Yesterday I shared that I will have an ICD (internal defibrillator) put in place in the next few weeks.
I know that as the patient, I understand all the medical terminology of heart failure (most of the time), but I realize that sometimes it’s kind of hard to picture or understand what in the world I’m talking about.
So, let me explain a bit more where I’m at.
Like I mentioned earlier, we were hoping my EF (ejection fraction – how hard the heart squeezes) would improve with the new med, amiodarone, that I am on. We were most certain it had improved to some degree because I rarely felt those extra/irregular beats called PVCs. Maybe a few a day. In September, my PVC burden (percentage of crazy beats) was 13.72% which is quite high compared to my previous test of 8% a few months prior. That caused quite a bit of concern and that is why they put me on amiodarone. Well that change and new med worked because now my PVC burden is only .02%! Yes, you read that correctly.
Unfortunately though, that means the PVCs are not causing my low EF and my low EF is a whole separate issue. Now I’m back to two issues – low EF and frequent PVCs.
I can’t be on amiodarone forever because it can cause organ damage (which that’s the last thing I need – another organ to go!) As a result, I will have an ICD implanted so that they can wean me off of that med. As I come off of it, I will get those PVCs back, putting me at an even greater risk for cardiac arrest (heart attack). I’m already high on the spectrum, but God keeps my heart ticking and that is why I’m thankful each day that I am here!
It can take a few months for that med to leave my body completely so in my head, I’m thinking it could be a rough few weeks when I am weaned off of it and am waiting for the next step, whatever that may be. That will hopefully be determined somewhat next week.
So how does an ICD work? I’m a visual person, so hope this helps:
I will have a device about the size of an Altoid box implanted into my side:
This is what it will look like inside my body (below). I will have a bulge and it will require surgery to implant, which means two more scars, but hey, they tell my story. Plus, I will be even with scars then because I have a scar running from my shoulder blade to under my armpit from my open heart surgery, so now having one on my left side, will make me even! It will be uncomfortable until my skin gets used to it, but I’m thinking this is relatively minor compared to my past and with my age I could go home that day, but will probably stay overnight for monitoring.
So what will it do? The ICD will sense when my heart is out of rhythm and will prevent me from going into a life-threatening cardiac event. To say I will have relief is an understatement, even if I have to have another “surgery” because this girl plans on living til she’s 100! It can be removed if needed and it will need a new battery in about 5 years.
So…that is what the next step looks like for me. I know some of this is so foreign and it was for us too. But believe it or not, I am happy with this next step! I can do this. Especially when I know it’ll save my life from the human perspective!
And I hope all of this is helpful as you read my blogs. So much info and so many words, but to sum it all up, God has blessed us with amazing doctors. This situation is out of our control, and each year it is taking more and more trust. Which isn’t always easy, trust me on that too. But I woke up with the song God is Good in my head and that sure wasn’t by mistake. He knew what I needed to be reminded of today! That God truly is good!