In the segment Customer Story we share the experiences and stories of our customers. This blog is about Jellis. Despite wearing an ICD, he fully enjoys his sports and his life. We asked him a few questions about his passions and how getting his device affected his life.
Jellis also has his own website called ‘The Heart Warrior Project’ where he creates a platform of support for fellow survivors. He recently wrote a blogpost about Vital Beat on his website, which you can find here.
How long have you been a device carrier?
On February 19th of 2021, when I was 28 years old, I had a cardiac arrest in my sleep. My girlfriend, who I had only just met at the time, woke up from the strange noises I was making. Thanks to her and the ambulance that arrived very quickly, I got a second life. After they took me out of the artificial coma I got my ICD.
How did receiving your device affect your life?
In the beginning I mainly had the fear of not being able to live and exercise normally anymore. Everything hurt and felt strange. Putting on a backpack, sleeping on my side, stretching my arm, I had to get used to it all. Now I’m pretty well used to the ICD and the pain is completely gone. Also thanks to the Vital Beat t-shirts, there are many possibilities when exercising.
Has much changed since you got your ICD?
Of all the changes that surviving a cardiac arrest has brought, living with an ICD is ultimately the least impactful. It is mainly the medication and the side effects, living with heart disease and the consequences on my body (such as less energy) that are tough.
In terms of work, as a therapist, not much has changed in my work situation. It has mainly given me much deeper insights about life, suffering, and death. I try to use those insights in a positive way in my work as much as possible.
Sports are fine. Climbing goes well, although there are some routes where I have to keep my arm in a different position because otherwise the ICD is in the way.
When I go swimming or to the sauna I sometimes get strange looks from people since they have not seen an ICD very often or even never. At first it was difficult when people stared at my ICD, but now I’m more accepting of those stares. I now know that the main reason people stare is because they’ve never seen it and wonder what it is and why I have this.
We are of course talking to you as a customer of Vital Beat. How did you find us?
I myself am a person who is very solution-oriented. When I was told the list of sports that I could no longer do because of the ICD, I immediately started looking for a solution. That’s how I came across the Vital Beat website.
What do you use the Vital Beat Protection for? Daily life, hobby, sport?
Mainly during sports. If I’m going to climb and a route is a bit too risky because I can fall on the ICD, I will put on the t-shirt. The shirt is also perfect for snowboarding. It allows me to perform these sports much more carefree.
What would you like to pass on to other device carriers?
Seek support from people who also have an ICD or other device or who may have had a cardiac arrest. Despite the support of people around you, it can still be quite lonely because no one else, other than the people who have it too, are going to fully understand you. There are several Facebook groups or forums where you can find other fellow sufferers. In my experience, this helped me quite a lot. Because all of this is such an emotional rollercoaster, I started The Heart Warrior Project myself where I interview fellow cardiac arrest survivors on the podcast, to offer support to people who have experienced it themselves.