Got a pacemaker (Part 1)

(Revised/Updated on 13 August 2020)

Got a pacemaker

As you maybe already know from a previous post, I was admitted to the hospital in 2012 because of bacteria in my blood.
This bacteria had attacked my artificial heart valve and was growing on it.

After one week in the hospital with a 24h antibiotic drip, a small part of the bacteria growth had get lose and caused the brain hemorrhage.
Twice.

After I had recovered from this, they decided that it was advisable to operate and replace the damaged heart valve with a new one.
All the time I stayed in the hospital.

It was better that I was under observation, then go home.
You never know what could happen next.
Maybe even a third brain hemorrhage?
So on Feb. 18, I had my second open-heart operation.
8 Years after the first operation.

A normal procedure would take 4 hours.
But in my case, it took them 8 to 9 hours.
They had to remove the old valve, clean the whole area around it because everything was attacked by the bacteria.
And then place a new valve and a new part of the aorta.
Later we also heard that the surgeon had to take a break because it took so long.

In the meantime, my wife was staying in the hospital, waiting for news.
Also not knowing why things took so long.
But after the 8-9 hours, she finally got the news that the whole procedure was successful.

For two days, I stayed in the ICU.
Just to make sure everything was and is ok.
I remembered that every time I woke up, I had asked the nurse what day it was.
The “funny” thing was, that every time I asked, it was still the same day.
But because every time you will fall asleep, you have no idea for how long you were out.
Later we heard that the nurse also found it funny that I kept on asking the same thing.

After the ICU, I was brought to a normal room.
For observation and recovery.
But I noticed that I had to carry a small box with me, hanging around my neck.
And wires that went inside my body.
They told me, that this was for security/safety.
In case there is a problem with my heart, the “machine/box” knows it and would take over.

Only after a few days, they told me what the main reason was for this box.
During the operation, there is a small risk that they can or will damage a small part of the heart.
This part they called it the sinus knot.
It is something like a small nerve that controls when the heart should give a heartbeat.
Because it was damaged, my heart had his rhythm of max 40-50 beats per minute.
For a normal/healthy heart, this should be around 60 or higher (when exercising).

This meant, that if I had to walk to the toilet, only 20 meters, I was so tired.
It looked like I had just run to the toilet.

My heart had to work harder to get the right amount of blood and oxygen, through my body.
Or should I say, that my body had to work harder to get the needed amount of blood and oxygen?
Because my heart could not beat quicker than 40-50 beats per minute.

Sometimes in the evening they would come and check if I was ok.
Because my heartbeat was so low, they were worried.

They also explained, that sometimes the heart would pick up his normal rhythm again.
This would normally be within 7 to 10 days.
But after 10 days, no recovery.
The only solution would be, to place a pacemaker.

When you hear this, you get into a small shock.
My first thoughts were, but I am too young for a pacemaker.
A pacemaker is for old people for when their heart cannot keep up.
Not in my case.
In my case, it was to take over the heartbeat.
And bring it to a normal level.
So my body would get the right amount of blood pumped around when needed.

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