"A good heart is better than all the heads in the world." (Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton)
Got out of hospital last night at long last. Was in there 4 nights in total. Every thing is good and I have a €20,000 device, half the size of a mobile phone stuck under my left collar bone. Good job I was insured. This is connected by 3 wires to various chambers of the heart which synchronise the activity of the left and right ventricle. In the, hopefully, unlikely event of another heart attack this will also kick in and deliver a huge defibrillator shock which will restore the heart system.
Looking back, It did come as a huge shock, when in October 2021 at a routine six monthly check up with my cardiologist, he informed me that my "Ejection Fraction" had dropped from 34% to 30%. After all the medications I had taken and the hill walking I had done, this had not strengthened my ticker wall as expected. In fact a deterioration had occurred. Talk about a kick in the nether regions. He recommended an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD). This is a small device which can treat people with dangerously abnormal heart rhythms. It sends electrical pulses to regulate abnormal heart rhythms, especially those that could be dangerous and cause a cardiac arrest.
The ICD is placed under the skin, usually in the space just below the collar bone to monitor the heart rate. Thin wires connect the ICD to the heart, where it's always checking your heart rate and rhythm. It monitors your heart rhythm through the electrodes. If an ICD notices a dangerous heart rhythm it can deliver one or more of the following treatments:
Pacing – a series of low-voltage electrical impulses (paced beats) at a fast rate to try and correct the heart rhythm.
Cardioversion – one or more small electric shocks to try and restore the heart to a normal rhythm.
Defibrillation – one or more larger electric shocks to try and restore the heart to a normal rhythm.
It sends electrical pulses to regulate abnormal heart rhythms, especially those that could be dangerous and cause a cardiac arrest.
During my stay I got very grumpy. To be honest I went a bit stir crazy in the hospital after the operation. Apart from the nurses who, admittedly, were only going about their job, I saw the surgeon for 10 minutes a day post-op. Apart from that I missed human contact and only had four walls to look at or a mobile phone screen. I can assure you that looking at a mobile phone for over twelve hours a day isn't good for your sanity! In the end I tried to keep off it as much as I could.
I also got extremely frustrated with the disorganisation and bad communication from the Spanish surgeon He was excellent at his job but just didn't communicate what was happening nor when I would be able to leave. Typical Spanish disorganisation!
I must admit to much trepidation going home last night. I was hoping the bumps in the road didn't set off the bloody thing!
I see the surgeon again next Wednesday when he will connect his machine via Bluetooth to the ICD and analyse how everything has been working since the implant. He can then tweak settings accordingly. Clever stuff eh? I gather that it is also possible to have a small device at your home that will collect information from the ICD. This is so the doctor can connect remotely and see how your heart is working.
I've now just to get on with life. The skin below the collar bone is still very sore so I am restricted in left arm movement. This is where the wound was made that houses the implant and where the wires then follow the veins back into the heart. Funnily enough the wound was closed with an adhesive, so no need for stitches.
I guess it might be a couple of weeks before I can use my arm properly and lift things. Apart from that there is no real restrictions but I am reluctant to "push" the exercise too much as I'd hate the thing to go off when I'm stood over a hundred metre drop! It's a learning curve for me and I have to gain confidence in the thing.
Must have been very difficult for Kiersten and my daughters not being able to hear from me or see me for long periods. I felt the love and support from them though and it was much appreciated. I had had a remarkable outpouring of support from both Spanish and English friends. I wrote a social post on my return to civilisation that expressed my feelings.
Es increíble los comentarios que he recibido durante la semana pasada. Es verdad, las redes sociales pueden ser una gran fuente de ayuda. Ya estoy en casa, recuperando bien. El implante ha sincronizada los dos ventriculares de mi corazón. En una semana empiezo mi entrenamiento para volver a las montañas de mi vida.Mi corazón dice gracias. Gracias profesionales medicos. Gracias familia. Y gracias amigos. Un abrazo a todos.
It's amazing the feedback I've received over the past week. It's true, social networks can be a great source of help.I'm home now, recovering well. The implant has synchronized the two ventricles of my heart. In a week I start my training to return to the mountains of my life. My heart says thank you. Thank you medical professionals. Thanks family. And thanks to my friends. A hug to all.