A conversation with Miyoko who lives in Japan
This story reflects one person's experience. Not everyone will experience the same results. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of your treatment options. St. Jude Medical does not provide medical services or advice as part of this Web site.
Miyoko, why are you familiar with St. Jude Medical?
I was implanted with a St. Jude Medical pacemaker on Jan. 18, 2008.
What is your diagnosis and what was the situation surrounding your diagnosis?
In order to purchase my life insurance, I took a health checkup and was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AF). I was referred to Musashino Red Cross Hospital immediately. Before that, I felt dizzy sometimes, but I did not think that it was caused by heart disease and thought that it was natural. It is frightening getting used to such an illness. I tried ablation for AF twice. Frankly speaking, I was shocked and thought “Why me?” On the other hand, I was surprised at how quickly I got treatment.
What type of doctors did you see and what were their roles?
My same doctor helped me through the diagnosis, ablation, pacemaker implantation and follow-up.
How much time elapsed between your diagnosis and when you had your pacemaker implanted?
I had AF ablation on January 8 and January 15, 2008. Just before my second ablation my doctor explained that I would be implanted with a pacemaker in the near future if my AF was not completely cured by the second ablation. A pacemaker was implanted on January 18, 2008. So one week elapsed between finding out I may need a pacemaker and the implantation.
Who helped you through this experience?
My family and my doctor helped me. I was supposed to have four days for AF ablation, but as I had AF ablation twice and pacemaker implantation surgery, I had been hospitalized for three weeks. January 18, 2008 (the date of pacemaker implantation surgery) was my grandson’s birthday. I planned to prepare for the birthday party by myself, but as I was in the hospital, my son who was a university student at that time prepared for the party instead of me. In addition, my husband, daughter and son came to the hospital every day. They helped me as well. Dr. Yamauchi also helped me. He cared about me, understood my anxiety, and answered all of my questions. He is a really reliable physician.
Did you feel like you got enough information beforehand from your doctor, or did you go in search of more? If you went looking for more, where did you find it?
Pacemaker implantation was decided during my hospitalization for AF ablation. Due to my hospitalization, I could not reach the Internet. So Dr. Yamauchi explained me well. The information provided by him was the largest. After discharge, I checked various aspects of my disease and got knowledge through the Internet.
Going into the procedure to have your pacemaker placed, what did you know about the risks?
Dr. Yamauchi explained the risks well. I knew the risks.
Did you experience any complications?
Nothing so far. I can discuss with Dr. Yamauchi everything (even a tiny thing). He follows up.
How does your pacemaker help you?
My pacemaker gives me reliability and safety to me. The pacemaker provides me with a sense of safety. I was surprised that I can “move” just after the pacemaker implantation. I can have a daily life… drive my car, play tennis, etc. It is amazing.
What surprised you during this experience?
I was surprised that so many pacemakers are implanted. As mentioned above, I can have daily life, play sports, go overseas travel, etc. I think that I made a good choice to have a pacemaker.
Do you feel confident in your pacemaker?
Yes, I feel confident because I am healthy now. In addition, I feel confident about the technology in the pacemaker and the technical support.
What is it like on an emotional level living with the device? Do you ever have stressful feelings about the pacemaker? If so, how do you manage those feelings?
At first, I felt that I was okay without a pacemaker that I decided to have a pacemaker too early. I was discouraged because I became handicapped and had operative scar, but now I feel okay. My AF has not been completely cured, but I do not feel dizzy and have cardiac arrest now, so it was good for me to decide to have a pacemaker.
Describe your interaction with your doctor throughout this experience—from the beginning until now.
I have had a relation with Dr. Yamauchi since I was referred to Musashino Red Cross Hospital in May, 2006. He has taken care of all of aspects of my disease like medication, AF ablation, pacemaker implantation, follow-up, etc.
Did you access any support groups or other resources to give you peace of mind?
Thanks to my family and Dr. Yamauchi, I am staying in a positive mind-set and have a rich daily life. I do not join in such groups.
After the procedure, what type of follow-up care did you require?
For one month after discharge, I went to the hospital to have exams for ECG, x-ray, blood, wound care, etc. Three months after discharge, my pacemaker was checked. Then I could gradually increase the exercise.
How often do you see your doctor? What happens during those appointments?
I have a regular medical consultation every three months. During the consultation, I talk about various items regarding my disease and ask questions if I have any. My doctor answers in details to help me feel confident.
What are you looking forward to?
I play tennis for pleasure. I would like to increase my exercise volume gradually so I can have a serious game with my friends. In addition, I would like to cure my AF so I don’t have to take medicine in the near future.
What would you say to someone who was considering a St. Jude Medical pacemaker?
Study the pacemaker well and ask any questions and talk about your anxiety with your physicians.