For the last couple of years it seemed that I have had periods of weakness, lethargy and loss of energy which left me feeling winded and with other flu-like symptoms. I attributed them to having contracted one or another of the numerous "bugs" floating around these days.
I made several visits to my doctor who ran blood tests, X-rays and all manner of tests including wearing heart monitors and taking stress tests and they could not find any reason why I was feeling so draggy.
While on my bus returning from a rained out concert in Florida Sunday night, I checked my blood pressure and discovered that my heart's beats per minute was dipping into the low 40's and I felt that old flu-type feeling again.
I went to the doctor Monday and was diagnosed with a slight case of pneumonia, and after having an EKG, it was discovered that my heart was indeed having periods of slipping into the 40's and occasionally the 30 beats per minute range and the doctor felt it would be best to keep me in the hospital overnight, hook me up to a heart monitor and see what was happening.
Well, what was happening was that my heart was not only beating slow but was in a state of arrhythmia from what is known as A-fib or atrial fibrillation which simply means my heart was out of rhythm, or skipping the occasional beat which means that the oxygen and nutrients the blood carries to the parts of the body are not getting to their destinations in the proper amount of time, causing shortness of breath and a general malaise.
The problem was not a mechanical one where the heart was defective from disease or injury, but one of electronics, dealing with the parts that, through electrical impulses, keep the heart beating at the proper rate and in rhythm. My heart was healthy, but basically the wiring was faulty.
Now that we knew what was wrong it was time to make a choice of what to do about it.
There were basically three options; medicine, administering drugs to straighten things out, oblation, (going into the heart through an artery and sealing off the area that was causing the faulty impulses) or a pacemaker, which is a disk roughly the size of a quarter that works 24/7 regulating the steadiness and rhythm of the heartbeat.
My doctor, Dr. Ellis at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, left the choice up to me, but I could tell that he was leaning towards the pacemaker.
He said, "If you want to, you can go home and think about it before you make a decision." But I said, "No, I'm here, so let's do whatever we're going to do before I leave the hospital."
I opted for the pacemaker, so next morning they wheeled me down to an operating room, put me to sleep and in about an hour I woke up with a brand new pacemaker and a steady heartbeat of 70 beats per minute.
Even though a couple of days after the procedure I still feel a little weak, I can already tell that things are going to be a lot better and the pacemaker is going to make a major difference in my life.
There was very little pain involved in having the pacemaker installed; a small incision on the left side of my upper chest is the only outward appearance it left, and some weakness and soreness about the only residual effect.
I never cease to be amazed at the incredible strides medicine has made in the 76 years I've been on Earth and to think that a quarter size disk just under the skin of my chest can make such a difference in my life is nothing short of incredible.
Middle Tennessee is truly blessed to have a hospital like Vanderbilt and all the excellent doctors there. Being a recipient of that blessing makes it even more special and I humbly thank one and all at that great institute.
But above all, I thank the Great Physician, the Creator and giver of all healing.
Thank you Lord.
What do you think?
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