Customer Story: Margo

In the segment Customer Story we will share the experiences and stories of our customers. This blog is about Margo, an ICD carrier with a passion for riding her bike. We asked her a few questions.

How long have you been a device carrier?

I have been the proud owner of an ICD since November 2018, after having 7 cardiac arrests out of nowhere. On examination, it appeared that I have idiopathic ventricular fibrillation. This is a genetic heart defect consisting of life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias that can result in cardiac arrest.

How did getting the device affect your life?

Before I got it I had never heard of an ICD, but of course I had no other choice. In the beginning I had to get used to it and it was a daily thought in my head. Fortunately, I have now been able to find peace with the situation.

Has much changed since you got your ICD?

Because of covid-19 I came to work from home full-time. This turned out to be a perfect situation for me, and I hope that I can continue to work from home. The company I work for has moved and that means I have to drive considerably more miles. This means extra time spent in the car and I find that a pretty scary thing. Imagine if the ICD has to do its job during a car ride…I don’t want to think about it!

In terms of daily activities, it took some getting used to at first, but luckily I’m used to it now. I no longer think about having an ICD every day. Fortunately, the device hasn’t had to intervene yet, but I find the thought quite daunting. What do you feel? What can you expect? Will you be conscious again soon?

I also founded a Facebook group with fellow carriers of the DPP6-gen. Here we exchange information and tips and we can support each other. To stay fit, I try to walk every day during my lunch break. I use the ‘detours app’, or in Dutch: Ommetje (Click here to view the app).

How did you find Vital Beat?

I had already read some positive reports about the Vital Beat shirt and shield and a fellow carrier drew my attention to the convenience of the shirt with protection. I use my protective shirt for motorcycle riding. After the rehabilitation process, I was able to pick up my life again.
Riding a motorcycle is one of the things that goes with it. The fear was there anyway, and because of that fear I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I used to. That is why I went looking for a protection that protects my ICD in the event of a fall.

What would you like to pass on to other device carriers?

Seize the day. Enjoy everything. It could be over before you know it!

Customer Story: Thomas

In the segment Customer Story we will share the experiences and stories of our customers. Our second blog is about Thomas, a 60-year old Paramedic from Sweden. He received his pacemaker in January of 2021.

How long have you had a pacemaker?

I got my pacemaker the 14th of January, so it it’s a little over two months now.

Was it something that you expected to happen?

I live quite an active life and I train almost daily. I have had some medical issues that increased over time. I got palpitations first, from October/November when I was active, like chest pressure and being short of breath. But I thought it was natural from becoming older – I’m 60 years old now. In the beginning of January however, it was really bad so I took an ECG on myself at work. It turned out I had some bad arrhythmias, so I went to the emergency room and two days later I got my pacemaker. Since it all happened very fast, I didn’t know that I had that problem and that I would need a pacemaker.

Did getting the device affect your life?

I feel much better now. My medical issues, like the chest pressure and the episodes of shortness of breath, have disappeared. Therefore I feel more alert and fit now. On the operation table when they connected the leads to the pacemaker, I felt the change immediately. 

What’s the feeling that you get when they attach the battery to you?

Well, I had palpitations for many years. It became natural for me and didn’t think of it. When I looked at my ECG it was episodes of 50% blocked heart beats.
I was running the day before, and when my body needed 150 beats per minute uphill, it got only 75. That explains the chest pressure. This immediately disappeared when they connected the pacemaker.

Did you feel any restrictions when you got your pacemaker?

They gave me restrictions that during the first to two weeks up to two months, I wasn’t allowed to raise my left arm above my shoulder. But I also got some stretching exercises to do from day one to prevent a frozen shoulder. The first days I was a little bit sore at the scar, but that only lasted for two or three days. I took some normal painkillers and soon I could do the stretching exercises again. On day three I took a slow run on the treadmill. And after a week I started with light weight exercises. After two weeks I was back at my work as a paramedic. I have had a very easy journey.

There are definitely people that have had a much worse experience and it has taken them like half a year or so to recover from it.
It was an easy journey for me, but we are all the different and it’s important to listen to your body. Some have other medical issues which impacts their rehabilitation.

Since you’re a paramedic, do you drive the ambulance?

We, me and my co-worker, alternate. With one patient I am driving, the next I take care of.

When you drive, does the seatbelt in any way affect your pacemaker site?

It feels bad, and that was a concern I had. Because pressure on the pacemaker area is very uncomfortable and the seatbelt can be painful. We have quite heavy backpacks with medical equipment as well. And first I bought a padded goalie shirt, the kind ice hockey goalies have. It didn’t work because it was clumsy and very warm. And then I found out about Vital Beat and bought the shirt from you. It is doing its job very well. I am wearing my Vital Beat protection when I work so I can wear the heavy backpacks and it makes me feel safer from accidental impact.

What products do you have, and are those enough for you to feel more comfortable?

At first I wore the sports shield too, currently I am just using the standard shield. I have no issues with the pacemaker area right now, because of wearing Vital Beat when I work or when I do activities. I like the outdoor life, being in beautiful scenery and wilderness –doing different activities there. Mostly running, trail-running with backpack. But also hiking, snowshoes, skiing and kayaking. To be prepared for my job I do some weight training too. So, when there is something that creates pressure on the pacemaker area or there can be an accidental impact,I have Vital Beat protection.

How did you find Vital Beat?

There’s a Facebook group called the Pacemaker Support Group, so I found out about Vital Beat and your product there. I told them about my ice hockey game goalkeeper protection and there was a woman in the U.S. that told me about Vital Beat. I then Googled about you and found it. It’s like an extra skin with protection. It’s very good and I’m very satisfied with it.

Have you told other people about us?

Yes, I’ve told other pacemaker wearers which I met through my work. I’ve also told the pacemaker technicians and they hadn’t heard about Vital Beat. They became very interested.

Is there any advice you would like to give to other device carriers?

The pacemaker gives most of us a better life, therefore it is a very good friend. The pacemaker in itself doesn’t have a negative influence on your life. You can live your life as before receiving a device. If you don’t have any other medical issues, you can live a fully active lifestyle with a pacemaker. I was concerned in the beginning about how should protect the implant area. As a pacemaker carrier you don’t have to think about the sensitivity of the area, the discomfort from pressure or accidental impact because there are good products on the market. Vital Beat is one of them.

Do you have any feedback for us about the product or anything?

As I said, I’m very satisfied with your product. It does its work very well. I can live like before I got my pacemaker, and the pacemaker has helped me with my medical issues. I have a better cardio performance now, because the pacemaker fixed the bad heart rhythm.

Customer Story 1: Gerda

Customer Story: Gerda

Customer story: Gerda

In the segment Customer Story we will share the experiences and stories of our customers. This first blog is about Gerda, a 58-year old working mom of two grown up daughters and carrier of an CRT-D. Nowadays she is committed to helping other women who also had a heart attack. We asked her a few questions.

How long have you been a device carrier?

I have had my CRT-D since January 2019 after having a heart attack in 2013 and another one in 2017.

In what way did receiving the CRT-D have an influence on your life?

The moment my cardiologist told me that due to changed standards I was eligible for an ICD, back in fall 2018, I was already focused on AED’s (automated external defibrillators) and knew exactly where to find them. The knowledge that I could have a arrhythmia that could possibly make my heart stop really hit me hard.

The night before receiving my ICD I was told that a third wire would be added to ensure the damaged part of my heart would move correctly in time with the other side. I really had no time to think about the news and let it sink in.

Customer story Gerda

Did much change now that you have the CRT-D?

The positive thing about my CRT-D is of course that my heart rhythm and heart function have improved. It did take some awareness that I have something in my body that supports my heart. I sometimes joke around with the term ‘bionic woman’ since I literally can’t just ‘drop dead’. Mortality in general really was a theme that I become more conscious of.

In the beginning I of course couldn’t drive my car and I was limited in my movements due to the healing of the wound. Now I’m still a bit limited since the device is located on my left chest muscle.

We are speaking to you as you are a customer of Vital Beat. How did you find us?

I met Hilke (owner of Vital Beat) at a meeting where we were both present as entrepreneurs. When she told me about what Vital Beat did I was very intrigued. I love hiking, but wearing a backpack was quite uncomfortable because of my device. I had made some make-shift solutions in the past, for example with a small towel, but nothing really worked. The materials Vital Beat uses are a way better solution.

What would you like to say to other device carriers?

If you are anxious to do what you would normally love to do, Vital Beat offers a really nice solution. Mainly regarding safety for example for mountain bikers and cyclists when they fall, but also regarding comfort like in my case with a backpack. This will enable you to do what you always liked to do and you won’t have to let your device limit you.

Gerda turned her experiences into a career. Through her coaching company she helps women who just like her suffered from a heart attack. Want to read more or get in contact with Gerda? Check out https://www.jebentmeerdanwatjehebt.nl/ (Dutch spoken only)