Lucky for me, is that I think a got the mild-variety stroke, and I got a punch in the nose from the Big Bad Wolf in the form of a stroke, so I'm lucky in that respect. There were people in the hospital who were not so lucky...including my roomate, who was paralyzed on the entire right side, and he could not walk, and was either in bed...or in a wheelchair. I saw other people in the hospital who were even worse than my room mate.
I talk about what happened to me, in an article I wrote while I was in the hospital, and that piece can be read at the following link;
STROKE; A BLESSING IN DISGUISE?
In 2006, a defibrullulator/pacemker was implanted in me, and I asked the doctor, what the chances of contamination from the metal/plastic was. He told me it was less than 1%. I had a weakened heart at the time, and we proceeded with the surgery.
In January, 2012, I met with my new cardiologist, and we talked about removing the pacemaker later in the year, but that I would have to get all the documentation surrounding the surgery in 2006.
Knowing that since January, 2012, I was a fool to procrastinate it all away, and not even get started on the project, as I didn't have an appointment with Dr. Downey until November of 2012. And, then I got hit with the stroke on May 23, 2012, and now I'm really in the soup! I didn't know, after the stroke, if I could write an intelligent letter to anyone...much less to a cardioloigist.
Now, more than ever, I wanted the device removed, so I had to force myself to write the letter, and get those forms and medical documentation to my cardiologist. This is the toughest letter I've had to write in my life, but I had to get the wheels turning, if I was to have this device removed. I was worried about the 'cognative' part of the stroke...the mental part...the creative side of the brain, etc. Could this part of the brain be damaged, when I had the stroke? I would soon find out.
The first draft of the letter went well, but the next day, I threw it away...I didn't like it. I had to start over again, as I left out important information. I started on the second draft, and I liked it much better. I was trying to limit the letter to two pages or so. After the second re-write, that's about what I had...about two full pages. I didn't want to go much longer than this.
On the third re-write, I started to hone in on the facts of the matter, and the letter was looking better than I expected. I polished and moved a few paragraphs around on the page, etc. This piece was looking better than expected, as I worried that my brain had been fried during the stroke.
Now, on the fourth re-write, I felt that I was getting close to what I wanted. If I were going to get this pace-maker/defibrillulator out of my body, I would only have one chance to do it. The final letter was a little over two pages, and that's what I wanted...brievity...and everything to the point. The following is how the letter turned out...
TO: Dr. Icenogle; (chief cardiologist);
(Heart Station) VA Medical Center,
1501 San Pedro S.E. 5th FL Bldg. #46
Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87108
FROM; Jerry Aragon
SUBJECT: Request for information/documentation surrounding the implantation of a defibrillator for Jerry Aragon on June 8, 2006. DOB; SS# At the time, Dr. Icenogle, was the Director of the Heart Station, but I don't know who performed the surgery.
I realize, that, in order to remove this device from my body, that everything has to be feasible...and all the ducks have to be in a row...and all the proper medical information/documentation has to be obtained and has to be in order...the before; the middle; and the end and aftermath of the surgery, so that proper decisions can be made to lessen the risks involved, etc.
BRIEF SUMMARY: In the first week of June 2006, I was experiencing breathing problems, and I drove myself to the VA Medical Center, because I lived only about three miles away at the time. The following day was different, as I was again experiencing breathing problems, only this time more severe, and I felt I should not drive, so I called 911, and was taken to the VA Medical Center. I was again examined, and I was told that I had fluids in my lungs and around the heart area, and I was admitted to the hospital right away.
I was a patient at the VA Medical Center for about a week, and this is the time the device was implanted. And, since that time, I have been taking the medication Fursomide 40mg. (water pill) and Potassium CLON-Con since the surgery was performed.
A couple of months later, in September of 2006, the device went off, and I had to go back to the VA to get things corrected.
I left the VA Medical Center in 2007, and enrolled in the Presbyterian Healthcare System in the private sector. I 2009, the device went off again, and I was told at Presbyterian that the device was not working properly, and the lead leading into the heart was defective, and surgery would have to be done to correct the problem.
The surgery was done in August, 2009, and the problem was corrected, and the device was not removed. Whatever happened in 2009 during the surgery, could have an effect of the life of the battery, which I was told had a shelf life of six years. If the device was replaces in 2009, the battery would have about three years remaining. After the surgery, the device did not feel like the old device...which had a square-feeling to it. The new device has a smooth and rounded-feeling to it.
The two main reasons, why I'm asking Dr. Downey, my cardiologist to remove the defibrillator are as follows;
1) On May 23, 2012, I suffered a stroke, and as of the date of this letter, I am still recovering, and I will have to recover for several months. I would be a FOOL if I didn't ask Dr. Downey, if the device didn't have anything to do with the stroke, or the medications associated with the treatment, etc. There may have been a clot that was formed as the blood circulated
On the day I had the stroke, I was taken (by ambulance). to the Heart Institute, where I would spend the next 8 days. After the eight days, I was transferred to the Lovelace Rehab Center across the street, to continue getting treatment for the next three weeks, and I was discharged on June 19, 2012.
Since the implantation of the device, I have always been concerned about contamination of the blood, by the metal and plastic that make up the device. I was told by Dr. Sen, of Presbyterian Healthcare, that the risk of blood contamination was less than 1%. THAT 1% could be me!
Anyway, when I was taken to the Heart Institute (by ambulance), the ambulance attendants, told my that the device was not working, and they tried to get it to work...manually...and, they hit me about four times hard, and nearly killed me! If the device is NOT working...OR...if the device is turned off for whatever reasons...I want the device to be taken out. Because 2012, marks the 6th anniversary of the battery, surgery is going to be done anyway, and I talked to Dr. Downey in January, 2012 about removing the device. Having this stroke, even makes me want to remove the device even more.
CAUSE OF STROKE UNKNOWN: After talking with two doctors and a couple of PAs, I never got a definitive answer as to the cause of the stroke. I was told that the stroke began someplace in the back of the skull, between the ears, and worked its way down.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE; I've had high-blood pressure problems for over 40 years, and I've done what I have to to eliminate or lessen the problem. I check my blood pressure about twice a week on my home kit. During the month I was in the hospital, I did not see any red flags raised as to the blood pressure. Everything seemed to be normal, with the blood pressure a little high as one might expect.
CHOLESTROL; I got my last blood test on June 26, 2012, and a copy attached. The numbers in the cholestrol are good...with the good and the bad.
DIABETES; I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2008, and since that time, I have gone through all the finger-pricking to gather data. While in the hospital for over a month, blood was checked everyday, and there were never any red flags raised about the glucose, etc. My three blood tests in 2011, showed my A1C to be 5.9; 5.9; and 6.1. My primary doctor at the time was Dr. Jan Kovach, and she remarked, "Excellent diabetes control." I hope that I have control of the disease. (knock on wood)
LIFESTYLE; I quit smoking in 1970...and in over 40 years, I have done without tobacco of any kind. I have not eaten salt in over 30 years (blood pressure); and I have never taken illegal drugs; I lost 40 pounds in 2001 and I exercise regularly and the cholestrol shows good numbers (see enclosure) As of the date of this letter, I weigh 170 pounds;
$64,000 Question; WHAT IF THE DEVICE CAUSED THE STROKE?...or at least had a hand in causing the stroke? If this is true ...all the more reason to take out the device. Therefore, I am asking the VA Mecical Center to provide the necessary medical forms relating to the plantation of the device, to Dr. Ross Downey, to see if it is feasible to remove the device.
I had the stroke in May, 2012, and the next stroke could be fatal. The phone number and address of Dr. Downey are provided in this letter.
And finally, if there are any papers to be signed, I can be reached at the following number; 842-5310; PO Box 81161, Albuquerque, N.M. 87198.
Thanks for your time, and I appreciate your cooperation.
END OF LETTER;
Article title; $64,000 Question; Can A PaceMaker Cause a Stroke?
MY TWO CENTS (opinions); I think this issue is a highly technical matter, and most doctors will struggle with it. All I can expect are educated guesses!
I worry everyday, that the Big Bad Wolf (stroke) will be back to punch me in the nose...AGAIN!
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