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Monday, May 4, 2020

Breaking Up the Covid Tedium

So I broke up the Covid Tedium April 29 by getting a heart pacemaker installed.

Biggest social gathering I have gone to in 6 weeks. A lot of fun. I was the center of attention.

Of course Covid-19 is stressful and my wife has very serious health problems so I wanted to put off the heart work until after it was all over, but it got too bad. I was able to walk 3 to 5 miles and run a little, but was panting every time I stood up and feeling faint.

I went to the Doctor's office with my mask which frightened one of the nurses. Guess she thought I had Covid and she quickly put on her mask.

The Doc, a great Doctor, did an EKG and showed me where my heart beat was screwed up and sent me to the cardiologist. They all had masks on. He put a 72 hour monitor on me and when the results were in sent me to the hospital for the pacemaker. My heart was stopping and starting - I had walked 4.7 miles and run 300 feet that morning - he said no more walking alone.

My heart stopped for 3.8 seconds at one point during the test, which I knew - it hurt like hell and I was trying to decide whether to walk it off or lay down. Then I remembered it was a good idea to cough if you have a heart problem, so I did, and that seemed to fix it.

My wife diagnosed it as a panic attack, which irritated me. Marines Do Not Have Panic Attacks!  I was gad to find out it was the real deal and not just nerves.

I wore my mask in the hospital. Quite a few of the nurses and patients were not wearing masks in the lobby. Probably fine it they were staying 6 feet away.

After all the tests I was waiting for surgery with nothing to do or read. The only thing to watch was the monitor which was behind me and which I could read upside down. I figured out it was the pulse rate and oxygen level, with several sign waves, so I spent an enjoyable time watching the monitor. My pulse was in the 40's. An alarm would sound when it went to 35, which did not seem to worry anyone except me. At one point it dropped to 30 for a bit.

I wondered how long I could watch it if it dropped to zero. I would guess 30 or so seconds. I tried to decide whether I would want to watch that or just be surprised? Decided I wanted to watch it - it was hard not to look each time the alarm went off. But that of course did not happen - never went below 30 and did not stop, which was good.

Surgery was not bad. It was the biggest and closest social event I have participated in for the past 6 weeks. And I was the center of attention. Although it did irk me when they tied me up and put an air bag over my head during my party.

In the recovery room I participated in a Zoom call with a bunch of Marine friends. I was the only patient in an area for 12 beds. A fun time and they thought the bandages on my chest and my 6 week old Covid beard were noteworthy. I did fail the grooming inspection.

I lost my mask during surgery and spent time in the recovery room and left the hospital without it.

And now of course we sweat getting Covid from the hospital. I discussed with my wife the advisability of the two of us staying in different parts of the home but she said no.

On the plus side my heart seems to be working better.

Because of the last minute part of all this instructions were a bit haphazard. They gave me a box with no instructions of what do with it. It is a handy little gadget that takes data from the pacemaker and sends it somewhere. I figured out how to make it work - my buddy has the same thing but they sent someone over to set his up.

They told me some verbal instructions in recovery. I think I remember them.

I do remember when I was a little kid, the Doctor told me to let him know if my heart stopped. Even then I knew it was a joke. So far so good, nothing to report.

Update. I was doing fine, then started to get heart pain. Back to the hospital May 1. Lots of tests, ok, back home May 2, 2020, no heart attack, and most of the pain is gone.

I do hate going to the hospital because of possible exposure to Covid-19. Lots of people in close proxmity. My roomate was a Chef from a nursing home that has had 6 deaths. He says he was tested twice and did not have it. Hope he is right. I did stay away from him.

I can sometimes feel my pulse in my chest which is interesting. A handy way to check it. And I bought a Fitbit Versa 2 which tracks my pulse. A nice steady 60 at rest.

One good deal after another. Beth is very stressed.

This too shall pass.


Aha!  I have a screw loose!
Of course, many of you knew that already.

May7-9, 2019

A couple of more tests. Doc said you can't feel the pacemaker. Doc, I said, I feel it.  After they did some more thests and they found that the wire had indeed escaped.

Back to the hospital, this time

Five years ago at 95 years of age my father's heart rate dropped dramatically and he was rushed to the hospital. They installed a temporary pacemaker and called me at 3:00 am for direction to install the permanent pacemaker. I envisioned saying no with temporary wires and a battery sticking out of him so I authorized it. Dad lived two more years.

My grandmother was told she needed a pacemaker at 90. She thought about it for a minute and noted that this would be like kicking a dead horse. She went ahead and had it installed. At 95 they told her she needed a new battery. "No" she said, "when it goes I go." She lived three more years.

At any rate, pacemaker stories change the subject from Covid-19 stories, which are unpleasant. Give me a good Pacemaker story anytime.

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  New York Times Jan 6, 2022 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/covid-cases-deaths-tracker.html