Yesterday, I went to pacemaker clinic, in the hopes that an adjustment to my pacemaker’s programming would help me feel better. Why? Because at my recent heart stress test, we discovered that, when I exercise, my pacemaker is speeding up very slowly and in a very limited way. This is probably one reason I haven’t been feeling so great, these days.
Why is my pacemaker being particularly poky? Because, for six months, I’ve been in atrial fibrillation and the pacemaker can only do so much, to compensate for that.
Yesterday, I had hopes that my wonderful pacemaker team, including Melanie
(appearing in this previous post), Dr. Estes
(seated, and also appearing in that same post), Lori and Bob
(appearing in Day 62: Self Disclosure) could re-program the pacemaker.
Yesterday, Bob tried different pacemaker re-programmings, to help me feel better. We alternated those with exercise excursions around the hospital, including stair climbing and sprinting. After we finished experimenting, Dr. Estes came by to consult, and we all agreed that the new programming might be a real improvement.
The timing for these changes and hoped-for improvements seemed perfect … since I need to attend a local 3-day group-therapy conference, starting tomorrow. And that group-therapy conference — while not involving a lot of physical activity — is always … intense. Plus, I am still recovering from pneumonia.
However, after I left the hospital, at times I felt light-headed and oddly anxious. When I checked my pulse during those times, I discovered rapid heart rates. Those speeded-up rates would have been great if I’d been climbing stairs or walking vigorously, but … I was sitting still.
And those rapid heart beats made me feel quite uncomfortable, physically and mentally. The pacemaker’s timing felt off — like that of a bad stand-up comic.
What should I do now? I wondered. I had many thoughts, which felt new and familiar, at the same time:
- Oh no! We went to all that trouble and I THOUGHT I felt better, but now I feel worse!
- Should I wait and keep observing things, to see if the pacemaker “settles down” and does a better job?
- If I write to Dr. Estes about my concerns and observations, I know he’ll respond quickly … but will he think I’m (a) a bother (b) over-reacting, (c) impatient, (d) misperceiving, (e) nuts, and/or (f) a bad patient?
Those thoughts are very familiar, dating back to when I was a small child, dealing with doctors and pacemakers with LOTS of problems.
Those thoughts, repeating and repeating yesterday evening, were just as uncomfortable and anxiety-provoking as the rapid, mis-timed heart beats.
I sometimes have trouble making decisions — especially about actions where I fear being (1) wrong and/or (2) judged. So yesterday evening, for about an hour, I hemmed and hawed, went back and forth, over possible options and next steps.
I talked to bf Michael about it.
I brooded, silently.
I went over possibilities and consequences, many times.
Finally, I said, “Enough!”
And I wrote this email to Dr. Estes:
Hi Dr. Estes,
I have been feeling kind of light-headed off and on, since I left pacemaker clinic today, so I been taking my pulse just to check out what’s going on.
I am getting really rapid beats (30 beats per 15 seconds) often when I am sitting or standing still, which feels pretty weird. When I am actually exerting myself, my heart rate isn’t speeding up that much.
Is there a chance this will settle down, or is this an indication that the settings just aren’t working so great for me?
Your sensitive and picky customer,
Hey! I AM sensitive and picky, and that’s …
It is highly unlikely that the new settings are causing your symptoms. I suggest we stay the course for another couple of days and see if things settle down. If you really uncomfortable, or for symptoms intensify, please contact us and of course we would be willing to see you immediately.
Ann, if there is one thing I’ve learned … it’s never to doubt you.
.Because I am going to a conference this Friday through Sunday, and the rapid heartbeats are feeling quite uncomfortable, I would like to return to the old programming for the short term. Could I come by tomorrow (Thursday) morning? I am not due at work until the afternoon..Thanks for your understanding and patience..All the best,Ann
Ann…sure thing…see you tomorrow as your schedule allows…ME.
Do you have the correct time?