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.