This past Tuesday, I had surgery to implant my ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator). I was the second case that day, so I did not need to be at Michigan’s cardiovascular center (CVC) until noon, which meant one more night that I could spend in my own bed!
As the prep began, as always, it was a struggle to get an IV started. I had many flashbacks to the numerous times I had spent in that room already, with the same issue. Though this time it was with a different team, so I met new nurses, which was fun (yes, it kind of is fun). After a few attempts at the IV, they got it and I was slowly sedated. They all ensured I knew what the surgery entailed and honestly, I just wanted to go into it without many expectations.
Well, not going into it with any expectations, doesn’t negate the fact that it’s still surgery. I fully admit, I was thinking this one was going to be a breeze. I’m not sure what I was thinking, especially since they explained what the recovery was going to look like, but maybe I thought that since I made it through a few open heart surgeries, that I’d get through this one easily. It didn’t quite go that way.
The surgery went incredibly well and my doctor/surgeon was able to do what he set out to do. I must say the EP (electrophysiology) team at the U of M is incredible! Even though I was cracking jokes as I was coming to, the more I became with it, the more my body was telling me that it was hurting. The first thing I remember is shaking uncontrollably due to pain, which made me think “here we go again!” Thankfully after getting some pain meds in me, the intense pain quickly subsided. After an x-ray, it showed that where the lead for the ICD had to go in, it was right into my scar tissue from my previous surgeries. But thanks to pain medication, it’s been bearable.
I spent the next 24 hours being monitored and finding ways to manage my pain. I think too, because of the wires from my other surgeries, the rubbing of the new metal in me didn’t feel great. But the nurses and doctors were amazing at assuring I went home comfortable.
So what does recovery look like? I have two new scars and bulge in my back where the device sits, that tells my story and I’m just humbled that God would choose to continue to prove Himself faithful time and time again, in my life! It is a 4-6 week recovery, where I am limited on how much I can lift for 4+ weeks and can’t lift my arm above a 90 degree angle for 6 weeks, due to the device in my side/back. Trust me though, I wouldn’t want to lift that arm – even if I wanted to. I couldn’t. So I can’t lift Mazy for awhile again, which is hard, but thankfully she understands and is so kind! I also sleep upright as my body adjusts to the new device in it. I will go back next week for a follow up, and then the next week again, for a device and wound check. They actually tested the ICD while I was under and it worked, which is always good news!
In some ways, I feel this recovery is similar to my other surgeries, minus the intense pain. I took some pics, so hopefully this gives you an idea into my surgery:
After surgery at night, after just getting back from a walk.
When I knew I would be staying overnight, I right away thought of the potato-encrusted cod that I could order! This seriously is THE BEST mass-produced fish I’ve ever had. I enjoyed every bite of it!
When I got home, one of the first things I did was pack up my LifeVest! It was a device that I was supposed to have for only 1-3 months; it ended up being 9. It was a long haul, even though I didn’t wear it 24/7, but a device that I was PLEASED to send back, though thankful I had it. It went off once, which landed me in the hospital for a few days, so indeed, it saved my life!
This is when I feel like I am back to square one. I can’t lift my arm, so I can’t brush, wash, or really do my hair. Of course that mobility will eventually increase and the pain decrease, but until then, I have humbly accepted help from friends and family to help me. And my beautiful daughter to brush my hair! Mazy has understood what has happened to mommy this time around. She seems to just get it and unfortunately, this is becoming a norm for her!
We’ve been so blessed by the meals and help we have received once again! I did not expect the recovery to be as painful and tiring as it has been, but we’ve been showered with so much love! Thank you too, for praying us through this surgery. Heart failure is not easy, but I am so thankful for the technology that has been created to ensure that I can live a long life!
So what’s next? I have to go off a medication and a few weeks after doing that, I will have another procedure where the extra beats I have, will be blasted away. It’s a much less invasive procedure than this one, so this time I think I will be prepared!
If you’ve been wondering what the device in me does, think of an AED – the external paddles that are used to resuscitate someone. Basically, that is what I have inside of me. I have what’s called a lead, that follows my rib cage, up my sternum, that reads my heartbeat/rate. Anytime it goes into a dangerous rhythm, it will shock my heart back into rhythm. From what I’ve read, it’s as small as a little thump to as big as a kick to the chest. So let’s just hope that it never goes off first of all, but if it does, it’s just a little thump!
Anyways, thanks again for all of the support and love you have shown our family! And for walking this road with us – we sure know we don’t walk alone!