Don’t be a tough guy!

I can guarantee that this Christmas is going to be better than last Christmas!

Last December 10, I had my pacemaker replaced. The battery was running dry, so it was a simple procedure – the operation only took about 45 minutes. After they released me later that day, the hospital staff instructed me to resume taking my medications (including Warfarin) that night.

In retrospect, the Warfarin might have been resumed a bit too soon. My pacemaker is implanted in my left abdomen, just beneath the rib cage. In a few days I had developed a bruise that ran from the incision down to my waist, and stretched from my navel to the small of my back.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the painkillers weren’t working. Medical personnel will often ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being “I don’t hurt a bit.” and 10 being “I hurt too much to die!” They had prescribed Lortab, but I learned that Lortab makes me sleepy, and that’s about it. My pain level was 8+, and I spent most of my waking hours sitting in a wooden straight backed chair.

“Wouldn’t you be more comfortable in a recliner, or on the sofa?” a lot of people asked me, and I’m sure that I would have. But getting seated and getting back up bothered me so much, it was much easier to stick with my wooden chair. At least I could reach a light to read and could see the TV. That’s about all there was to do.

I got an appointment to see my Cardiologist on the 19th… pretty quickly for a doctor’s appointment, but that’s forever when you are hurting. The staff did the blood pressure check, the PulseOx, and then the doctor came in.

“Let me see this bruise you were telling me about,” he asked. I took my shirt off.

“Yowsa!” he said when he saw my king sized bruise. I wondered if that was a recognized diagnostic term.

My doc is on the ball. I left his office with a prescription for a stronger painkiller and another week’s worth of antibiotics just in case. Since I had my new pacemaker implanted at the hospital, the pacemaker team sent someone up to examine me, also. “We’re going to have to rethink our anticoagulant therapy procedures, that’s for sure,” he said.

The new painkillers helped almost immediately, but it was about a month before I felt completely human again, and a six weeks before the pacemaker replacement was just an unpleasant memory.

If you are having heart surgery or any number of cardiac procedures, there is going to be some pain involved, and you may just have to put up with it for a little while. But you shouldn’t just HURT, not to the point that you can’t even sit in a padded chair. That’s the time when you don’t need to be the toughest guy on the planet; call your doctor and get some help.

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2 Responses to “Don’t be a tough guy!”

  1. carolyn compton Says:

    Clarence came home from daycare last month and he had a minor accident with his cheek on the side of a table…not unusual as he is still learning to walk. no mark that day except a small red line. The next day he had a bruise across one eye and into the next! he had two black eyes! We saw the cardiologist on our regular 6 monthlies and he didn’t seem to think it was unusual! wow!

    Clarry is on a baby aspirin and that’s it after his bi-glenn. until his fontan. He got a beautiful report from Steve the Cardiologist! but he does bruise up! the daycare staff feel so guilty! …it needs ice and to keep him away from toddler biters!

  2. Gina Dyke Says:

    I completely agree, even when dealing with our very young heart child. Casey is very verbal, but doesn’t express his pain well, so we don’t always wait for him to tell us he’s hurting…we just go ahead and give him the pain meds. And, as a parent I LOVE Versed, because it calms his anxiety enough to let the docs perform small procedures while awake (taking out stitches, tubes, etc.), yet he has a happy memory of it!

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