Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Olympic Pacemaker

I have had a pacemaker fitted for about the last 8 years or so. I participated in a research program by having a pacemaker fitted that would record extensive data that was downloaded every three months. Most modern pacemakers keep data for a period of a few weeks or months. At the time that I was to be fitted with the pacemaker and because I was a radio amateur. I asked my consultant if there was a device available that was not effected by electromagnetic fields. He consulted with a manufacture and a particular type of pacing device was prescribed.

Being that I also worked in a research area and huge magnetic fields were used to cold electroplate metal onto plastic materials for instance. I can say “hand on heart” that I have never had a problem. I eventually dropped out of the research program when my pacemaker was overtaken by the usual upgrade and operational improvements in pacing devices. What was cutting edge at the time - is now discounted or incorporated into the later devices.

I passed through border agency scanners many times for the first few years - they never did pick up the pacemaker. The later more modern detectors do pick up the pacemaker. So I have gone back to being submitted to the hand search. I had my annual MOT a few weeks ago and my battery was at 63% so I have been scheduled into the replacement list - in about another six years time! I want to get a large set of pacemaker batteries for my boat battery bank!

Magnetic fields and cellphones are not a problem for the normal operation of the more modern pacing devices. I have never noticed any unusual behaviour from my pacemaker over the years with one exception. I went up in a cable car whilst on holiday in Madeira. On emerging from the boarding shed (which was quite dark) and into daylight - over a steep drop - my sphincter and heart became acutely aware of the glass floor in the car!! The pacemaker paced me for the first twenty seconds or so!

I'm on a two wire version and my problem is that my heart rate is naturally quite slow. When I first noticed problems and was admitted to hospital. The staff changed the ECG and octopus wires several times because they thought the machine was not working. While I was being monitored at the nursing station - I would be laid in bed wide awake reading - even as the crash team would come in like Rambo through the door. However, what mystified them more than anything else was when - at a one of my slower heart rates - my blood pressure would be close to normal.

When it comes down to Pacemakers - your mileage may vary - There are thousands of urban legends still doing the rounds. Like - exploding/fire/running your heart backwards/causing static shocks and wind-up/clockwork/radio controlled pacemakers. One of the best tales is the headless corpse with a pacemaker that suddenly choose to sit up on the slab during an autopsy. The best story recounted was an April fool wheeze on radio about a solar powered pacemaker that was being recalled by the manufacturer for urgent repairs.

All in all the Pacemaker has been and still is - a miracle - for many people who would otherwise not be here today. The technology has improved over many years and development will continue to provide a much improved lifestyle for those less fortunate who have suffered from some serious health problems.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Please put your name to your comment. Comments without a name may automatically be treated as spam and might not be included.

If you do not wish your comment to be published say so in your comment. If you have a tip or sensitive information you’d prefer to share anonymously, you may do so. I will delete the comment after reading.