That was an opening line for me and a bunch of others when we were kids to indicate we had a new toy. Today, this same line is used by millions of us Boomers in Starbucks and bars everywhere, only instead of a toy, we are referring to a new hip or knee, a new kind of medication or, in my case, a new pacemaker/defibrillator. I have a Medtronic device, implanted by my cardiologist on the day after the recent Super Bowl. The timing was perfect given my Broncos’ staggering defeat during a game that could have produced heart failure in me, but that’s another story.
My last blog post was about going into the hospital for bronchitis and pneumonia. The hospital decided it was because of my heart valve. So they gave me a stress test and used the wrong medication, ultimately producing damage to the lower part of my heart.
The good news is it was the lower part instead of the upper. The fix is a pacemaker/defibrillator. On February 3rd, I got the works, installed during a 2.5 hour operation that went smoothly to a point. I was awake during the whole operation, conversing with the doctor and staff. I was aware of all that was happening from the start of the incision on my left upper chest to the concern about the defibrillator wire that wouldn’t go where we needed it to go. Toward the end of the procedure, I had an odd feeling, but only for a second. I’m not quite sure how to explain it, but at one point, I felt a “zinging” feeling go through my shoulders and down to my fingertips.
Afterwards, when I was back in my room, the doc came in and explained what happened. Seems one of the wires for the defib was unable to make a horseshoe turn in the vein he needed to use for the hookup to my heart; so for now, one of the three outputs is capped off. In 12 to 18 months, I’ll get my “valve job” and at that time they will install the final wire. Meanwhile, part of my medication will be increased to assist my achy breaky heart. The doc also explained that the zinging feeling was when he stopped my heart to set the other wires and then jumped it like an old car.
I must say I was not a happy camper going in for this procedure. I was nervous. Being awake through the whole ordeal was actually kinda fun. The only pain I have now is where the pacemaker is in the upper chest, just under the skin. The pain is no big deal, just lets me know I’ve had some work done. I am assured it will go away as I get better.
I’m 63, young for needing a pacemaker. That’s ok, though. I’m the first man in my family to even make it to 60! When I’m about 70, they will change out the batteries in my pacemaker and then do the same thing at 80. If you need this procedure and are nervous about it, don’t be. It will add years to your life and give you more time to enjoy pissing off young people. And you’ll also be able to say, “Bet I’ve got something you don’t have!”