If it weren't for my defibrillator, I might not be talking to you now -- or for much of the past month. At a routine check today of the device that has been implanted in my chest for 2 1/2 years, I learned that it may very well have saved my life a few weeks ago when my heart rhythm apparently became dangerously irregular.
I felt neither the irregular heartbeat nor the action that the defibrillator took to correct the problem. The defibrillator did not need to shock me, as it was fortunately able to "pace" me out of the dangerous rhythm. Without the device, the irregular rhythm could have been fatal.
Obviously, this is good news because it means that the device worked and that having it implanted was the right decision. On the other hand, it doesn't make me feel so good that that I had a problem that required the device to work. But my electrophysiologist and nurse practitioner assured me that having one episode like this does not necessarily mean that my condition is getting worse. Let's hope they're right!
In a previous entry, I wrote about what happens at my electrophysiology appointments. There is a picture of a device similar to the one in my chest, as well as the wand that is used to download information from it. What I didn't show was the machine to which the wand is connected. At left is a photo of said machine.
You can see the computer screen more closely in the picture below. Be sure to click on it for an enlarged version (nice editing job by one Winheld's World reader). At the top of the screen is an EKG reading at the time that the photo was taken. Below are some of the settings. At a heart rate of 165 bpm (beats per minute), the device is set to monitor or pace; at 185 bpm, it will pace; and at 200 bpm, it will shock me. If you look in the white box, "Last V-Tachy episode on 09-SEP-2007" which was when the device took action. ("V-Tachy" is an abbreviation for ventricular tachycardia, a fast arrhythmia)
The machine also prints out a report with more detailed information. As I have said many times before, it's really cool technology. I just wish my life didn't depend upon it. However, I'm feeling very thankful today that I have it!