Day 521: Timing

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

img_3247(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.

I hoped that the new programming would better support my beloved walks (see hundreds of my other posts, including this, this, and this) and other physical exertions.

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,

Note that I labelled myself there, in my signature. And while labeling (or name-calling) can be an unhelpful cognitive distortion …   I didn’t say I was TOO sensitive or picky.

Hey! I AM sensitive and picky, and that’s …

IMG_5333(see this post for the most recent appearance of AOK!)


As I expected, Dr. Estes responded back, in minutes. His timing is amazing.  Here’s what he wrote:



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.


When I received that email, my first thought was this: Was Dr. Estes’s reaction “bad” timing? Was he discounting my experience?
Then, I remembered something else.
Dr. Estes, last year, said one of the most amazing things any human being has ever said to me:
Ann, if there is one thing I’ve learned … it’s never to doubt you.
When Dr. Estes said that to me,  it was in the middle of a lot of health uncertainties and anxieties. As usual, his timing was impeccable.
Since he voiced that, last year, it has echoed in my head, a beautiful antidote to my self-doubts and  fears about how others will perceive me.
I heard that echo again, as I looked at his email yesterday. And I knew it was the correct time for my response:
Hi Mark,


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,
And, as usual, Dr. Mark Estes responded back to me with lightening-quick timing, even though it was night-time, by then:


Ann…sure thing…see you tomorrow as your schedule allows…ME
My medical team IS a sure thing, these days … even if our timing isn’t always perfect.
Originally, my title for today’s post was
Do you have the correct time?
… and I planned to show more of my extensive collection of watches (discussed before, here and here).
But, I want to finish my post, in good time, so I can return to my pacemaker team today.
However, I still think the timing is right, now, to show you some of my favorite watches, including:.
which previously appeared in this post (and this one, too),
appearing previously in this post,  and ….
Appearing on the right is the watch I wore yesterday, facilitating a therapy group at work in the morning at work and visiting pacemaker clinic in the afternoon. On the left?  That’s Clocky,  an unusual and intentionally irritating alarm clock I bought for my son and/or Michael, who both have trouble waking up, some times. If you look at Clocky’s face, you’ll see its timing is off, because we haven’t tried to use it yet.
What watch should I wear today, as I return to pacemaker clinic in the morning and work in the afternoon?
I think the timing is right for the watch on the left:
That wonderful red watch was a gift, from Michael.
Thanks to my pacemaker team, to Michael, to everybody who has ever listened to me (no matter how imperfectly), to stand-up comics with good and bad timing, to monkeybuzz99 (who posted the video of Clocky doing its thing on YouTube , and to you — especially! — for taking the time to read this post, today.
No time for footnotes, today. However, I had time for links … lots of links! How was my timing there?
Categories: inspiration, personal growth | 36 Comments

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36 thoughts on “Day 521: Timing

  1. I would pay a premium for a doctor who responds to my emails within minutes! I didn’t know that kind of care existed anymore.
    Hope you feel better and have a good time at the conference. Best to you! T

    • Thanks so much for this comment, TDD. I am very lucky — out there in the medical-o-sphere with my doctors and here in the blog-o-sphere, with readers like you.

  2. I loved your collection of watches. Thank you for sharing. Your team of health care professionals are “patient centered” and they deserve special recognition for providing excellent service delivery to their patients. You are blessed to have them as a part of your health care team.

    • I am blessed, several times .. having the doctors I do and because of lovely comments like this one, from you.

  3. I hope they find the proper timing for your pacemaker upon your return from the conference, Ann. You have found a topic that leaves me punless and joke-free! I was going to say something about trying to maintain a steady pace during the conference this weekend, but wondered if that might be in poor taste considering the seriousness of this topic … Well, we are good friends by now.

    Ann, I, as always, want the very best for you, and I think you have a fantastic team ready to respond to your reactions to their adjustments immediately. You are fortunate. Yay, team. Enjoy the weekend conference the best you can.

    • Oh, Mark, I NEVER want to leave you punless and joke-free! That would be like living in a mirthless world of only bad stand-up comedians. So please, no matter what is going on with me, puns and jokes are always welcome here.

      But thank you, from the bottom of my heart (and pacemaker) for the kind-heartedness of this comment. Yay, Mark!

  4. Good luck controlling that pacemaker, Ann – I hope you’re able to enjoy your walks again very soon.

    • I like the idea of my being in control of the pacemaker, Annabelle. Thank you for that gift, and for your kind and hopeful wishes for me. After my appointment today, I did get a walk, which I definitely enjoyed.

  5. I hope your good doctors will fix your pacemaker a.s.a.p. so you can relax and feel good again Ann 🙂

    • My pacemaker did get some improving adjustments this morning, Irene, I’m glad to report. Thanks also to you, for helping me feel better with your hopeful and thoughtful comment.

  6. Alastair Savage

    I believe that doctors have a term like ‘expert patients’ for people with chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes (I have the former). It’s certainly true that we have a much better understanding of our symptoms than most ordinary patients. That does help us trust ourselves in these situations because we know when something is wrong. It sounds like you made all the right decisions here but it must have been a pretty worrying time.

    • I’ve never heard that term “expert patient.” I’m glad to know about it, thanks to you, Alistair. I am grateful for this understanding and thoughtful comment, which helped me a great deal today.

  7. Ann , wish you good luck for your conference. I hope and pray that your doctor and team will be able to resolve this issue.

    • Thank you for these wonderfully kind wishes, hopes, and prayers, mk. I think today’s pacemaker appointment was a step in the right direction — I definitely feel better today than I did yesterday!

  8. So happy you are taking good care of all your tick rocks Ann 🙂

    • I’m so happy you commented, Val. I wonder if you meant “tick tocks”? “Tick rocks” is even better, for such a rocking comment. I wish you could have seen my smile, when I read this.

  9. Kudos to you for standing up for your health care concerns. Too often something is wrong but people are afraid to speak up. One thing I learned early on in my brothers heart issues was that it was his body and he was the judge, and if something felt “off”, then we don’t even question it. There were times he wasn’t sure, and so we tried the at home solutions and gave him the time he needed to determine if it felt like he would get over it – and if not, then we didn’t even hesitate. Off we went. I can’t tell you how many times I went out of the house with no make up and hair not made because I hadn’t planned on leaving the house that day, but he called, so I dropped everything to go pick him up!
    Enjoy your conference!

    • I always appreciate your comments, Kate; I especially cherish the ones about your brother. He was so lucky to have you as a sister; I am so lucky to have you as a reader. I will do my best to enjoy my conference!

  10. Gene Phillips

    Your doctors sound amazing, not only in their level of competence, but also in their degree of caring and willingness to make time for you. My wife, Sayoko, has an artificial heart valve and heart rhythm issues (a-fib is a familiar topic). Her heart has occasionally needed reprogramming of a sort, adjustments in her medications, and once through cardio-version. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you, Gene, for sharing yourself as well as Sayoko’s experience. And I am grateful for your degree of caring and willingness to make time for me, too!

  11. Gene Phillips

    And oh yes…great watches!

    • I was hoping you would see this post, Gene, since you had expressed a wish to see more watches, many moons ago.

  12. I hope you get your timing sorted and feel better soon. Seems like you have a great doctor. Looks like there is somebody out there with more watches than me!

    • I do feel better, since I re-visited pacemaker clinic yesterday. Thanks for noticing the impressiveness of my doctor and my watch collection (both only partially documented here). It’s always great to see you!

  13. Ann, I hope you’re going to feel much better pretty soon!
    Love, Aunty Uta

  14. That is scary, I don’t like hearing that you’re having issues with your pacemaker! I hope they get it adjusted to the right settings. I love that your doctor responds to your emails so promptly– that’s incredible customer service. And I admire that you stood up for yourself and got things changed back. I hope that you’re feeling well for your upcoming conference!

    • Aussa! Thank you for being scared, for hoping, for loving, and for admiring. I AM feeling better, since Bob re-programmed my pacemaker this morning. It’s always more than awesome to see you.

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