Young at heart
“I like your hair,” said a visitor at the hospital when I passed in a trolley on the way to the X-ray department, straight from my bed with hairstyle Beaufort #12. She recognized me from the televised procedure of my implant in the Netherlands.
“It is a pioneering operation,” said the reporter who had filmed the entire operation and interviewed my cardiologist, who said, “From now on, this new generation of implantable cardiac defibrillators will completely change the treatment of sudden cardiac arrest.”
“You are a celebrity, Jeanlejean,” said my wife who was grateful that I was so optimistic and full of confidence after the operation.
Not long before, I had refused to have an ICD for my weakened heart, of which the pump capacity is about 25% of what it should be because of a condition called cardiomyopathy. “Not for me,” I thought. “Wires through my veins into my heart just didn’t sound good to me.” I preferred sudden death above the risks of such an operation, although my family and friends thought I had gone crazy. “Thousands of people have one and nobody cares,” they said. This decision affected me for months influencing my mood and made me a bit depressed, although I tried to keep smiling.
That summer I sailed the North Sea in my Hallberg Rassy and was completely at peace with the situation. Then, the unbelievable happened. After a stormy sailing trip to England, I was called again by the hospital in Nieuwegein to discuss an alternative for my condition. A new Cameron Health S-ICD had become available that didn’t require any wires through my veins or in my heart. All that was required was one wire across my chest just under the skin attached to the S-ICD implanted on my side.
Alas, I had no objection whatsoever and was really very very happy with the opportunity. Also, being one of the first patients to receive this device since commercial release in the Netherlands, physician Lucas Boersma, who would do the implantation of the S-ICD asked, “Do you mind if the press and television cover your procedure?”
The day of the operation I had washed myself in the ice cold and crystal clear water of a little stream next to our house as I used to do every morning. Back from the hospital I took up that routine the same day, being careful of course not to get the operation wounds wet. Soon, I was able to resume swimming in a lake nearby and went sailing again. I even contemplated changing the name of my boat to Cameron but that would have asked for problems. Ship’s names must remain the same throughout their life to avoid mischief and bad luck. Thus, same ship, same name.
I shall also stick to my name as long as I live. My heart may be weaker than it should be but I am sure that faith and optimism will keep me going for a while. Not in the least by the thought that I carry with me an automatic implantable defibrillator, which may give me some extra time to live. The S-ICD feels already like a part of my body, and I have more confidence in life and in the future.
Note: Testimonials reflect individual experiences. Not every person will have the same or a similar experience. Talk to your physician about your treatment options. Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your physician.