The story of the Pacemaker….

….and a little explanation of my complete absence from the blogging scene during the last few weeks.


This is Millie, my Mum

In the middle of September, I popped over to the UK to spend a couple of weeks with my elderly mother. She is 88 years old, with many a health complaint associated with that territory, but had been doing fine (so I thought) for quite a while. During the late evening of the third day of my visit, Mum started to feel rather unwell. The pain in her chest and down her left arm was not a good sign so I called the NHS helpline. Two paramedics in an ambulance arrived so fast that they beat my sister to the front door and she only lives two hundred yards up the road. Now that’s what you call service!

After swiftly checking her out, the paramedics decided Mum and her atrial fibrillation should go to hospital. Off we went in the ambulance and spent the next few hours in A & E with Mum hooked up to a beeping machine and flirting with the male nurses. She was feeling much better by then and wanted to go home but the doctors had other ideas. She was admitted for further observation which was just as well, as another little blip occurred the next day. Eventually, it was decided that Mum should be fitted with a pacemaker.


One of the few photos of a pacemaker I could find!

This little gadget, as far as I understand it, is designed to keep a slow heart to the correct number of beats per minute. Beta blockers are also taken to stop the heart beating too fast. Somewhere in between is the “sweet spot” that should keep my mother out of the hospital and on an even keel. The procedure is performed under a local anaesthetic. They want you awake to follow instructions and tell them how you’re feeling. My poor Mum would have felt a lot better if the surgeon hadn’t been giving her a full running commentary. Some things you just don’t need to know!

One day later, Mum was released into my care and allowed to go home. No such luck for me, of course! Mum needed a lot of looking after. The left arm was not to be used until the stitches came out, ten days later. She was also lacking in the energy department, understandably. So I missed my original flight home at the beginning of October.

In the meantime, having realised that living alone was no longer a sensible option, my mother and my sister decided to put both their homes up for sale and look for a larger property to share. Almost two weeks into a steady recovery, and after I had tempted fate by rebooking my flight for the end of October, Mum experienced a relapse due to emotional stress. Signing the contract with the estate agent to sell the house she had lived in for thirty four years proved a little too much for the old ticker.

Three-thirty in the morning, paramedics, ambulance, A & E, beeping machines, Gordon Hopkins Ward, deja vu. Evidently, pacemakers are not a general panacea for ills of the heart. Angina attacks and atrial fibrillation can still occur if one is unduly stressed, physically or mentally. A few days later, Mum was home again and promising to “chill out” and “let it all wash over her”. One of those nifty personal alarm buttons was procured and I was told that I must go home now because my husband would be missing me!

And so, after my usual period of zombification, I am writing this blog post! I did a bit of research on line and found this Wikipedia article if you are at all interested in the history and development of the artificial pacemaker.


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12 Responses to The story of the Pacemaker….

  1. Becky says:

    Oh, Tina! I’m so glad your Mum is doing well and on the road to recovery. It really is amazing the things that can be done. My D/H has a defibrillator in case his heart stops with a pacemaker included. Apparently, if the defibrillator ever needs to work the heart will then need the pacemaker for a few minutes to regulate the beat!

    I hope everything goes smooth and easy with the sales and the move and that you get some much needed rest. :-}

    Loved the picture of your Mum btw. She looks like such a sweetheart.

    • Tina says:

      Hi, Becky! I didn’t know your DH had one. It is amazing the number of people that have these wonderful bits of technology in their bodies!

      I’ll tell my Mum what you said about her picture!

  2. Goodness Tina, what a time you’ve all had of it! I hope your mum can start a nice, relaxed recovery in her new home with your sister.

    I love that photo of your mum, she looks so lovely and cheery. :-)

    • Tina says:

      Thanks, Helen! That photo was taken on the family bench down by the Estuary in January this year. The bench has plaques on it for my Dad and my nephew, Jonathan. It was a lovely shot of my Mum!

  3. Peggy True says:

    She’s a cutie, Tina! I think she ‘waited’ for you before having her attack. So good you were there! And happy she’s doing much better and you’re back home, too:)

    • You’d have kicked yourself had you not stayed, Tina, so I’m really glad you were there. Your mother–oh I just want to pinch her cheeks! I truly hope she’s kept her promise to chill-out, before everyone else gives HER a kick! LOL God Bless you and your family, you are all in my prayers :) Em/ExquisiteStudios

      • Tina says:

        Thanks, Em! I have spoken to Mum several times since I got home and she appears to be in good spirits and keeping her promise!

    • Tina says:

      Thank you, Peggy! I think you might have something there with the “waiting”. Last year’s gall stones episode also happened when I was in residence.

  4. So thrilled you’re home at last, and your mum and sis will be able to bunk up together! Scary for the both of you, I’m sure, but hoping she does MUCH better with a regularly beating ticker pump!

    Hugs & Hope,
    rachel of OddModicum

  5. So glad you mum is recovering and wishing her and your sister and easy move!

    • Tina says:

      Thanks, Sonja! Hopefully, things are happening pretty fast. My sister has already accepted an offer on her house!

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