Ten years ago I had a pacemaker installed in my chest, as the electrical system, through which the upper chambers of my heart tell the lower chambers to pump the blood out to my body, was almost totally disabled.
At the time of installation, my pulse rate was 24-28 beats per minute. Within 30 days of the installation, my hearts ability to relay the necessary electrical messages had totally ceased. I was now totally pacemaker dependent… apparently fixed in the nick of time.
Throughout the following ten years, I had no heart trouble of any sort, and never had any reason to think my life was anything but normal.
Pacemakers, being battery operated, need battery replacement, and by November 2012, it was time for mine to be replaced.
Prior to my scheduled hospital appointment, my cardiologist spent much time endeavouring to convince me to have an additional lead inserted into my heart, to enable the heart to perform more rhythmically. The original installation placed 2 leads in my heart, one in the upper chamber, and one in the lower chamber, of the left side. Technological advances over the ten years since the original was installed, had meant that it was now possible to install a lead through the heart to the outside of the right side of the heart, which is said to make the heartbeat much more like that of the natural heart. In addition, my cardiologist felt, that as I was, and am, totally dependent on the battery signals for my existence, that the additional lead would ensure my survival, should one of the earlier installed leads fail.
I however remained unconvinced. I had without any hiccups survived the past 10 years, and saw no reason for any further invasive procedures. I felt and still feel, more dependent on God, than on the doctor. He was not happy with my decision and tried on a number of occasions to change my mind.
On 9th November 2012, the day before my 73rd birthday, the operation took place. The early part of the procedure went smoothly, but when it was discovered that my heart was occasionally missing a beat, (something I had known for a long time), a sense of panic seemed to take over the surgical team, and the cardiologist again worked on me to accept the 3rd lead. Whilst I was not perturbed by the panic attitude, perhaps as a result of my anaesthetised state or the fact that I had been in prayer from the start of the procedure, or both, I eventually succumbed to his insistence and agreed for the extra lead to be inserted.
Some hours after recovery, the pacemaker expert who had been present during the surgery, checked the functioning of the pacemaker and reported all was well. He advised me that so as to not risk detaching of the new lead from the pacemaker unit, I must not play golf for 6 weeks, and not perform any activities that involved stretching my arms above my head. I agreed.
The next morning another pacemaker technician tested the pacemaker, and immediately rang her superior to advise that the new lead was not working, and a monitor that I wore during the night recorded it as ceasing at 2:30 am.
The pacemaker chief travelled 80 km’s to add his analysis, but he could only agree with his assistants findings. He said the operation would need to be done again. I asked of the possibility of the lead re-connecting without surgery, to which he replied, it was impossible; I would need to have the operation re-done.
Shortly after, the cardiologist arrived, and after also testing the pacemaker, reiterated the bad news. He booked me in for the re-doing for the following week-end. I had made up my mind to not proceed with a further operation but chose not to tell him at that time. Later on that day he rang to say he had obtained ‘a part’ which would enable him to re-do the procedure today. I said no…. I’d rather next week.
The news of the failure of the lead was very disappointing. I felt God had let me down; but when I thought rationally about it, I realised I had everything I went in for and more. I had a bigger more powerful pacemaker, and my missing heartbeat, of which I had known for years, had been programmed out of the pacemaker. I had no reason to be disappointed.
After I returned home I emailed my cardiologist thanking him for what he had done, and advising him that I was not concerned about the 3rd lead failure, so I wouldn’t be proceeding with the planned next operation.
He emailed the next day, insisting that I come see him to ensure I understood the ramifications of my decision. I went later that day. He again tested the pacemaker and the result was unchanged. He told me that if it were not reconnected within a few weeks it would cease to be possible. He said he was concerned for my safety, as I was totally pacemaker dependent and this lead if re-connected would greatly increase my survival prospects. After 20 minutes of his advising, I again thanked him, and let him know that if my pacemaker fails, I will be in God’s hands.
On 21st January 2013, I had my scheduled, “after installation appointment” with the cardiologist, to ensure the pacemaker was continuing to operate correctly.
Before testing it, he again stressed that I had made the wrong choice about not re-connecting the 3rd lead, but that it was not too late to change my mind…. even though earlier, he had said I needed to do it within a few weeks. I said everything is working well and I don’t regret my decision.
He then checked the pacemaker. His first comment was “that’s amazing”, followed by “that’s amazing” and then “that’s incredible”. I said “what’s amazing”? “The third lead is working” he said; followed by many more “that’s amazing” and “that’s incredible”. ‘The impossible’ was presumably possible.
Another amazing fact is, that since I didn’t know that God had re-connected the lead, I didn’t abstain from golf, and played 2-3 times per week from the time of the operation; and the new connection did not disconnect.
No wonder the cardiologist kept saying amazing and incredible. I prefer to say… “miraculous”…and thank you my lord and my God.