking I would make it to work just in time for my 9:00 shift. Boy was I wrong!
I got up to the pediatric floor at about 7:50 a.m. Yes, the pediatric floor because the doctors who come from Mayo specialize in pediatric cardiology so they are mainly there to see the kids. But since more and more kids have been surviving heart defects and growing into adults, some of these pediatric cardiologists specialize in adults with congenital heart conditions. Anyway, so there I was on the same floor with all the kids - the same floor I take Faith to when we see her pediatrician - and I hear my name being called.
|pic of a pacemaker|
I patiently answer all of his questions, confirming several times that I have not had any major issues or hospitalizations since having Faith. I then hop obediently up onto the exam table where he starts checking my pulse - not just in my wrist, but my feet and my inner thigh. He tries a few times to get a pulse in my left wrist which, by the way, is nonexistent. He finally gives up and gets out his stethoscope and I began obediently breathing in and out as he listens to my heart.
Finally, I go in to the next room for them to check my pacemaker. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed I didn't get to sit in the big, soft, cushy chair like I usually did. They hook me up with electrodes then place the magnet on my chest over my pacemaker and turn on the computer. It was only moments later that the report came back - my pacemaker was pacing 100% and had two years of battery life left.
I was disappointed to hear this because I had just gotten my last battery in November 2011 and it was already on its way to expiring which meant I would have to get a new one sooner rather than later. I was also bummed to hear I was pacing 100% of the time because to me that meant my heart depended on my pacemaker all day every day which negated the hope that God was healing my heart.
My doctor explained they needed to know what was going to happen to me if my single atrial lead stopped functioning or my battery died. In other words, they needed to stop my pacemaker from pacing. This is when they explained the real reason for soft, cushy chairs - in case someone passed out when they slowed down or stopped someone's pacemaker. But I didn't have the nice chair to sit in, just a normal exam table with a pillow behind my head.
I could tell when they began to slow down the pacemaker - I could feel my heart beating very slowly. I could really feel it when they turned the pacemaker completely off. And guess what - I didn't pass out! My doctor explained to me this meant my heart was not pacemaker dependent.
"But what about my pacemaker pacing 100% of the time", I asked him.
He said because my atrial lead was not placed as well as they would have liked (it took three hours for them to get my pacemaker implanted as opposed to the one hour it normally takes) it is safer for my pacemaker to be running 100% of the time instead of relying on my single atrial lead to tell my pacemaker to pick up my heart rate. (This is why my battery life is much shorter than other people who have pacemakers).
Still, I wasn't done with my appointment. I had to go back upstairs to get hooked up to a 24-hour holter monitor which meant I was going to have to wear it to work. I was not prepared for this at all and I was kicking myself for not having grabbed my zip-up sweatshirt to hide my clumpy-looking chest. After getting hooked up, I was finally out the door and didn't get to work until 10:15
|This is what a holter monitor looks like. Thank goodness they are much more compact than they used to be and I was able tuck it into my bra for safe-keeping. No one at work seemed to notice I was even wearing it.|
I am currently working on a book called, Having Faith, that discusses being born with a congenital heart defect then going on to having a baby with special needs of her own. Feel free to check out my website at www.carijean.com and also my blog, Having Faith.