Posts Tagged ‘Medtronic’

Electric HeartAs many of you have been reading my blog on a consistent basis, know that I have multiple devices implanted into the left side of my chest in order to keep my heart beating as best as possible until a donor heart becomes available for a transplant. I have a Bi-Valve Pacemaker (Medtronic), an ICD – Internal Cardio Defibrillator (Medtronic), and an LVAD – Left Ventricle Assist Device (Thoratec). Two things these devices all have in common, is that one, they are keeping me alive, and two they require and utilize electricity to perform their respective functions.

The ICD and Pacemaker are fully implanted in my body, and run on a battery pack that sits under my left pectoral muscle just under my collar bone. The LVAD needs external Lithium-ion batteries that can allow me freedom and mobility for 12 hours per pair of batteries, and I can run off wall current at home.  The home device that allows me to plug into the wall, only allows my 30 feet of freedom as I am on a cord plugged into a Power Base which then is plugged into the wall.

The LVAD has lead to many nights of sleeplessness and worry on those evenings when we have had inclement weather and I need to worry about power outages or whether or not I have to switch back to batteries to sleep that night. My friends affected by Hurricane Sandy had to truly find unique solutions to keep powered, from generators, to Fire and Ambulance Stations, to car battery converters and generous neighbors.

Marvel Comic's Thor (all rights reserved)

Marvel Comic’s Thor (all rights reserved)

Recently I have had issues with my ICD which has caused a rollercoaster of emotions, and experiences with electricity. The purpose of my ICD is to deliver a life-saving “therapeutic” dose of Electricity to my heart to knock it out of dangerously high heart beat situations.  Think of heart rates in the 280-300 beats per minutes equal to being very dangerous meaning impending unconsciousness or death (remember that Bruce Banner only needs his heart rate to exceed 200 beats per minutes to transform into the Hulk). So when my ICD gathers electricity and jolts my heart, it is working heroically like Thor and his Hammer.

Two weeks ago I suffered from a rapid heartbeat in the 280-300 bpm range and was shocked by my ICD six times with no effect on the beat, which my heart decided to correct on its own. This caused concern with my cardiology team to a point of identifying that the potential area where these abnormal evil arrhythmias (Think Electro – Spiderman’s Villain) were originating from an area of the heart where the two main leads weren’t successfully reaching it. It was decided to add a third lead coil to help create a

Marvel Comic's Electro (all rights reserved)

Marvel Comic’s Electro (all rights reserved)

broader field (leaving Electro less places to hide).  The surgery was a success, and my equipment was tested to make sure it would fire appropriately when need be to knock out the problem electrical rate.

So, now I have more metal and wires for my own Iron Man suit, but no armor or lasers (yet).

Many people also go through a lot of mental stress over being shocked. According to many thought leaders it can result in the same levels of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) where one shock is equivalent to being shot. Well I took six shots, so I guess there’s a bit more to work through there. All of your prayers and support mean everything to us, but with Faith, Family, Friends, and Mental Will we’ll get through this latest chapter.

 

 

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Picard/Locutus from http://www.startrek.com

OK, so let’s get this out of the way; it’s no big secret that I am a Christian. No, you don’t have to be one also to read this blog. I will try to not be one of those that like to “vomit” their Faith on someone. I won’t try to convert you or brainwash you or cast the first stone. I just want you to know that I am blogging about my life and my experiences, and a huge part of my life and experiences is my Faith journey (if any of it can be helpful in your life, then awesome!). You may see a reference every once in a while to a piece of scripture, or I may post a song that has helped me get through the dark and rough parts of my heart health and life, but feel free to skip those parts, or click away to whatever else you are searching for on the web.

Cyborg Superman from DC Comics

That being said, a way to know I am moving further on the path of my Faith journey, is how I am being transformed as an individual (and growing hopefully). As I stated above, I just didn’t think it would be into a Cyborg!

With all of the equipment that I have had installed (Medtronic ICD and Bi-Valve Pacer & Thoratec Corporation’s Heartmate II plus all of the associated leads and wires) my chest cavity on the left side is mostly metal, silicon, porcelain and other “artificial materials”. My “organic” heart is still in there beating away, but when you listen to my chest, you can hear the “whirr” of the turbine controlling the blood flow through the heart. The Sci-fi geek side of me would say I am being “assimilated” into the Borg Collective, or that I now rely on technology to survive in life like DC Comic’s Cyborg Superman or Cyborg of the Teen Titans, or like Marvel’s Iron Man (all factors that help me relate to depending on all of this to live my life).

 

DC Comic's Cyborg of the Teen Titans

It has also put my life and outlook on life into perspective. I know I am not in control of my life. I live at the whim of a Power greater than my own. I can’t physically even support my body without relying on these devices to do so. I have a profound understanding of the phrase; “There, but for the Grace of God go I.”

I look at each day as a gift and enjoy seeing what new surprise I can find each day with my wife and children. My priorities are coming into alignment and I see (in High Definition) what issues are truly important, and what issues really merit no attention, stress, or worry any more. How is that coming in your life?

 

Oh…and I couldn’t leave out just one more geeky reference! – Transformers! Robots in Disguise!