Same As Usual

Today I’d to go to the hospital so my pacemaker could get its half-yearly check-up.

As usual I stood up from my desk mid-morning and announced where I was going, and as usual the management said that’s fine, take your time, hope it all goes well. When you’ve a history of blacking out and toppling over spectacularly and messily in your office, and when a device has then been found to stop that happening then most companies will be pretty keen to let you go to whatever check-ups are necessary to ensure that the device keeps devicing.

As usual I turned up, was hooked up, and a pretty young woman played with my heart, turning the pacemaker up and down, raising and lowering my heartbeat to see what will happen. You don’t even have to take your top off, you lie on the bed fully clothed, shoes and all, and to be honest it’s hard not to feel a bit like Frankenstein’s monster.

A little machine chattered out a ribbon of paper with data on it (surely it’s called “ticker tape”, if it isn’t it should be) and she informed me that all was well, that once again it’s actually very rarely that it has to turn on.

As usual she noted that I have opted to have its thrice daily battery check turned off, as usual she asked was I sure, and as usual I said yes, it used to hurt each time it turned on and used to make all the muscles around it go into spasm for about an hour afterwards.

And that was that. The whole thing took less than eight minutes.

I used to hear about pacemakers, associating them always with overweight people in their mid-70s, and how they were a sign of heart problems, and about how they meant you couldn’t go through the X-ray machine at airports, and how they could explode at altitude (that’s ok, I’m only five foot five) and I used to imagine that life with one must be a real drag.

And now I can sit on the bus wearing mine, start four paragraphs with “as usual” and reflect on how routine it has all become for me.

It’s amazing how we all adjust to stuff.


9 thoughts on “Same As Usual

  1. Tinman Post author

    You’re just being mean, Tilly ….

    … and welcome, Sanstorm (have a look at Till’s blog, she’s quite nice really).

  2. merinz

    My daughter, at age 23, acquired a pacemaker. She is now 33, and its taken her this long to finally accept that she had no choice and had not prematurely joined the ‘oldies’ brigade! It was replaced last year with an updated model and she has never looked back, health wise.

  3. laughykate

    I have a friend whose in his early 40s with a pacemaker and he’s not overweight…. or in his early seventies. He reckons it took ages to get used to the noise at night, though. He also has massive respect for the guys he shared a hospital ward with, in their seventies, who had been through open heart surgery quite a number of times and didn’t think it was a big deal any more.

    I suppose what I am trying to say is, by the time you’re in you’re seventies that pacemaker will be so much part of the furniture that you’d hate to give it back.

  4. Tinman Post author

    i always try to remind myself, merinz (welcome, by the way) and LK, that there are people younger than me who have them. Indeed Tinson1’s friend has one, and he’s 19.
    I’m glad your daughter is well, merinz. and you’re right about the difference it makes health-wise. I remember when I was getting mine the doctor seemed thrilled. “There’s so much about the heart we don’t know,” she told me, but a case like yours is simple. We give you a pacemaker, there will be no more blackouts.”
    She was right, and things are so much better now.


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