Pacemaker – A Preppers Dilemm

Today’s non-fiction writing contest entry was written bBig Bear

Prizes for this round (ends October 20th 2014 ) in our non fiction writing contest include…

Well what are you waiting for – email your entries today. But please read the rules that are listed below first…

What if you were facing a life altering decision that would affect not only your life, but that of your family and your prepping plans? A decision which, once made, could not be easily reversed and carried with it an unguaranteed outcome. I recently faced this type of decision.

Last Monday (8/25/2014) started out as just another day: Coffee, go get the paper, more coffee! Our mail and newspaper boxes are at the head of our 1.5 mile driveway (private road) so I took the truck. When I got back home my wife told me the Doctors office had just called to see if I could come in this morning at 11:30. She had told them yes so it looked like my schedule would have to be reorganized. At this point some background will be helpful.

I’m in my late 60’s and have always been strong and active. In 2009 I was diagnosed with severe congestive heart failure. Although I feel pretty good most of the time, I do have extreme shortness of breath from the slightest exertion. I went from being a very active 6’5”, 1/8th of a ton, bear of a man (aka Big Bear) to a 6’5” old Wheezer ………. I’ve never had a heart attack but my heart was barely pumping enough blood to keep me going. I have been on a bevy of drugs since the initial diagnosis and, although they help some, they were just a bandage on the real problem. In the early stages of my illness I had consulted with an Electro Physiologist whose specialty is internal pacemakers & defibrillators. At that time I was not ready to tie myself to a battery operated implanted device; plus, my cardiologist wanted to give the meds a chance to heal my heart. I must admit that there were other reasons I didn’t want to become “battery operated”.

Fast forward to July of this year. I awoke one morning and just didn’t feel good. Nothing I could put my finger on but I just felt blah. My wife is an avid hiker and this was one of the days when she had left early to begin a three day hike. The blah feeling lasted all day and I have to say it was the first time I got a little frightened ……. enough so that I called a neighbor couple to let them know what was going on. They are a part of our prepping group and aware of my medical issues. With a forced smile, and not a little bit of worry, I asked them to check in on me by phone several times as each day progressed. No answer from my end would mean something was wrong.

Three days later it was early evening when my wife got home and I told her of my problems. She got out the blood pressure cuff and took a reading. My pressure appeared to be normal but my pulse rate was 34! This reading was way too low. I had been dieting to lose some weight (did I tell you that a side effect of my regular drugs is weight gain?) and had been eating very little for a number of days. We figured that I might have an electrolyte imbalance due to the dieting so I took several of the generic electrolyte pills she uses when she’s hiking. I felt better immediately.

After an uneventful night we decided to monitor my stats closely to see if this was an isolated incident or something needing a doctor’s touch. I was feeling better but after watching my pulse rate vary widely I contacted my cardiologist for an appointment. An echocardiogram was done and showed that I had a significant number of PVC’s (Premature Ventricular Contractions). I should mention here that at no time did I have any chest pain, dizziness, or other symptoms commonly associated with a heart attack. My cardiologist referred me to a local Electro Physiologist. Of course the first appointment they had was for a month away. They told me to go to the ER if my conditions worsened ……….. Ya think?!

I continued to be active (at my normal level) with no more reoccurrences of the blahs or low heart rates. Then last week we got a call from the EP Doc’s office moving the appointment up by 15 days. I figured that someone had cancelled an appointment, died, or I was worse off than I realized! Pleased with the new schedule, I promptly rewrote the new date and time on my desk calendar. Then the call came this past Monday morning to move the appointment to 11:30. A smidgeon of worry began to creep into my mind.

Right on time at 11:30 I was ushered into the Docs presence. He was very personable and has an excellent reputation in our community ……….. I liked him right off the bat. He explained my situation and said that my heart ventricles were not beating in a synchronous pattern. This was what was causing my low Ejection Fraction (the amount of blood being moved by the heart).

This measurement is very important as a diagnostic tool: 45 – 50% is normal, below 35% is considered heart failure ……….. mine has held steady at 32% for 4 years! He told me I should double the reading and it would make more sense to a non-medical person. Wonder why they don’t just double it and use that number in the first place? A pacemaker would synchronize the pumping action of my hearts ventricles (lower chambers). He believed that I would feel better and probably regain my stamina (couldn’t pin’em down to a firm statement!). To be able to live a fuller life would be a huge improvement!

The Doc then explained why my appointments had been moved up. Yep, it was the third reason ………. I was worse off than I knew! That, plus the fact that a very new type of 4 lead combo pacemaker/defibrillator was available. This device had not yet been released to the medical community but he could get one shipped in very quickly. He had connections! It had all of the regular bells and whistles plus very advanced technology designed to correct the asynchronous pumping. He had been looking for a good candidate and I fit the bill! Thinking I had some time to decide what I wanted to do I asked him when the surgery could be scheduled?

He smiled and said “Tomorrow afternoon”. Shock and Awe! This all took place on Monday at midday. On Tuesday I had the surgery, spent the night in the hospital, had the device programmed on Wednesday morning, and was then discharged. I won’t get into the details of the device itself (the manufacturer (industry leader), model, etc.) but I have been told that I have the first device of this type put into service anywhere in the western US.

I’m going to be closely monitored and, quite frankly, I like the increased monitoring. Oh yeah, the device also has a battery life of 7 years, its own wireless transceiver and will download/upload data, is reprogrammable, and can send alarms directly to the company’s support team via a data transceiver connected to our phone line. Thus begins my life as a lab rat!

You might wonder why I went into all of the details above. My wife says it’s all too personal but I wanted to give you the background so you’d understand the title of this article “Pacemaker – A Preppers Dilemma”. I had to make a very personal major decision that would affect my life as well as that of my wife and the future of our small Prepper group.

We have discussed my health often and how it would/could affect our future. Five years ago I was very leery of getting a pacemaker or pacemaker/defibrillator due to the fact that 1. I’m a Prepper and 2. I believe there is a high possibility that a manmade EMP may occur in the near future. Since that time five years ago when I first faced the pacemaker decision the world has become a much more dangerous place. Now, I was being forced to reevaluate my options and make a decision ……… and to do so immediately!

Yep, I’m a serious enough Prepper that thoughts about the incompatibility of a pacemaker and an EMP put me into a bit of a quandary. I needed to have this device installed if I was to stay alive (my failing heart was ripe for a deadly attack). But ……….. what if I had the pacemaker implanted and then the SHTF? What were my survival odds? I figured they were very good as long as the event was something other than an EMP.

If that was the case I would have as much a chance of surviving as anyone else. If however, the event was electro-magnetic in nature ………… well, sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you! I had visions of myself seated in my favorite chair, content with having prepared to survive in a post-event world. Then, just as the SHTF, checking out as a small puff of smoke came from my chest!

I may be old and sickly but I’m not ready to go just yet. On the positive side, pacemaker technology has made tremendous advances over the last five years. Plus, my pacemaker is in an enclosed metal box ……….. a miniature ungrounded Faraday Cage. That might give it some protection from an EMP. However, the four leads running down to my heart would act like antennae just waiting for an EMP energy spike to produce something nasty! Wonder if a chain mail shirt would help? So, here I was in front of the pacemaker surgeon, forced to make a decision right then and there!

No time to go home and ruminate on the matter …….. evaluating the pros and cons in minute detail. For my wife (a nurse) the decision was easy: have the pacemaker/defibrillator implanted and pray that any future “event” is not an EMP or CME. I figured that without the device my time was short; it didn’t matter what the future would be. Without it I was on borrowed time. With the device ………. there was a high probably that I would be looking forward to a much better quality of life. I told the Doc “Let’s do it”. You know the rest.

Here it is Saturday morning and I am breathing better than I have in 5 years ………. It’s working already! I have no shortness of breath after climbing stairs, or walking a distance that used to make me breathless. I feel better all over ………. my color is better ………. my O2Sat reading is in the normal range for the first time in five years! It’s a miracle of technology that gives me renewed hope for a more normal life.

One of the things the Doc told me was that it was also possible that I wouldn’t need to continue with all of the meds I have been taking. That alone would have a significant positive financial impact. The availability of those drugs in a post-SHTF situation has always been another worry for us so his comment was warmly received. Of course my chest still hurts like hell where they inserted the hockey puck sized unit and then ran the 4 wires down to my heart (visualize taking a turkey that’s ready to be cooked, cutting a 2 “ slit in the skin, and then sticking your hand through the slit between the skin and meat ……….. move your hand around to make a pocket, insert your TV remote in the pocket, and then stitch the skin shut! OUCH! I’ve got bruises on my bruises!

I have faith and trust in all my doctors. I believe that they are competent in their professions or I wouldn’t be seeing them. I also like them as individuals. Having said that, I also know that when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail! Pulmonologists, Cardiologists, Electro Physiologists, and other specialties view their patients through glasses tinted by their own experience and training. They may refer a patient to another specialist but that doesn’t mean that the two (or more) specialists huddle together to compare notes.

Of course they can always read the entries in your medical records. If you happen to live where there is a medical community that is fully computerized you probably stand a better chance of the specialists consulting your complete records. If you don’t live in such an area, consider obtaining and maintaining a folder with copies of your records.

Carry the folder with you to each doctor visit. Update the folder after each visit. You night have to pay for the copies but the cost should be low and it’ll be worth it in the long run. MD’s recent article “Become Your Own Doctor” is superb advice. No one will be as proactive in your behalf as much as you will be. Be your own advocate!

Hopefully, none of you will need to have the type of medical procedure I just went through. But, if you do find yourself faced with a major medical decision, research the details until you thoroughly understand it all. Have a conversation with your doctor and ask questions ……….. don’t just sit there and let him or her do all the talking. Don’t hesitate to ask for a referral to get a second opinion. Know what your options are and weigh the aspects of everything. If this article helps in any way or gives hope to only one of you, then it has been worth the time to write it!

As to my decision ……….. I would do it over again in a heartbeat! (pun intended!)

Prizes for this round (ends October 20th 2014 ) in our non fiction writing contest include…

  1. First place winner will receive –  A $500 gift certificate off of any product or products at MRE Depot!
  2. Second place winner will receive –  a gift a gift certificate for $150 off of  Winchester ammo fromLuckyGunner and a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Neads.
  3. Third place winner will receive – a Survival Puck  courtesy of Innovation Industries and  20 Live Fire Sport – Emergency Fire Starters from LPC Survival.
  4. Fourth Place winner will receive –  a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of  TheSurvivalistBlog.net and copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of www.doomandbloom.net.

Comments

  1. God bless you.

    It’s not the end of the world. My father had the same problem some 15 years ago and yes, he got pretty same restrictions (EM devices out of the way and all), he went from almost dead man to a pretty strong 75 year old man.

    However, i understand the risks and worries, but let’s face it: while we all around here prep and try to survive, none of us will get out of here alive.

    So, my vision today is prep your best, live the best with your wife/family/friends, fight the good fight and then when the Maker calls us, go with a light soul.

    My best wishes for you and family.

    Victor.

    • Thank you Victor. I appreciate your good advice and positive message.

    • I had a pacemaker installed in my chest in June 2008 at age 51 due to low blood pressure which caused me to black out because my heart would stop beating. I am going on 6 years now since my operation and I am being watched every 3 months so they can catch it before the batteries die. My husband and I are strong believers in prepping and have been preparing for about a year and a half now. I am also worried about what will happen when we have to bug out and my batteries die. I just have to have faith in the father that he will keep my heart a beatin or it will be the end of my life here on earth. I have pondered this alot over the last several months and all we pacemaker folks can do is just live each day to the best of our ability and pray for the best. BUT we still need to prepare as if it going to happen and everything will be all right.

  2. I had a more sudden introduction to the pacemaker world earlier this summer via a helicopter ride from the airport to Stanford Hospital. I had not noticed the symptoms you have had over time taking only meds as I was unaware that my heart was failing. And in my case the failure itself appeared to be pretty sudden.

    But I will take my chances on an EMP versus how quickly miserable I was any day.

    As long as doctors are around to keep one going, using their advice, knowledge, talents and equipment is a good option. EMP is only one small form of SHTF, there are many others much more common…………as I was reminded of a couple of weeks ago in Napa.

    Good luck with your “new life”…………enjoy every day!

    • Glad to hear that your intro to pacemakers was successful! Have you recovered from your heart problems? I am feeling better every day and do indeed enjoy each one much more than I did a week ago!

      • My endurance isn’t what it was before all of it started. There is this question of “why” that bothers me some as I am not a traditional candidate for heart failure. Meaning I haven’t a history of anything that relates to getting it.

        But I keep myself so busy in my little world and everyday seems to be getting a bit better. And because I am more easily tired, I sleep better, so I don’t stay up nights worrying………something I am really prone to do doing.. so there are blessings in everything. Bottom line? We are NOT going to get out of this alive………so make the best of everyday in every way. Don’t ever forget to thank those around you with true gratitude for their place in your life.

  3. I think you should do everything you can do to be as healthy as possible, because if the SHTF we all need to be on top of our game. Do you know what would happen if the device quit working unexpectedly? Would it just be a return to your old heart rhythm until you get it fixed? That wouldn’t be as bad to face if you were healthier when it happened. Your story has encouraged me to get off my duff and move my rebounder downstairs and start using it again. I’ve got weight to lose, and stress is less bad on the body when one is leaner. Ok, I’m going to do it right now!

    • I asked the factory Rep before the implantation what the “fail mode” was. (He was present before, during and after the entire procedure.) What would the device do if something in it failed or wasn’t working properly. He said that it is designed so that the default mode is to revert to no pacing (essentially it would turn off). Of course that is reassuring, but I know that problems have been known to occur. When any electronic device that uses integrated circuitry, is software driven & controlled fails …… anything can happen. I figure that I’ve traded a bit of uncertainty for an increased quality of life! But, life is full of uncertainty so this latest change is not an unreasonable risk.

      Good decision Jeanne! Being healthy is the most important prepping tool any of us can have .

  4. What a blessing modern medicine can be! My 78 yr old father had a pacemaker “installed” couple of months ago, after experiencing occasional fainting spells over the past year, and he said he hasn’t “inspected the carpet” since. Thanks for sharing your stories, Big Bear and others, comforting to know you are experiencing good results as well.

  5. Technology can be a marvelous thing and I am glad that you are feeling so much better.

    My mother has a pacemaker. Hers was installed 18 years ago now and it keeps ticking away like its powered by an energizer bunny. Unfortunately it is really the only operational part of my mother. She is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s – blind, deaf, non responsive to any stimulus, wheel chair bound, incontinent, and kept alive by her pacemaker. Her pacemaker currently fires about 20 to 30 times an hour… yeah… that was an hour. She was diagnosed 15 years ago with Alzheimer’s, at the age of 58. As a retired nurse, she knew exactly what that meant and she went at that time to the cardiac center at the Toronto General Hospital and requested the removal of the pacemaker. The request was denied. So today she, and in turn we, live with the results of that decision. I believe there is now a process in the US where by paperwork signed at the time of the pacemaker’s installation can require doctors to remove it, but that is not an option here in Canada.

  6. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    Glad to hear you listened to your body and paid attention – many people feel bad, but just put it off to a bad day – and end up in the emergency room. You were smart – gold star for you my friend! :^)

    I was born with a ‘heart murmur’ that never gave me any problems until a few years ago. A leg ‘cat’ procedure told my doctor that though the pressure was ‘okay’ for now, I’m probably looking forward to a heart valve replacement (sounds like a Pep Boys advertisement, lol) in my future. In the mean time, don’t exert extremely and when it is done – take a breather. Otherwise, heart valve damage can occur.

    My main concern is that I was also diagnosed with sleep apnea. I use a CPAP machine and sleep great. When I don’t (couple of nights in the woods), man do I feel run down. I am going to have to look into a unit that can run on ‘off grid’ electricity system, otherwise I will end up extremely tired.

    Getting old sucks, but getting dead sucks worse. Work with what you have and don’t worry about what cannot be changed or undone.

    I worry about the people who played high school athletics or play ‘X’ type game activities and got hurt. They won’t feel it so much when young, but after a certain age, you begin to feel it, especially in the Fall and Winter when cold weather / high humidity comes around. Train hard – but safe.

    • Tom Arnold says:

      Your regular CPAP can run on DC. That’s what the AC adapter does – convert AC to DC. If you go to http://www.cpap.com you can find the 12V DC adapter for your model. Look at the information on your current AC adapter to see how many amps your CPAP takes so you can install the correct fuse in the DC adapter. It usually comes with 2 or 3.

      Most CPAPs usually draw only 1 or 2 amps. If you have a BiPAP they usually draw around 5 amps. If you have a heated humidifier it will add about another 7 amps.

      My wife has a BiPAP with heated humidifier and I have a basic CPAP with a combined draw of 10 amps. We got 2 150W panels tied to a Morningstar charge controller feeding 2 6V 370Ah batteries. We have a 2 outlet 12V cigarette adapter with a 15A fuse attached to the controller then the DC adapters to our machines.

      This system cost us just under $1,000. The batteries were the biggest part at $500. We wanted good quality batteries and these give us several days of autonomy (days with no sun). If you try to save money and get regular 12V marine or deep cycle batteries your going to have under 50Ah which might not even get you through one night and the life of the battery will be short since you will be discharging it so deeply every night. 6V batteries (not golf cart although they’re better than marine) in series will give you at least 180Ah depending on model. Two of the best for dollar per Amphour are VMax V 6-225 Chargetank that you can get around $250 apiece from Amazon with free shipping and Trojan L16RE-A (325Ah) or L16RE-B (370Ah) also with free shipping from Amazon. The Vmax batteries are a great value and are sealed gel maintenance free which concerns some solar people because you have little control over the condition of the batteries so the life might be on 3 – 5 years depending on your depth of discharge. The Trojans are flooded lead acid which means you DO have to maintain them by monitoring the specific gravity of the electrolyte and keep the level up with distilled water. Properly maintained they should last 8 – 12 years.

      The solar panels we got came with a Sunforce controller that we promptly put on the shelf for use as an emergency backup. It’s OK but the quality and “cleanness” of the electricity it provides isn’t the best. We replaced it with a Morningstar PS-15M for a few reasons. First, Morningstar is a top shelf, well respected manufacturer. The solar current, the batteries, and the load have separate connections so the batteries actually get charged and not just continually floated like with the Sunforce. It’s temperature regulated and if the solar current, battery charge, or load draw get too high or low it cuts them off until they return to the proper range.

      Even though we have a completely off grid home we wanted critical systems like the well pump and the CPAPs to have their own redundant systems so that if something goes wrong with the house system or the battery gets drained we can still have water and sleep with a good chance of actually waking in the morning :)

      Cpap.com is a great resource for all cpap related supplies and have a much broader variety than any of the local DME companies. They do not take insurance but provide the necessary paperwork so you can file for reimbursement.

      My, that was a long winded response. Sorry for that. Hope it helps.

  7. chris kingsbury says:

    I’m similar in age, have had the pace maker and defibrillator ever since 2003. My heart was beating too fast one day, resting it was 162 beats per minute.
    Needless to say with medication and the unit, I’ve gone through two of them, the battery is barely used but the unit is replaced every 6 years.
    If you ever hear a siren coming from inside you, it means the battery is getting.
    I was shooting a handgun at the time and it scared the you know what out of me.

    • Yeah, the Factory Rep told me that mine will beep if there’s a problem with either my heart or the device. I did find out from the Doc that my low heart rate (measured by our home BP unit and my wife (nurse) using a BP cuff and stethoscope was misleading. He told me that the PVC’s were actually heart beats that didn’t move any blood and as such they probably wouldn’t be detectable using normal methods. Thank goodness the Holter monitor showed the entire picture of what was going on. I assume that your tachycardia is under control?

  8. Owl Creek Observer says:

    Good article. I’m in my 70s and am in good health (according to my doc), except that I’ve been on CPAP therapy for sleep apnea for several years. Folks do die from apnea when they stop breathing while asleep, so I resigned myself to putting on the mask every night and learning to sleep in positions that don’t get me tangled up in the hose. But all things considered, I do sleep much better with it than without it.

    But what happens when the SHTF? If the power goes, whether by EMP or some other grid failure, the CPAP machine goes with it. I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that my odds of dying in my sleep would increase sharply. Just one more factor to consider as part of my preparations.

    • Owl Creek Observer I guess I’m a bad boy I wont use my CPAP . I just can’t get use to it.

      • Owl Creek Observer says:

        Cowboy, you’re in good company. Most folks just can’t put up with it. It was hard at first but I managed to find ways to get past the hardest parts and am fairly comfortable with it now. But in a SHTF situation, CPAP and other powered medical equipment probably wouldn’t be of any use to anybody.

      • Curley Bull says:

        Similar problem here. The first night I used it, I got the best night’s sleep I’d had in years. Same for the second and third nights, but on the fourth day my face was red where the mask goes and on the fifth day was broke out badly. I’m allergic to the material the mask is made from. Tried the tube (like the oxygen tube at the hospital only much bigger. Works great till I roll over, then one side (always the right side) comes out and blows in my eye. Bam! I’m up now. Guess I need to get back with the doc and see what else they may have now.

        Oh, if you raise the head of the bed by 6 inches it will reduce the snoring and improve the breathing a bunch. And if you can stay on your side it helps a whole bunch.
        Simular

      • Cowboy, there are dental options to be considered now days in a form of a mouthguard. Folks with no so severe apnea benefit from this type of application. See your dentist. Mine has apnea and offered until he found out that my apnea is “severe” (85 times a minute untreated). Still it is better than nothing. I have one for the nights that the power goes out.

  9. Big Bear,
    It seems that there is a common theme here. A lot of bionic old folks, myself included. I had my first ICD (Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator) installed in early 2007 due to a diagnosis of Atrial Fibrillation. Mine is primarily a defibrillator and only does pacing if the heart gets below 40 for any length of time. It supposedly had a 5 year life, but lasted for 5 years and 8 months. I had the replacement installed about 2 years ago, with a guaranteed battery life of 8 years, and a predicted life of about 11. I just had my yearly checkup about a week ago, and it currently still has 7.5 years left. In more than 7 years it has never gone off, which is good both from a heart perspective, and what I’ve read is the pain of being kicked in the chest by a horse.
    I suspect you have some limitation on lifting, primarily because they don’t want the leads to be pulled out. When you get this one replaced in the next decade, the surgery is much easier as are the limitations, since the leads are already solidly in place.
    As for EMP, it is still a coin toss whether or not the device would be affected. It depends on the distance from the discharge, the angle at which the wave hits you; any shielding that may be around you, and a host of other things. The chain mail shirt would actually offer a little protection; however, I suspect it would be hot and heavy, LOL. As for CME, the device would most likely not be affected, since the pulse from a CME is more likely to affect long antennas only (e.g., the power lines) and things connected to that antenna system (anything plugged into the wall socket at the time.
    In any case, while it does give one pause, so do the many other technologies on which we all depend. As we get older there are many things that we cannot do as well, or at all; but, as a prepper, we tend to be, believe it or not, optimistic about the future and our place in it. To do anything else is to admit defeat, and simply wait to die.

  10. How right you are about the lifting restrictions …….. nothing more than 15 pounds until my doc visit later this month. No raising my left bicep above my shoulder. I agree with your comments about an EMP and the possibility that a pacemaker may not be adversely effected. Lots of us old folks on this blog huh? By the way, I bought a little gadget that I wish I’d earlier. It’s a Finger Pulse Oximeter … got it through Amazon and it is very handy to have around. I keep it on the kitchen counter and use it several times a day just to get a baseline and see how the old heart is doing. This one (link below) measures O2 Sat, Pulse Rate and shows a small graph indicating pulse strength. Well worth the minor investment!

    Finger Pulse Oximeter SM-110 with Carry Case and Neck/Wrist Cord @ $29.95
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003TJH3LI/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    • Big Bear,
      MY ICD is a Boston Scientific device and along with the wireless monitoring device connected to the telephone, they also included both a very accurate digital scale and a BP cuff, both of which can be read and sent along with the weekly ICD device information. I’d actually been thinking about a Pulse Oximeter; but, didn’t know how inexpensive they had gotten. Yours has been added to my list.
      One additional thing that is a minor problem with these devices is the possible interference with their operation due to large EMF (Electromagnetic Field) generators; so, I’ve been advised that any arc welding (wire, MIG, TIG, or stick) should be avoided. I was never that good at welding anyway; but, it was always nice to be able to patch things together if necessary. That will now be done by someone else.

      • Same advice from my Doc/Rep regarding EMF. I’ve never welded so not being able to do that isn’t a hardship for me. Need to keep the old Weller soldering gun at a distance though! I was surprised at the low cost of the Pulse Oximeter ……. the one I mentioned is a nice unit ………. you’ll like it.

        • Big Bear,
          “the old Weller soldering gun” doesn’t emit EMF, just a magnetic field that shouldn’t be a problem at typical arms length. Just don’t hug it and pull the trigger, LOL.
          EMF is generally emitted by an arc, like soldering, or even getting too close to a spark plug wire, keeping in mind that the amount of energy drops with the square of the distance, so if you get X at 1 foot, you get 1/4 X at 2 feet, and even then it only affects the device operation at that moment.

  11. Big Bear, best wishes for a long & healthier life w/ ur pacemaker. I personally believe that an economic collapse is more likely than an emp, but who really knows? We prep the best we can, but in the end, we’ll all go to meet the Big Pacemaker in the sky.

    • Thank you so much for the good wishes! I agree with you that a massive financial collapse is likely to be the event we’re all preparing for. I worry more than a little bit that the “leaders” with their fingers on the launch buttons will decide to just let it rip to get even! Lots of craziness in the world right now …….

  12. Big Bear, I’m so proud of you and your well-balanced decision. Scary either way, right? Thanks for sharing you details and your very up attitude, which will help several of us with possible upcoming medical or life changing decisions. Gotta say it, can’t help myself – “you gotta lotta heart!”

  13. Mindyinds, your words bring a smile to my face! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. When I wrote the article I wondered if it would be well received or if folks would think I was just wasting their time. I’ve found out through the years that, for the most part, we all tend to be faced with challenges that can be overwhelming ……… there’s nothing better to help us move onward than hearing support from fellow travelers!

  14. chris kingsbury says:

    And I thought that I was the only one with one until Big Bear came out. Two of us I walked the exit at the store and set off the theft alarms.
    It turned out the older lady had hers implanted the same day as I did.
    I had the same problem as Ohio Prepper, my next unit will be MRI friendly the heart guy says. Remotely checked every three months while I’m asleep.

    • MRI friendly? Don’t know how they would do that; but, it would definitely be a good thing, although I don’t plan to need a new one until 2023-2025 if things work out as planned.

      • There are MRI friendly aneurism clips, but they are taken down to an MRI the night before implanted to make sure they move less than a certain distance to parallel.

  15. To all of the Mechanical and Electrical Pack folks…I commend you. You have a 2nd chance on life.
    Concerned about electricity? There are small handheld size batteries, charged either with electricity,
    auto battery, and/or solar portable panel. Cost often less than $100.00 – battery and solar panel. Amazon.com
    Gomadic.com, GoalZero.com and others. A very important item to add to your list of preps.

    God Bless you all

    • Lynn,
      Another way to charge batteries is with a generator/alternator tied to a stationary bicycle. Works especially well if you have slaves, err.., kids around to pedal it, LOL.
      I saw a Mother Earth News article many year ago, where an off grid family had one tied to a small battery and a TV. The kids could watch TV as long as at least one of them was willing to pedal.

  16. Not your typical prepper article but very good real world story that underlines the mindset and mentality side of the lifestyle.. I have a good friend that went through a similar story (thought you were him a fourth of the way through). As far as being pro-active with your health have you ever researched diet beyond the conventional wisdom that is pushed by the mainstream? Have you ever looked into Primal /Paleo? and/or Traditional foods It’s not a fad – trust me. I’ve read many stories like yours – many ultimately traced to a diet of carbs and other sugars and restriction of healthy natural fats and lack of essential minerals.. Doctors are awesome with their procedures and technology but they generally know zero about food. Never to late to change how you eat. BP !

  17. Curley Bull says:

    Big Bear, I’m just plum proud it all worked out and you’re gonna be ok and still around for us to communicate with. I’ve always enjoyed your input. I can understand that some changes have to be made in life style, but hey, we “adapt and overcome”.

    Again, glad all is well. Be blessed,
    Bull

  18. There are herbs that help heart failure, among them hawthorn, make a tincture…takes about a gallon/year/per person, for adequate dosing. (about 3 tsp day)Mom began taking it about 8 months ago, as a result she has reduced her dependence on medications.Hawthorn we have in the yard and tinctures are easy enough to make.. She’s working on her second one, first lasted 11 1/2 years..Maybe by the time any event occurs, you will have strengthened your heart.

    • Will look into this, thanks to you and banaras for your inputs. My goal now is to increase my stamina since five years of lousy breathing and the resultant inactivity have wiped out my muscles and strength. I’ve got a fairly complete set of exercise equipment which, combined with working on long overdue outside projects, ought to help.

      • Do isometrics at night, they increase muscle mass with minimal heart changes… to do them, I lie on bed, and I start at my feet and tense muscles to everything below knees , hold for a count of 5, slowly relax, and repeat for 5 times. work up body doing parallel sets of muscles…increase time you hold and number of reps…you can use this to strengthen any set that needs extra building, however, if you are having muscle cramps,omit them until you get your magnesium and potassium re-balanced…or it will give onset of cramps….there are many sources of magnesium and potassium, with you being a cardiac patient, it is essential that it stay balanced, both are needed for proper cardiac function…potassium is available in no-salt, and other all potassium salts, it is easy to over-do it and too high potassium is as bad as too low…I have trouble absorbing minerals, so I like to use a half strength gatorade type drink, I just cut it with ice water. but if working in high heat,I add no salt and a pinch of sugar to my water.You need to know what to use, and how your system handles the minerals and essential elements,so be sure to measure carefully with a measuring spoon any potassium salts you may add to your foods,( i like to add mine to a baked potato or tomato juice) until you have figured out what needs you have…and lab work to test after a trial period, are in order. One way to know your potassium is too high is that your mouth will feel like it is puckering, if this happens, the easiest way to correct it is to increase plain water and add a little salt to your diet for a few hours…When the potassium is up in your blood the sodium will necessarily be low, and vice versa… AND .to get your potassium up, you must reduce the sodium. Some foods that are high in potassium are kiwi, banana’ , vinegar, dill pickle juice… Hope these tip are able to help you figure out your needs.

        • I’m with you on the isometrics …….. been doin’em all my life and still do. Tried to do some pectoral isometrics the other day and found out that the pacemaker implant area is still to sensitive ……….. ouch!
          I eat a very well balanced diet most of the time and will take your comments to heart! (LOL) Thanks for taking the time to post such a comprehensive comment ……. it’s appreciated!

  19. I’ve been going through something similar as well, a heart arrhythmia, fortunately it is now well controlled with meds. Same thing, a buncha tests, Er visits, hospitalization, nice doctor, etc. The meds are expensive, though, so I think it’s wise to look for herbal or natural things that will help with any such condition you might have, in a pinch. They might not work as well as the pacemakers, etc. but they may be able to keep you going.

  20. Big Bear , good luck & good health. God bless you , & keep up the good fight.

  21. Big Bear, good luck to you. Hope you get back into better shape with little trouble and no health effect.

    I’m only 56 and in good health but you never know regardless. I just got a mailer that said on the front that TIME SENSITIVE MATERIAL ENCLOSED so I opened it and it was insurance for funeral expenses! What do they know that I don’t know/! >:-(

  22. Oldsoldat. That reminds me of when I was out on a motorcycle ride around lake Berryessa . They had a senior center across the street from a cemetery.

  23. Big Bear, good for you! I am right behind you in the pacemaker insertion. Not “bad” enough yet. I do two miles on the treadmill in an effort to strengthen my heart. Still go slow and by far am not the quickest. Still upright. Good for you for calling the neighbors. Somebody should know. The pulse ox is an excellent idea. Didn’t think to do that one.
    God Bless you buddy and enjoy feeling better! You’ll be amazed over time how much better you will feel. Prayers continue.

    • Thank you Mrs. B! My saga has been an interesting series of events for me. I originally started having breathing problems two months after we had all of the carpet in our home replaced. We had the air in the house monitored and the chemicals (aldehydes) in the air were so high that they could not be measured with the monitor they were using. We had the carpet pulled out and replaced with hardwood floors. We had the air sampled again and it was completely normal with no chemicals. My cardiologist felt my heart would heal itself over time and thus the long delay (turns out it was too long) in getting to this point. I just know I’m going to get better now …… can feel it in my bones! I’ve got a stair type treadmill and a Bow-Flex machine with all of the attachments that I’ll need to dust off. Once I get the okay from my Doc I’m going to try to get my chicken coop and pen put together before the snow flies. I’ve got several months before the cold weather gets here so I can take it slow and easy. Thanks for your comments and prayers!!

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