To everyone who has been asking — here’s what will happen (to me) this Tuesday . . .
The Surgery (The doctor told me this was a PROCEDURE!)
You ( read: Judy) will receive a local anesthetic to freeze the area where the pacemaker will be inserted. You will be awake but relaxed. (That’s what they tell everyone) The surgery will last 30 to 60 minutes. The anesthetist and operating room nurses will be there to attend to your needs. The anesthetist will start an intravenous in a vein to give you antibiotic and other medications to relax you. (Read: Put me out so I don’t wiggle around and annoy the surgeon)
In the operating room your heartbeat will be monitored along with your blood pressure. When your pacemaker is inserted you probably won’t feel any pain, (because I’ll be out cold or too scared to feel anything) but you may feel a pressure sensation. (which is what I’ve been feeling in my chest for months that brought me here)
First, your doctor will place a (large) needle in a large vein, usually near the shoulder opposite your dominant hand. Your doctor will then use the (large) needle to thread the pacemaker wires into the vein and to the correct place in your heart. (CORRECT is NOT an assumption it’s a mandate)
An x-ray “movie” (Remind me to check out x-rated pacemaker movies on the internet) of the wires as they pass through your vein and into your heart will help your doctor place them. Once the wires are in place, your doctor will make a small cut into the skin of your chest or abdomen.
He or she (It’s a He) will then slip the pacemaker’s small metal box through the cut, place it just under your skin, and connect it to the wires that lead to your heart. The box contains the pacemaker’s battery and generator. (and a personal Genie?)
Once the pacemaker is in place, your doctor will test it to make sure it works properly. (I would expect this is a given)
He or she (I told you it’s a He) will then sew up the cut. The entire surgery takes a few hours. (My doctor said 15 minutes)
After your surgery you will be taken to the recovery room. The nurses will check your dressing over your pacemaker site, your intravenous and take you back to your room as soon as you are ready.(Read: As soon as I ask for something to eat and can pee)
Your incision will be three to four inches long, ( 3-4 inch fake tattoos needed) on the left side of your chest (if you are right-handed), just below the collar bone. The stitches will dissolve as the incision heals. You will not need to come back to the hospital to get them removed. (because Medicare doesn’t pay for stitch removal).
Are we having fun yet?
To everyone who has been concerned — I’m doing great. My doctor, Stephen Ehrlich, MD is a specialist in Cardiac Electrophysiology. He knows what he’s doing, even if I don’t.