Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Strangeness of Not Having a Pacemaker

Up until a month ago I'd had a pacemaker as long as I could remember but now, very suddenly, I don't have one. I originally had my pacemaker after heart surgery caused damage to my heart and caused it to slow down and stop when I was asleep. Unfortunately my fifth pacemaker became infected and needed to be removed and as my heart is doing okay on it's own it shouldn't need replacing. So now I'm not battery powered I've noticed some changes. A lot of the strange feelings I'd attributed to my pacemaker "kicking in" turns out to just be my heart. But I'm definitely getting less weird feelings, which I take as a plus.

The biggest change I've found is my sleeping pattern. For as long as I can remember I've struggled to switch off. It was rare for me to take less than an hour to fall asleep. But now, without my pacemaker, it's suddenly so easy to sleep! I can lie down in a bed, close my eyes, and be gone in 10 minutes. If I'd stayed awake for three days I couldn't have managed that before. I've taken longer to fall asleep after taking sleeping tablets. Mornings are a bit easier now too. I'm still far from being a morning person but I feel less grumpy in the mornings these days. It feels less like I'm dragging myself into consciousness and just feels a bit more natural. Getting to sleep easily is really improving my anxiety levels too. I'd always end up getting worked up about something in the early hours of the morning or suffering from unpleasant flashbacks. But now I'm getting to sleep before I have time to start worrying about anything. 

It's also very strange not having a box in my chest. It feels like something is missing even though it sort of feels like something is still there because the muscle has been well and truly chopped up and there's a lot of scar tissue and mangled nerve endings so the area is numb in places and very sensitive in others and the muscle is sore and slow to heal. I think it'll take a long time to heal up and probably won't ever heal fully. It feels strange to touch my chest and not have that chunk of metal there, though. It feels very flat even though I still have some swelling that's yet to go down.  

I'm so happy that I don't need another one. The thought of more surgery scares me because my body is weak and it's a fine balance keeping it happy. Something like surgery really messes everything up and I feel like surviving that kind of invasion is becoming less of a certainty. Even after getting through 17 surgeries, I don't take it for granted that I will get through them. So avoiding more surgery is just the best possible outcome and I must admit it's heartening too that somewhere within all the bad luck I've had, some good luck survives.

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