Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD) Replacement: It only hurts when I move.
Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD) Replacement:
It only hurts when I move.

In case you've been wondering:

I was at Ann Arbor VA Healthcare Cardiac Center, LTC Charles S. Kettles VAMC in Michigan on Wednesday for Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD) Replacement.

Of course I received a drive-up COVID test before entering the hospital. Even the surgical procedure has changed. This time my head was tented and soft straps were used.

I felt no pain during my one-hour monitoring and recovery. I expect I still had intravenous fentanyl in my system. After that hour elapsed and on the long drive home the excruciating pain kicked in. I could feel every single bump in the road — there were many.

Last time wore a sling for six weeks — no more. I had to go in to my local VA for a followup check, and then again for suture removal. Now I'm only required to call cardiology or my primary care provider if there's a problem.

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a battery-powered device that can prevent cardiac arrest and sudden death. The device is placed under your skin and installed through blood vessels. Thin wires connect the device to your heart.

... The implantable defibrillator delivers an electric shock to correct an abnormal heartbeat. If your heartbeat is too fast, the ICD will send a shock to the heart to slow it to a normal rate. An ICD may have additional features, such as a pacemaker feature that will stimulate the heart or the ability to record heart activity.

Read the full article: Will Medicare Cover Implantable Defibrillators? | Medicare & Medicare Advantage Info, Help and Enrollment
Doctors will often recommend ICDs for prevention of sudden cardiac death in patients who suffer from reduced cardiac function and who may be at risk of suffering from life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms. These abnormal rhythms, also known as ventricular arrhythmias, can occur when the heart beats too fast or chaotically leaving the heart unable to pump blood effectively. CRT-Ds are used to prevent sudden death similar to traditional ICDs, but in addition act to restore the normal timing of the ventricles or lower chambers of the heart in patients with reduced cardiac function and progressive heart failure despite optimal medical therapy.

Read the full article: Abbott Introduces Next-Generation Heart Rhythm Management Devices in Europe, Featuring State-of-the-Art Patient App and Bluetooth Connectivity - Feb 18, 2020
My previous device battery (generator) was estimated to last around five years. It actually held up for almost seven years; even after multiple shocks.

My ICD (a defibrillator/pacemaker) literally saved my life seven times with shocks when I developed ventricular fibrillation (VF) in 2018, including four times in a row once (called a V-Strike). I had Ventricular Tachycardia Ablation surgery in October that year to repair it, followed by blood thinners to prevent clotting. I usually only take a daily baby aspirin. I'm certain I suffered from PTSD for at least a year after that, even though a social worker I talked to just once disagreed.

I could not have an MRI with my old device and had to avoid almost all magnetic interference. It used a clunky remote monitor (measuring about 8" X 12" by 4") that used cellular to share heart rhythm information with my cardiology clinic. Now I can!

My new generator is expected to last much longer — ten-12 years. God willing, I will last as long as it does. It uses Bluetooth wireless for remote monitoring with the myMerlinPulse app on my smartphone.
The app’s intuitive user-friendly interface allows you to check if your heart device is connected with your doctor, get information about your heart device including its battery status, view the history of transmissions and send manual transmissions to your healthcare provider, and be notified if there has been a significant change in the performance of your implanted device.
I didn't have all these capabilities before. We had to drive two-three hours to Ann Arbor for an appointment to check my device battery. The technological advancements are amazing!

The last two days I was taking prescribed Vicodin, and of course I'm on a regimen of antibiotics. All I wanted to do is sleep the pain away. I imagine it's like being stabbed with a knife, but with a scalpel instead. It's still very painful and I'm tired, but I'm only taking Tylenol now. It even hurts to cough. I'm recuperating, but will catch up quickly as I can.

I'm not allowed to lift my left arm above my head. It will be hard to move it much for some time. Right now I'm limited to holding less than four pounds (a gallon of water), but I'm doing even less than that — maybe one pound at most.

My sutures will self-disintegrate over time. I think it takes about two weeks; maybe longer. I will have two ugly scars now. The surgeon did not use my previous incision, but created a new one to align my device better. My old ICD sticked out and I could always feel it by touch.

I spent several days prior to surgery maniacally doing household tasks I knew from prior experience that I wouldn't be able to manage post-surgery.

My bad heart is a long story that I shared on previous blogs, but no longer have access to. I may try to recreate it sometime.