We take a lot of things for granted in our lives.
Perhaps the most taken for granted and least well understood things among most of us are integral parts of our bodies like our innards – liver, kidneys and even our faithful pump – the heart.
They are taken for granted because, for most of us, they simply do their day and night jobs without much fuss or notice. If we were transparent (ugh), there is little doubt in my mind most of us would be more interested and knowledgeable about our inner workings. But we are, in fact, opaque; therefore we go along blithely until some chain jerks us into reality.
Which is what recently prompted me to quickly learn a lot more about my pump than I had planned or anticipated.
My doc is a leading NY cardiologist who has been tracking my heart for more than 30 years and noting that I have had a constant murmur of arrhythmia but otherwise it has been doing its job nicely. He has been treating my cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood thinners and saying we will keep an eye on developments.
Recently I called his attention to some new shortness of breath and sleepy fatigue – completely different from my normal excess of energy and curiosity.
After a few new tests that showed my heart beat more slowly than usual and blood pressure drooping, he said the time had come to get a pacemaker.
I have, of course, heard of pacemakers, but knew next to nothing about them.
Not surprisingly, not all pacemakers are created equal—as to size, function and purpose.
Mine is installed next to my left shoulder and has ‘wires’ that are cleverly installed in the left and right, lower ventricles and I am told should keep my heart pumping nicely in rhythm for a very long time. At least, all other things equal, long enough to need a battery replacement in about six years.
At 87 today, that is great news!
Why am I telling you all this gruesome detail, you are no doubt asking yourself.
The answer is that about half of all the people I have spoken to since have chastised me for not asking for their advice because they have had a pacemaker, or 2 or 3, for 25 years. Shame on them, and me, for being so private that I stayed so ignorant for so long.
And, I thought perhaps the time has come to share this useful information for everyone’s long term benefit.
Indeed modern medicine is truly amazing.
And, now another doc has suggested that I amend my living will to add a clause reading, “When my brain dies be sure to turn off the f#&%ing pump, or I might linger forever!”
And nobody would want that!