I had a pretty good, relaxing Christmas this year. I spent it with my mom (a.k.a. Mommer) and Joe. We had our traditional fruite crêpes for breakfast, exchanged gifts, and spent most of the afternoon putting together a puzzle.
Around midday I heard a faint beeping sound and asked Mommer what it was. She listened and said it was probably the nearby lamp. That didn't make sense to me, but the beeping had stopped so I didn't think about it much more. Several hours later we heard it again. We turned off the lamp to make sure that wasn't it, then searched the kitchen for the source. No luck. At this point, I joked that maybe it was my pacemaker; it will beep when the battery is dying, but that's not due to happen for 4–6 more years. When I was back home that evening and heard the beeping while looking in the cupboard, I realized it really was my pacemaker.
I called the Heart Hospital and they paged a doctor. He called me back quickly and advised that it was probably the battery. He said there's a couple weeks to replace it after the alarm starts, so I should just check with my device clinic on Monday. I wasn't really worried at this point, but it was certainly interesting. I decided to share the “beeping” information on Twitter, which led to Devin suggesting I use it as a pickup line.
“My heart is beeping FOR YOU.” — Devin
“That's my hottie detector.” — me
“You're like my pacemaker, I'd die without you.” — Devin
“My heart's not the only thing getting a charge. ” — Scott
“The beeping? I thought that was you dialing my heart.” — me
“It does that every 108 minutes. It means we only have four minutes left to save the world.” — me
“Before I met you, my heart almost gave up.” — Joshua
On Monday I called the device clinic and they performed a remote check (technology!) on the device. They told me the beeping had to do with a “sensing” issue and might be an issue with the Fidelis lead on the device. They told me I should go to the Heart Hospital's emergency room and they would have a Medtronic representative there to check it out.
I was a bit more concerned at this point, but still not worrying. I didn't want anyone else to worry, either, so I didn't tell anyone other than Mommer and my roommate that I was going to the emergency room. I would let everyone know when I had more concrete information.
They confirmed that it was the Fidelis lead and that it would need to be replaced. I was familiar with this because in October of 2007 there was a recall on those leads. The lead could fracture at certain points and cause the device to defibrillate when it shouldn't. The fault rate was small, so they did not recommend replacing it at the time. Instead, they made updates to the software to lower the voltage on the lead and added precautions if the lead was starting to fracture. This is what happened in my case; the alarm started beeping (thankfully).
They wirelessly updated my device to turn off the alarm as well as the defibrillator function so I wouldn't get shocked accidentally. Technology is pretty awesome. I waited a couple hours for them to get a room ready and to find out when they were going to perform the surgery. It was about 2pm when I was admitted into a room. I still had not heard about the surgery, so I thought it would be the next day. I found out it was planned for 5pm, so I decided to let the Twitterverse know, now that I had concrete information. Hopefully no one panicked too much; I reiterated that they shouldn't. :]
The surgery itself went fine. They kept me overnight and released me Tuesday afternoon. I feel fine overall, just a bit sore in the chest and shoulder. I'm not supposed to drive for a couple weeks and have to go easy with my left arm, so I'm spending the week out at Mommer's. Hooray for home-cooked meals and setting up their wifi so I can get online from the comfort of my laptop. :]