I Have A Screw Loose - Breaking Up the Covid Tedium

So I broke up the  Covid Tedium April 29 by getting a heart pacemaker installed.  

Biggest social gathering I have gone to in 6 weeks.  A lot of fun. I was the center of attention.

Covid-19 is stressful and dangerous and best avoided by staying away from people. My wife has serious health problems so I wanted to put off the heart work until after it was all over but it got too bad. I was able to walk 3 to 5 miles and run a little but was panting every time I stood up and feeling faint.

I went to the Doctor's office with my mask which frightened one of the nurses. Guess she thought I had Covid-19 and she quickly put on her mask.

My Doctor is great and did an EKG and showed me where my heart beat was screwed up and sent me to the cardiologist. The cardiologis put a 72 hour monitor on me.  I was told to track what I was doing and they would compare my monitor info to my log.

I was walking 4 to 5 miles a day and would and run 300 feet several times each morning. Kind of a stress test that they would be able to see on the gadget. I logged the time when I walked and ran so that the cardiologist could compare my heart action to my level of activity.

At 9 am on the second day of the three day test I was drinking some water. My throat seemed to seize and I could not breath for a short period. It hurt like hell and I was trying to decide whether to walk it off or lay down. Then I remembered it was a good idea to cough if you have a heart problem, so I did, and that seemed to fix it.

My wife diagnosed it as a panic attack, which irritated me. Marines Do Not Have Panic Attacks!  It is against the rules.

It took another four days from when I dropped off the monitor to hear about the data. The cardiologist informed me that my heart had stopped for 3.8 seconds at 9 am. I was glad to find out it was the real deal and not just a Panic Attack! from nerves.

The cardiologist said go get a pacemaker installed ASAP. I wore my mask in the hospital. Quite a few of the nurses and patients were not wearing masks in the lobby.  Probably fine it they were staying 6 feet away.

After all the tests I was waiting for surgery with nothing to do or read.  The only thing to watch was the monitor which was behind me and which I could read upside down. I figured out it was the pulse rate and oxygen level with several sign waves, so I spent an enjoyable time watching the monitor and sign waves.  Very relaxing.  Mesmerizing.

My pulse was in the 40's.  An alarm would sound when it went to 35 which did not seem to alarm anyone except me.  At one point it dropped to 30 for a bit.

I wondered how long I could watch it if it dropped to zero.  I would guess 30 or so seconds. I tried to decide whether I would want to watch that or just be surprised? Decided I wanted to watch it - it was hard not to look each time the alarm went off. But that of course did not happen - never went below 30 and did not stop, which was good.

I could see the sign waves.  Sometimes they were nice and smooth and other times jumping around somewhat in sync with the pulse numbers.

Surgery was not bad. It was the biggest and closest social event I have participated in for the past 6 weeks.  And I was the center of attention. Although it did irk me when they tied me up and put an air bag over my head during my party.

In the recovery room I participated in a Zoom call with a bunch of Marine friends. I was the only patient in an area for 12 beds. A fun time and My Marine pals thought the bandages on my chest and my 6 week old Covid beard were noteworthy. I did fail the grooming inspection.

I lost my mask during surgery and spent time in the recovery room and left the hospital without it.  

And now of course we sweat getting Covid from the hospital. I discussed with my wife the advisability of the two of us staying in different parts of the home but she said no.

On the plus side my heart seems to be working better.

The hospital gave me a box as I left with no verbal instructions of what do with it. It is a handy little gadget that takes data from the pacemaker and sends it somewhere.  I figured out how to make it work - my buddy has the same thing but they sent someone over to set his up.  

They told me some verbal instructions in recovery. I think I remember them. It was better in the pre Covid-19 when you could have your spouse with you to help remember the instructions. Can't do that anymore.

I do remember when I was a little kid, the Doctor told me to let him know if my heart stopped.  Even then I knew it was a joke. So far so good, nothing to report.

Update. I was doing fine, then started to get heart pain. Back to the hospital May 1. Lots of tests, ok, back home May 2, 2020, no heart attack, and most of the pain is gone. Don't know why.

I do hate going to the hospital because of possible exposure to Covid-19. Lots of people in close proxmity. My roomate was a Chef from a nursing home that has had 6 deaths. He says he was tested twice and did not have it. Hope he is right. I did stay away from him.

I can sometimes feel my pulse in my chest which is interesting. Jolts me. A handy way to check it. And I bought a Fitbit Versa 2 which tracks my pulse.  A nice steady 60 at rest.

The cardiologist says I should not be able to feel the pulse. He thought it happens because my pulse was so slow before that I feel it now.

We did several more tests. Very interesting how they take the data from the Pacemaker, send it to corporate headquarters, and then send it to the cardiologist's office.

They dropped my resting pulse to 50 to limit the jolts.

One good deal after another. Beth is very stressed.

This too shall pass.

May 7-9, 2020  I have a Screw Loose 
this is not a surprise to my friends

So after a few more tests the cardiologist figured out that the Pacemaker wire had gone through my heart wall which was causing the problems including pain when it fired. An expert came from the Pacemaker company for the surgery and checks afterwards - she told me that this problem happens less than once a year for all their pacemakers. I had won the lottery!

Back to the hospital. This time I was tested twice for Covid-19. I did not have it.

More involved surgery to fix it. They were all set to go in with a surgical team if it leaked badly. But it did not. They just took out the old wire and screw and replaced them. Another cardiologist sent a gadget down my esophogus to help replace and place the wire. 

Resting pulse is back up to 60 with no pain.

Feeling much better now. Hope it is fixed for good.

Home May 9, 2020

Five years ago at 95 years of age my father's heart rate dropped dramatically and he was sent to the hospital.  They installed a temporary pacemaker and called me at 3:00 am for direction to install the permanent pacemaker.  I envisioned saying no with temporary wires and a battery sticking out of Dad so I authorized it. Dad lived two more years. 

My grandmother was told she needed a pacemaker at 90. She thought about it for a minute and noted that this would be like kicking a dead horse. She went ahead and had it installed.  At 95 they told her she needed a new battery. "No" she said, "when it goes I go."  She lived three more years.

At any rate, pacemaker stories change the subject from Covid-19 stories, which are unpleasant. Give me a good Pacemaker story anytime.



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