Pacemaker Surgery

Two weeks ago tomorrow marks the day that I got my pacemaker/ICD replaced. Unlike the other surgeries I've had though, they did not put me on a ventilator. The reason for this is because how my body reacts to the ventilator, it can be very difficult to get me off of it. The last time I was on the ventilator, I ended up having an asthma attack and started a new kind of arrhythmia. So the safest option was to do locale anesthesia. 
During my pre-op checked up the doctors ran a few tests on my device. At one point during the check, they did a test with my pacemaker to see how my heart reacts to not being paced as much as it is normally. During this test though we had a small scare. My heart went into flutter the moment the pacemaker stopped pacing me. It took a few minutes to finally get the pacemaker to pace me out of it, the doctor had to come in and change a setting to get it do that. Because of this, the team was concerned that during the surgery when the pacemaker was "unplugged" from me, my heart would do the same thing that it had in the doctor's office. Thankfully though, they took out the pacemaker and my heart's rhythm stayed normal and there weren't any complications. 

I had been worried about being awake during the procedure, since I wasn't going to be put under. They gave me an injection in my back that numbed from my left shoulder do to my chest. I had no idea they were going to give me medicine to make me sleep though, so I was surprised when the anesthesiologist told me that I'd probably fall asleep. I thought I'd be aware of everything during this, but I was pleasantly surprised and relieved when I wasn't. However before I discovered that I wouldn't be completely awake, I had told my friend that I wanted to try and get mirror above me so I could watch the procedure. (The doctor's said no). So he asked me to try and take a selfie during the procedure. Since I couldn't take one during it, my doctors let me take one right before I got the medicine that would put me under. I sent it to my friend who declared that I had taken the very first surgery selfie. I think the photo turned out a lot better than it would've if I had taken it while laying down with a part of my chest open. But that's just my opinion. I got the surgery on Thursday, was discharged Friday and flew home on Saturday. It was one of the quickest and flawless procedures I've ever had. I'd love it if all future surgeries went like this. 

On Sunday I went to a local Japanese Festival with friend from heart camp. It was crazy to think that just three days before I had been in the hospital getting my pacemaker replaced and was I already out walking around. I had some pain for about a week and unfortunately could only take Tylenol. They didn't want me on Ibuprofen since last time I had gotten a hematoma after the surgery and they didn't want that to happen again - especially when I was in Arizona and they were back in California not able to do anything about it. After a week though I was starting to feel less and less pain. There are still times when I do something that hurts, such as trying to pull open the freezer door too quickly or extend my arm fully. But at this point I feel like I can most things with little to no pain. 
Monday afternoon some friends from heart camp came over for lunch at my place then we hung out for a bit at my place. We ended up going out to dinner to In N Out. It was great getting to see friends who "get" what it's like to have CHD. Some of these friends I've known since I was just 7 years old and all these years later, we are still there to support and love one another. 

Now that I am feeling so much better than I was earlier this year, I am started my application to GCU for the Fall. I have also gotten in contact with the heart camp through the Nick and Kelly Heart Fund and will be applying to be a counselor for their summer camp. It is up in the mountains, so I will have to wear oxygen 24/7, but they are more than willing to make it work for me - which I appreciate more than I could ever say. I have wanted to be a counselor for a heart camp for years now and I can't wait to meet the wonderful heart kids and let them know that having a good quality life with complex CHD is possible. My sister Kelly is getting married on Good Friday, which I am really excited for.  I am in charge of making the table center pieces, as well as something else - but I won't tell till after the wedding! (So you'll have to tune in now!) My other sister Regan is getting married next summer and I have been asked to be her Maid of Honor! She and I still have some time before her wedding, but we've already discussed possible color themes and a few other details. I am so excited for both of them! This summer we will be going on a Disney Cruise to Alaska and possibly stopping in Canada afterwards for a few days. Life is good right now. And my family and I have learned to enjoy the good times and not worry about when the bad times might come again. They'll show up, we know that. But worrying about them doesn't prevent them from happening, it only robs today of it's joy. So I'm going to enjoy feeling this good for as long as I can. I'll make sure to keep you all posted about my upcoming adventures! 

Hope and Love,


  1. Hi Becca, I am Stefanie, you might be surprise about how far has your story go. I am from Venezuela and I just read Within these Walls. I am really glad I did cause I have got to know about you. I have no CHD but I do care about those who have it and you have no idea how happy I am to know that you are doing so well, that you are following your goals and focusing on what's good right now. Sometimes we get caught up on things and we forget how to live, but not anymore; thank you. Congrats your sister for me, tell her that I wish her the best wedding she could possible imagine.
    We all my love, Stefanie.


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