By Brian LeBlanc
I owe you an update!
If you haven’t seen from social media already, my recent pacemaker procedure went just fine. Of course, Maureen and I had some fears and trepidation heading into it. With my Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia and long history of heart problems, even the most routine of surgeries brought so many risks.
What would dementia have to do with a heart surgery? Well, going under hard-core anesthetics could have completely wiped – or at least severely diminished – what remains of my precious memories and cognitive abilities. Thankfully, they used a twilight sedation to basically knock me into a state of semi-consciousness. The doctor apparently told me, “You’ll be able to hear us, but you won’t feel anything or remember anything.” I joked, “Doc, you know I have Alzheimer’s, right? It’s not going to matter anyways.”
I’d like to think everyone had a good laugh at that. But in all seriousness, even the twilight sedation could have left my already deteriorating mind in a dreaded fog – indefinitely.
And then … it was over. So quick! On and off, in and out, like a light. Next thing I knew, I was waking up with Maureen at my side with a little pacemaker in my chest. We were all pleasantly surprised that there were no residual “foggy” effects. We thank our lucky stars, the Lord, whomever for that!
(I’m told, however, that I was a bit flirty with a couple cute nurses. Me? Brian LeBlanc? No way! Maureen and I just laugh it off as me being silly.)
I was scheduled to stay overnight for observation, but I was able to go home THAT VERY DAY! Even though Maureen (my wonderful and beautiful life partner/care partner) would’ve been able to stay with me, I was so happy to be able to sleep that night in our own bed.
So in a nutshell, I’m home and happy and feeling well! Like that Beatles song goes, “I’m in love with her and I feel fine. (Do do-do-do do-do do-do-do).”
Up and ‘Running’ A Few Days Later
Well, not running. But walking. And, believe me, that’s a huge, HUGE, HUGE, HUGE improvement.
My heart had left me so weak. My sleeping heart rate had been dropping as low as 24 beats per minute. That’s frighteningly low. While awake, I couldn’t take a normal breath. My breathing was very, very shallow. Even going from the bedroom to the kitchen – maybe 30, 35 feet tops – was exhausting. (And I thought it was bad back when I was 285 pounds!)
As I mentioned previously, this was my fifth heart procedure. Three stents and a triple bypass in recent years had me scared how much more my ticker could take.
But I already feel great. Maureen and I have been walking a mile a day around our beautiful 55-and-older community right on Tampa Bay! There’s a little loop around the complex, and now we can join our friends and neighbors in walking around it. We jokingly call it the “Senior Olympics track.”
I’m absolutely astonished at medical science. It’s just this itty-bitty disc implanted in my chest with little wires running to my heart. Pacemakers are nothing new. They’re simple. But they’re an absolute miracle. This little thing is SO POWERFUL!
Will it cure or fix my damaged heart? Absolutely not. Will it reverse the effects of my Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia by restoring more blood flow to my brain? Nope. Maybe it’ll slow the progression. Probably not too much, if any.
Without Maureen, I would not be here today. That was true years ago. And I’m in awe every day that not only does she help me, but thousands of others as a Board-certified Patient Advocate and life-care planner.
Maureen and I are always happy to share my health experiences – living with dementia and other related/unrelated complications – and our lived experience with daily struggles and triumphs. That’s been my call to educate and help others since being diagnosed in 2014, and now with Maureen in the mix we can accomplish SO MUCH MORE!
But I don’t share for me. And we don’t share for us. We share for YOU! As a result, we’ve gathered so many supporters who’ve offered well-wishes, prayers and support before and after the procedure. Thank you – a million times!
We’d also love to thank Dr. Jeffrey Steinhoff and the wonderful staff at the HCA Florida Heart Institute in Largo, FL. They treated me (and us) so wonderfully.