October 30, 2011
Thank you for your prayers.
What more can one say. MANY of you wrote to assure me that you would be praying for my pace maker implant on October 21, and it basically went well. Others did not write, but I know you were praying. Anything I say about the procedure may not be medically precise (excuse me medical friends), but hopefully will be understood be each one.
I was taken to the operating room at 8 a.m. and had the anesthesia injected in the area of my left shoulder. They also put something in the intravenous drip in my right arm that made my fingers tingle before putting me into a light sleep. I next felt the final firm pushes on the incision to close it. I found that this was done with super glue that holds the skin together, so there were no stitches. Interesting technology. The operation was a bit complicated because the vein did not pop up to be easily visible for the insertion of the wires, which go down into the heart. Therefore the surgeon had to do some extra probing to find the vein. They said that this probably caused some extra bleeding, and a bit more discomfort in the recovery process. But nine days later I can say that recovery has gone very well.
Thursday I saw the doctor, and he was pleased. I return in six weeks to have the voltage regulated (I think reduced) and then will have regular visits each six months. This monitoring is often done by telephone in the U. S., but the technology is not available YET in Colombia.
Elizabeth was invited into the recovery room to be with me until I was released. Very humane treatment for patient and also the wife. At three I was taken to have an x-ray to assure that everything was in its proper position. This produced a very clear x-ray and makes a great conversation item now as one sees the pacemaker and the wires as they go to two different positions in the heart, one in the upper chamber, and one in a lower chamber. A HUGE shock for me when I was at home was to see on the St. Jude web page (name of the pacemaker manufacturer) is that my 2112 model has a cost of $11,440. I don’t know how much the insurance company actually pays at hospital. But I am thankful for insurance. My total co-pay for hospital, doctor, pacemaker, etc., etc. was a total of under $30.
My life has been normal. I actually went to a seminary social event (across the street from our apartment) Friday night and was able to stay for a bit over an hour. Saturday was mostly rest. Sunday was church and some shopping. Monday was a regular routine day, with this week being very busy trying to do daily activity, catch up and finish a major report for a foundation.
Usual questions: What do you feel, or does it hurt? There was a four inch incision and some probing, as well as the formation of a pocket between the outer skin and muscle where the pacemaker is placed, and wires were run down the vein to the heart, so there is some discomfort and large black and blue areas. However, the discomfort has really been minimal. I can’t use my arm over shoulder height for three weeks, or carry more than ten pounds, nor do heavy exercise, but otherwise life continues. Eight to ten years down the road, I will need a new battery, which means surgically removing the device to put in the battery (which will then have to happen after another eight to ten years), but the wires should last for twenty years. Will I need new wires? Maybe, as I still plan to leave Saturday, November 5 for my mother’s birthday on November 6, and remember it will be her 90th.
Again, thank you for the notes, the prayers, and your love for Elizabeth and me. We appreciate each of you. Please excuse me for not writing personal answers to each of you.
I will be in California November 5-10 to celebrate Mom’s birthday, and Elizabeth will be in Boca Raton, Florida with Overseas Council International from November 8-14. Pray for our safe travels.
Don and Elizabeth
Faithfully serving with Latin America Mission at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia in Medellin.