Is There a New Normal After a Pacemaker?

I got a pacemaker.  After leaving the hospital, my question was: How long before I feel normal again?  I discovered the answer to that question is not the same for everyone and – at least for me – it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. 

When my pacemaker was implanted last month, I thought to myself, Now all will be well and I will be on the way to being my old self with maybe a couple of new little restrictions.  I was wrong!

Nobody told me to expect the unexpected.  If you’re getting a pacemaker and defibrillator combo, that’s what you must do, and you may not hear it from your doctors.  When I left the hospital with the pacemaker working and the defibrillator partly operational (the rest “on hold” till I have open-chest surgery in the not-too-distant future), I was given a bunch of new drug prescriptions. I went from three pills a day to a “cocktail” of 10.  Within a few Meds coctaildays, not only was I not feeling better, I had lapsed into a major funk.  I didn’t want to write a blog post, go to work or basically, do anything at all.  I love writing these posts, but the funk just kept getting worse. 

It didn’t take long for me to figure out the major complication was the interaction of all my medications.  Of course this doesn’t mean it will happen to you, but I want you to know that it can indeed happen because it happened to me. 

A week ago, after a weekend of blood pressure readings at 66 over 59 or close to that, I decided to go to the lab for blood work.  My trip to the lab was predicated by researching all my medications Researchingin the cocktail.  Four of them were not advised to be taken together. Also, the size of the dosages for some of these med’s was way too much.  My advocate – a.k.a. my “bulldog” – in in this research effort was my wife.  She contacted the heart clinic and they ordered me in for the blood test.  Within an hour of getting the blood drawn, the results were sent to the doctor and I was told to get to the ER immediately because my kidneys were failing.  I could have told them that, but nobody asked!

For the next three days, I was poked, prodded and flooded with fluids – whatever it took to get to the root of the problem. We had explained our research about the drug interactions, but no one at the hospital would comment on that until the second day when I was informed, “There may have been some problems with the interaction of some of your medications.”  DUH!

Look I don’t blame my doctors for all this.  Most people may do well with the cocktail I was given; but not this crusty old guy – maybe because I don’t drink cocktails, either!  When all was said and done, I’m now down to four pills and lower dosages on a couple of them.  I feel a hell of a lot better this week. 

My frequent blog posts will return. I close with this:  If you are having some major problem in a physical or emotional way and you are taking medications, DO YOUR OWN HOMEWORK.  HAVE AN ADVOCATE. PUSH THE ISSUE to get the answers YOU need from your doctors. Physicians are a hard-working, well-intentioned group and they are also human. They need their patients to tell them what’s going on.

Finally, to everyone on my crew on the CarTel floor at Mission Hospital who watched over me last week, both nurses and doctors, YOU ARE ANGELS!  My “bulldog” and I appreciate you all so very much.  Special thanks to Nurse Peggy Kirkwood.  There seems to be no question she cannot answer in some positive way, and heaven knows, I always have a lot of questions!

Gary Ingram

Gary Ingram

I grew up in Golden, CO in the 50’s, the child of a middle class housewife and a lifelong employee of the U.S. Post Office. My professional career spanned 25 years with the U.S. Government and I retired early. Today I am an Aging-in-Place Specialist (which does not mean I just sit in a recliner and watch football), a devoted “Papa” to my grandchildren and partner to my lovely wife. I’m a crusty old fart who appreciates a good cigar, an old car, an occasional game of golf, Blue Collar Radio, NASCAR and my Denver Broncos. At, I hold the title, “Chief of Questions.” Let’s see what you think about my questions and answers. Chime in!

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  1. Great post Gary! Good job Shannon and Gary asking all the good questions.

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