Batteries not included

So, I went for my pacemaker check yesterday and ended up staying in hospital overnight!

It happened (vaguely) like this:

I went to the pacing clinic as usual and a nice man started my pacing check, and within a couple of minutes asked me, ‘how have you been feeling recently?’ ‘Very tired’, I said. He replied that he wasn’t surprised because my pacemaker had very nearly run out of battery and had set itself into a different mode [power saving?] which was pacing my heart really slowly. Apparently, pacemaker batteries don’t run out like normal batteries. He drew me a diagram:

Batteries diagram
I drew this diagram

Normally, when the battery is getting flatter and it’s got to about 15% charge it goes into the mode where it paces slowly and you have about three months in which to get the battery changed before it completely conks out. No one is really sure when mine started seriously running down, but I (and the medics) think the tiredness I’ve been experiencing in the last few weeks is more than likely due to the faulty* battery rather than other factors (although they may have contributed).

*Apparently, pacemaker batteries don’t normally run out so soon. I’ve had my pacemaker since 2009, and I was told it would last 8-10 years, and it’s only lasted five and a half. The medics were rather shocked that this had happened and they’re going to send my old pacemaker to the manufacturer for analysis. I don’t know whether it is just because it had been working extra hard for me, but they seemed to think it was a mechanical fault rather than anything else. Which is a bit worrying really! As several people have said over the last couple of days, it’s a good job I went for the pacing check when I did!

Anyway, pacing technician was kind but firm and said he thought I should have my battery (just the box part of the pacemaker, not the leads) replaced as soon as possible, ideally today (yesterday). Needless to say I was a bit taken aback at this – not the day I had in mind at all! Fortunately, my mum was already looking after Babymouse and staying until Thursday anyway, so at least that was one thing I didn’t have to worry about too much. The pacing technician phoned the cardiologists and one of them came down to the pacing clinic to discuss options with me. There weren’t really many options! He had already booked me a bed on one of the wards, so I decided to just go with and get it done the same day.

Once I was on the ward I went through the usual joys of pre-operation stuff – showering in the sheep dip, as I like to call it (antibacterial soap) and changing into the fetching gown which I can never do up on my own. I now also had wet hair and no hairbrush or comb! Yay. I know this was the least of my worries really but my hair is untameable at the best of times, plus, there’s the psychological factors to consider, which I will (if I get round to it) consider in another post. Anyway, I phoned Mr C, who made his way over (his boss is very decent about things like this) and my mum, who was her usual calm self. Then I (then we) waited.

We had to wait until about 4.30 pm (having got to the ward at about 11.15 am) because I’d had an early lunch/late breakfast at about 10.30 am (not having had any proper breakfast) and there has to be six hours without any food or drink before you can have the procedure. 4.30 arrived eventually and I was wheeled down to the catheter lab where they performed the procedure. I was awake for it – they just use local anaesthetic, although I did have a tiny bit of sedation because I got a bit upset – and it was not a particularly nice experience, although I’ve had worse! It was rather odd and uncomfortable to feel someone rummaging around in the side of your chest trying to find a pacemaker. We could see where it was on the x-ray but because it had been in for a few years it was quite embedded and there was a lot of scar tissue around it. Once the surgeon had removed the old pacemaker box it seemed to be quite a fast process to put the new one in and sew me up,

After being unplugged from everything (lots of monitors) I was wheeled back to the ward to see Mr C, have a very welcome cup of tea and eat some sandwiches. All was OK overnight, apart from my pressure dressing falling off and having to be re-stuck (with the medical equivalent of duct tape), so I was allowed home late this morning.

I have to go back for another pacing check in six weeks. Hopefully the next check will be more routine! All the NHS people who looked after me were lovely and made what could have been a very stressful experience relatively all right.

Crochet Class Cowl

Here is the crochet cowl I was making:

crochet cowl crochet cowl 2

It’s not the neatest piece of crochet ever, but it was good to practice stitches with. The pattern is Crochet Class Cowl by Jennifer Dickerson. I decided to add the edging to make it look a bit neater, but I’m not sure this worked! I think if I did it again I would have changed the number of stitches when the type of stitch changed to make the edge less wavy and untidy, but the untidiness probably has less to do with the pattern and more to do with my lack of experience in crochet!

Tired

This is a blog post about how tired I’m feeling. There, now you know you can either (a) stop reading because you can tell it’s not going to be very interesting or (b) carry on at your own peril – perhaps it will send you to sleep, which might be good if you’re tired as well.

Despite work actually being somewhat of a rest I am feeling very tired at the moment. I’m not sure whether this is because Babymouse is getting heavier and therefore harder to carry and push round (and up the many hills in Medway) in her pushchair or because I’m now working and looking after a baby (although of course not at the same time and my mum and Mr C do lots of the looking after baby bit) or whether the heart is just not very happy at the moment.

Lulu's first day out

A tired cat. Picture by hehadan on Flickr

I think perhaps it’s all of those things. I’ve changed my medication from the ACE-inhibitor to something with an even longer name, an angiotensin II antagonist, also known as an angiotensin II receptor blocker. We (the doctor and I) decided to change it as the ACE-inhibitor was (we think) the cause of an irritating tickley cough I’d had since November. The good news is, the cough seems to have gone, but the bad news is that we have to go through the whole rigmarole of starting on a low dose, having blood tests and gradually increasing the dose if all is OK…which is fine apart from I’m now on a low dose of medication again and I suspect it’s not doing very much – at least it doesn’t feel like it is. I don’t like it. I’m having trouble pushing trolleys round at work – something I used to not have much problem with, but the worst things are not being able to carry Babymouse for long and it is a massive struggle getting back up the hill with the pushchair when we’ve been into town. I have to stop lots of times! It’s frustrating and makes me feel a bit sad for some reason.

Let us hope the medication makes a positive difference once the dose is increased. I’m having my pacemaker checked on Monday. I’m (weirdly) slightly looking forward to this – time out on my own and time to read!

In other news, I finished my first proper crocheted item. Pictures may follow.

February frolics

Yesterday, I found myself saying

It’s so relaxing being back at work…

I can’t believe I actually said that, but I guess it’s all relative, and, compared to wrangling a very active baby all day, going to work and cataloguing books is relaxing!

In other news, we had lots of celebrations this month. Babymouse turned one year old! I never thought I’d say this either, but the last year has gone really quickly. She also had her dedication service at church which was a  lovely time with friends and family.

Sleeping baby
The excitement was just too much… (Photo courtesy of my father-in-law)

As well as these events, it was my birthday, and my mother- and father-in-law’s birthdays…and I went back to work. I’m not sure that counts as a ‘frolic’ though, despite it being a welcome change.

Sorry this isn’t a very detailed post – I just don’t have very much time to write these days!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Lanterns, Chinatown, Singapore
Lanterns, Chinatown, Singapore

Get back to work!

After over a year on mainly maternity leave it was my first day back at work on Thursday. It was…odd. In some ways, I didn’t feel like I’d been away, and in other ways I felt all at sea. I’d forgotten things I thought I’d remember and remembered random things that didn’t really help with anything. My colleagues were all very lovely (as usual) – someone even bought me a large bar of Oreo Dairy Milk to help me through my first day – needless to say it was consumed quite quickly!

It was a bit strange not having Babymouse around, although I must say it was nice to have time to read on the train without interruption, and to actually have a lunch break!

Babymouse is being looked after by my mum, who is travelling lots of miles every week to come and stay with us for the days that I work. Both baby and grandma seem to be coping OK, although it has only been 1.5 days. Babymouse was a bit overexcited when I got home on Thursday, especially as Mr C wasn’t there either and she had a late tea – she was very hyperactive and didn’t want to go to sleep at all! She finally went to sleep at about 10.45 pm, which is very late for her. My mum managed to get her to sleep by making her (Babymouse’s) toy TARDIS (yes, we are starting her young!) make the TARDIS noise and flash its light. I have no idea why this worked, but I’m glad it did!

I’ve just finished reading The Taxidermist’s Daughter, by Kate Mosse, which was quite heavy for a commuting book, but a good page-turner, if a little “eugh!” in places.

January with a vengeance

I can’t really remember what we did in the first three weeks of January…tried to get back into our routines after the Christmas break I suppose. It was actually quite nice to go back to the playgroups and see everyone again. We met up with some friends one Sunday afternoon, which was really good. I went to the doctors a few times to try and sort out my medication (Ramipril). We are still trying to increase the dose, so I’m now taking 5mg per day with no side effects as yet, although I am a bit worried that my blood pressure is going to get too low as it was already quite low last time I had it taken when I was only taking 2.5mg/day. We shall see, I have to go back and have a blood test (to make sure kidney/liver function is OK) and a blood pressure test in 2 weeks. Also, I forgot to say before, I had a bit of a mental bad patch in so I’m now taken double the dose of anti-depressants as well, and things have been better since then apart from the odd blip last week, which was probably due to…

NOROVIRUS WEEK OF DOOM!

We think Babymouse got the virus from somewhere. She was the first to be ill, followed by me, then Mr C. My lovely mum came to help out as we were all ill, and then she got sick as well! Poor mum! Fortunately, the virus seemed to weaken each time it attacked one of us, so my mum was less sick than everyone else, but poor Babymouse was the most badly affected. She actually got over the virus fairly quickly, but it has left her with a (hopefully temporary) intolerance to lactose, so she can’t take her usual milk and has been prescribed some lactose free ‘milk’ by the GP. Hopefully this will help her bowel to recover and we can gradually re-introduce her usual milk in the next few days. Poor B was very unlike herself last week – she is normally quite active and chirpy, but she was very lethargic and unhappy – basically she was either sleeping, eating or crying. I suppose it’s not really surprising because she was obviously not well and hadn’t been able to eat properly and she’s also teething again (it seems almost continuous) with her molars, which apparently are some of the worst teeth to have to deal with, teething wise. It was quite horrible to see her so unhappy and not know what to do. We do have the luxury of having relations who are doctors, so we did call them, as well as the health visitors, and both were very helpful. I just hope we can reintroduce her milk without any further problems. At least she is eating a lot more ‘proper’ food now and isn’t entirely dependent on milk for sustenance, but it is still the major part of her diet.

This week is my last full week of maternity leave – back to work next Thursday! It’s come round very quickly since we passed the Christmas barrier. I found out last week that they are not replacing the other half of my post, at least in the short term (which I fear means never), so that will be interesting…