Guest Blogger: Happy New Pacemaker February 5, 2013Posted by Heart Rhythm Society in Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
Tags: ICDs, Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator, Pacemakers
Editor’s Note: Guest blogger Heidi Dohse is an active woman who was diagnosed with irregular Junctional Tachycardia at a young age. She is passionate about life, cycling and raising awareness about heart rhythm disorders. If you’re a patient interested in sharing your story, please send an email to email@example.com (Subject line: Patient Stories).
January is an interesting month. It is a time for reflection as we kick off a new year and are filled with the ambition to accomplish great things. January is also my birth month… and January is the middle of Winter. For me, being a cyclist, that is a double whammy. I am reminded that I am another year older and it is too darn cold / rainy / snowy to go outside and prove that age does not matter on a bike!
This past January I had another life milestone to think about. It has been 10 years since I had my batteries changed… yep… batteries. I have been 100% pacemaker dependent for almost 30 years and my current pacing generator is in its last stage and needs to be replaced. Most people think about their major accomplishments and life events in years and decades. I think about the amazing things I have done and experienced in life as they relate to different pacemaker implementations.
During the early years I was a windsurfer and skier. The heart beats generated by my first pacemaker were kind of clunky and I could feel the pacing wire shocking my heart. As time went by, and I had pacemakers replaced with new technology, I was happy to get smoother more responsive heartbeats that were better for mountain biking and adventure racing. Eventually I had to have the wires (leads) in my heart replaced as the new leads would be compatible with the next generation of pacemakers…. and these would have more features and improvements!
My current pacemaker and I have been through a lot together. Most of the adventures have been incredible and positive, but I would not appreciate the good if there had not been some bad times too. It was three years ago that I was on a plane to San Francisco for open heart surgery. That was a procedure that was a tad more complex and frightening than changing my batteries. The reason for the surgery was to repair blockages caused by scar tissue from the years of pacemakers and the leads in my heart. Although it was touch and go at times, I consider that event just a rough patch in an otherwise epic decade of fun and adventure.
As for the really good things – I met and married my husband and we adopted two more four legged fur kids. I started cycling more seriously and have accomplished a couple of personal goals that include riding my first 100 mile charity event to completing the 206 mile LOTOJA Classic. Now I have found a great cycling coach, Bill Kemmerer at GoRdye, and I earned a spot on the Carmichael Training Bucket List team to ride the Amgen Tour of California (ATOC) 750 mile stage race!
What are my next ” Happy New Pacemaker” resolutions going to be? I am both frightened of going in for the procedure and excited about having new the technology. I hope that this next pacemaker will allow me to ride harder, faster, and stronger. Perhaps this one will even give me some super powers! I can’t wait to come up with my cycling event schedule for 2013 to find out what it can do. My goal is to cross as many finish lines as I can in order to inspire other heart patients to get out and live an active healthy lifestyle.
Most of all I am going to enjoy every single day and choose to live an amazing life… running on batteries!