My device is an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD). It doesn’t pace my heart unless it needs pacing. It will also shock my heart if I need a defibrillator.
Why I needed it: I passed out while driving. My doctor believed it was heart related and referred me to a cardiologist.
Two doctors and 20 days later, I was in the hospital preparing for testing to determine if I needed the ICD. You may, or may not have to endure what I did at that point.
First stop – tilt table test. This was one of the worst experiences of my life. I was strapped to the table in a vertical position for thirty minutes. After twenty-five minutes, when nothing had happened, I was wondering why they wasted my time like this. Then it happened:
- My hands began to throb and turned red
- Dizziness – awful – nauseating dizziness
- The overwhelming feeling that I was going to vomit
- Whining, & begging for the tech to make it stop
Once the half hour was over, she returned the table to the horizontal position and just like that, all the feelings of dizziness and nausea were gone! That led the doctor to go on to the next step, an Electrophysiology (EP) Study.
The worst part of this was having the electrode catheter inserted into my groin. The result was that I did have Brugada Syndrome and therefore needed to have the ICD. They rolled my gurney to a different position, and began surgery. I was awake through the procedure. A sheet was place between my head and my left chest, where the device was to go. The doctor talked to me throughout the operation, explaining what he was doing at each step. They put me to sleep only when it was time to test the device.
For one week, I couldn’t:
- Lift anything over 10 pounds
- Raise my left arm above my shoulder (this prevents the leads that are place in your heart from pulling out before they are ‘scarred in’)
- Drive (time for this will depend on your situation)
For the rest of my life I will:
- Have the device checked every three months to make sure it is working (at the doctor’s office, over the phone, or through an at home machine that communicates with the doctor’s computer)
- Have the device replaced when the batteries discharge (every 5-10 years depending on device and what it does)
- Not go through a metal detector
- Never have an MRI
Most days I don’t even think about the insurance policy that is in my chest – but I am glad it is there.