Don’t mess with a good thing

I was in my local cardiologist’s office, having problems. I was having dizzy spells and nausea, and each time I had those symptoms, I also had a heart flutter. This day was not shaping up to be one of the best.

Important Safety Tip: If you have a Congenital Heart Defect, you need the services of a very good cardiologist. Since my Adult Congenital Heart Defect Cardiologist is in Atlanta, I also have a local cardiologist that I see. He’s not an Adult Congenital specialist – I know, I’m breaking my own rule – but he’s a smart guy. If he’s faced with a situation he can’t resolve, he’ll call my Doc in Atlanta rather than insisting that he can figure it out himself.

The day had started pretty good. I was up early because it was a day that I was scheduled to work at the museum, and during breakfast my face got hot and I got dizzy. At the same moment I felt as if I was going to throw up, and I felt my heart skip a few beats. That’s unusual, especially considering that I have a pacemaker. But it passed in just a second, so I just mentally marked it as “One of those things”.

But then it happened again while I was getting a shower. Ok, once is a glitch, twice… twice is a problem. So now I was sitting in my local cardiologist’s office.

After an examination and X-Rays, the doctor’s next step was to interrogate the pacemaker. The word interrogate brings to mind memories of the TV show Homicide: Life of the Street. But that is almost the way it works: An electronic device communicates with the pacemaker and asks “Hey, what’s going on in there?”

Thankfully the cure was a simple one. A week earlier in I had stopped by the Pacemaker Clinic in Atlanta for my  yearly check. Your pacemaker clinic will check the pacer via telephone every few months, but at least once a year they want to see you in the home office. Not only do they get a better reading with you being monitored in person and not over a telephone line, but the best diagnostic tool ever invented is still the eyeball.

“I think we can turn your pacemaker down a little bit,” the pacemaker tech in Atlanta had told me. I was all in favor of that: Pacemaker batteries normally last 10 years or more, but because of my unusual heart, mine had worn out in less than three. So if they could do anything that would save the battery, I was all for it.

It turned out that my heart needed to be fully paced… tech-speak meaning my pacemaker needs to be running at full power all of the time. Turning the power down had set me up for the missed beats, the nausea, and the dizziness. Bummer!

But having a good local cardiologist kept me from making an emergency trip to Atlanta, so having a good local doctor is something you may want to think about.

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2 Responses to “Don’t mess with a good thing”

  1. Rebecca Hitchcock Says:

    Hey Steve, I’m glad they figured out the problem with the pacemaker and you are feeling better! Hope you are doing well!

  2. Kim Says:

    Glad they figured out what’s going on without too much intrusion or travel. Hope you feel better quickly!

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