Tony’s in the Hospital – UPDATED – With Tony’s New Pacemaker

Posted on Tue 12/18/2018 by


UPDATED – Sunday Morning – 23rd December 2018

It was all so sudden.

Six weeks ago, during my usual six kilometre morning walk, when only one kilometre from home on the return leg, I fainted, and that was the first time in my life I have fainted. Up until that point in time, there were no previous indicators of any problem. I landed on the back of my hand, tearing it in nine places, one of which required three stitches. At the time, I was also given a full blood work up, a head CatScan to look at the minor head knock I received, and an ECG to look at my Heart function. Every second day I went back there to have my hand dressing changed, and on the second visit, the GP who originally saw me noted the slightest anomaly with my ECG, and recommended it to the heart specialist, Doctor Chen, and that appointment was on the Tuesday morning just gone, at 10.30AM. I walked there as it was only 10 minutes away. During the consult, he mentioned that I had an odd anomaly he hadn’t seen many times before in a patient of his, so he wanted me to undertake a stress test, where he hooked me up to an ECG machine and had me walk on a walking machine at pace and then introduced hills by raising the platform of the ‘walker’. After seven minutes of really hard work, he stopped the machine, mentioned something to the nurse, and took me back to his room. He explained that the anomaly showed up even more on the stress test, and that he was going to send me for a pacemaker insert. I thought more tests, and more consults and then wait for an appointment to be admitted, but he told me that he was sending me straight away, and that the ambulance to take me to hospital was waiting out the front, what he told the nurse to do, get the ambulance. I didn’t even get to go back home to pick anything up, or to tell Barbara,my good lady wife, who I knew would panic.

They took me to the hospital, the wrong one to start with, and I waited there for three hours for another ambulance to take me to the hospital where they would do the procedure, so I finally arrived at that hospital at around 7PM on that same Tuesday.

There I was told that in the very near future they would be inserting the Pacemaker.

In the interim, they gave me some literature, and explained what caused all this, and it related right back to the instantaneous fainting attack when I fell 6 weeks earlier.

That was called ….. Syncope, and I also had what is referred to as BradyCardia, the slowing of the Heart rhythm. It all relates to the sending of electrical signals from the top of the Heart (Atrium) to the bottom of the Heart (Ventricle) on the one side (same on the other side) but mine was on the right side. Those small electrical impulse are sent via what is called a bundle branch of cells in a pathway down that side from the top to the bottom. Sometimes that signal slows or even stops. It’s not a Heart attack, which is the stoppage of the heart completely, just a failure of that minor electrical impulse to be sent at the correct time via that bundle branch.

It’s something that is intermittent, and is usually age related, the aging of those cells over your life.

The Heart has its own pacemaker, the Sinus Node, and that is what sets the rate of those signals, and the ECG just copies those signals, so that’s how they know what is happening. The Heart Specialist and the people in the hospital explained it all to me as well as what was in the literature.

That’s what caused the original fainting I had six weeks ago, the failure of that signal to reach the bottom of the heart, so no blood to the brain, so I fainted. As soon as I hit the ground, it all came back to normal, so that’s why I got straight back up again, none the wiser, as I had just fainted, presumably. That is the first single ironclad evidence of Syncope, that faint.

It was explained to me that in virtually every case there are no previous symptoms. It just happens that very first time. It’s not a heart attack at all, just that failure of the signal to reach the Ventricle via that pathway. I had absolutely no idea at all it was anything untoward until the Specialist told me on that Tuesday morning. Now, since that first faint, and over the next six weeks leading up to the Specialist consult, there have been other symptoms, occasional light headedness and occasional dizziness upon rising. I put them down to probably a minor concussion from the head knock when I fainted, but they are the actual symptoms of Syncope and BradyCardia.

So, now, Tuesday night I was admitted, and hooked up permanently to an ECG monitor, via a small wearable transmitter around the size of a calculator with five leads attached to those points on your upper body.

At no stage ever have I had even the slightest chest pain, and everyone who then comes and stands in front of you asks if you have any chest pain. I have had none at all.

It was originally thought I might be fitted in for the insert on Thursday, but they have had a rush on them this year, evidently more than in previous years at this time of year, so close to Christmas. They finally fitted me in after Lunch on the Friday.

It was done in a large room, more like a warehouse than anything, only pristine and clean and full of equipment,  with just the one platform in the middle where I lay down. They do it all under a local anaesthetic. It takes about twenty minutes to set everything up, thirty five minutes for the insertion, and ten minutes wind down, tests etc, and then they wheel you back to the ward. I was chatting with the team, around five of them all the time during the procedure, just asking general questions about what was happening. The one who does the actual insert of the Pacemaker, that’s all he does, place the two wires in place down veins to the correct position, one at the top of the Heart and the second at the bottom of the Heart, and then the implant just under the skin. The second one does the cutting and sewing back up, One guy sits at a console and directs the procedure via a camera, and he then provides the original turning on of the device and then some preliminary signal tests. Afterwards they have a live action and video recorded X Ray which instantly checks if everything is in the right place, and after it was all over, they showed me the recording of that X Ray.

The whole process is just amazing really.

I was a little sore, just around the site of the implant, but other than that, no pain at all.

It was explained to me that the device acts more as a detector than anything else. It detects all those electrical signals. They just allow the Heart’s own pacemaker, The Sinus Node to keep doing what it always does. The insert just detects those electrical signals, and if on occasion, the signal from the top to the bottom via that bundle branch fails to get through, or takes longer than normal to get through, then the inserted pacemaker kicks in and instantaneously supplies that tiny electrical impulse to the lower Ventricle. I have to go back in 8 weeks for some further tests as an outpatient, and all going well, the battery in the Pacemaker will last for anything up to ten years.

I do not have to change anything in my lifestyle at all. The doctor heading up the Team who does these pacemaker operations said that they would actually prefer me to keep exercising, in my case walking, to get my heart rate up, as the Pacemaker will ‘cover’ me even then, Just no walking at ‘Olympic’ pace he said, and to wait perhaps ten days before I started walking again.

The operation was carried out on the Friday at around 3 to 4 PM, and I was discharged on Saturday morning at 9AM, only 18 hours after the start of the procedure. They did some tests at 7AM on the Saturday morning, just the Pacemaker technician doing some diagnostics and signal checks, then a visit from The Team leading doctor, an X Ray to see it was all in the right place, and then I was discharged.

So, from walking in to the Heart Specialist to have that appointment, to arriving home after having it all done, 96 hours all up.

My good lady wife, Barbara was a bit concerned, well naturally, more like panicking really, but luckily our Son and his wife live in the next apartment along from us, so they were a great help. Barbara admittedly got her procedures caught up at the start, mentioning Bypass and not the Pacemaker, but I can understand that.

Anyway, It’s all done now.

I still have some minor soreness at the site of the implant, and next Friday, my local Doctor removes the pressure bandage over the site, and it was all done before Christmas.


Morning (USA-EST) Update

More accurate info available. Copy of a portion of Tony’s sister’s email to me.

“Hi again Ed
I have been able to contact Tony. He has given me clarity on his situation.
he is in hospital to have a pacemaker fitted.  It was a sudden thing that the specialist doctor picked up at the consultation and thought it prudent to have that done ASAP.  He sends his best to you…
Cheers Deb”    

Yes, it was so sudden that he didn’t even have time to email me. All I and his family had was second hand info. The  speed of his admittance to the hospital may have made those closely involved assume it was a more serious operation.

Apparently his Doctor was rightfully concerned because, without warning, he passed out twice that I know of; once when doing his daily 4 – 5 kilometer walk.  

So it’s serious enough to warrant quick action by his Doctor. I applaud this Doctor for his discovering the problem.        

I’m sorry for the previous misinformation.

I don’t want us to become a “CNN” (or an Oz “ABC”) Fake news blog.   🙂  



Tony’s in the Hospital for bypass surgery.

Operation was sometime this morning (Oz time, 12/19/2018).

Please keep him in prayer 🙏 for a successful operation and a speedy recovery.


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