Friday, June 24, 2022

Turning to the 'Peacemaker' for a pacemaker

by CAROL SHIRK KNAPP Contributing Writer
| June 22, 2022 1:00 AM

I've got a new word popping up next week in my health vocabulary. Pacemaker. Only I'm calling it Peacemaker. Didn't plan on this addition, but it appears I need it. For all the years my heart produced a steady beat — unnoticed really — I didn't think to zoom in with gratitude.

Twelve years ago it decided to take a little side trip. Perhaps bored with all the marching to the sinus rhythm drum. It was a severe Minnesota electrical storm. I was home alone that night. Jumpy with the flashes and booms right on top of me.

Then one flash seemed to invade the living room as I sat on the hall steps, talking on the portable phone with my husband Terry. I even exclaimed, “Oh, did you see that!” Ridiculous as he was off in Nebraska or Iowa or somewhere. I decided I'd better get off the phone.

Suddenly an hour later — the storm having passed — my heart was off to the races. That's when my atrial fibrillation began. It fluttered so fast I was left behind in the road, helpless to catch up. What do you do? Call mom, of course. Not only a nurse, but having had some experience with Afib herself.

“Try thumping your chest,” she said. “Oh no,” said the heart, “There's no slowing me down. Been repeating that boring beat for 58 years.” Still, it was comforting to have her on the line.

So began the cardiology visits. And the medicines — a bribe to keep the heart in sinus. They 'd work for awhile. Then I'd feel a hop and a skip, and the wayward thing would dash on a detour. What it got so excited about I have no idea. Hours later it skittered back into place with no apology, no explanation. I welcomed back the regular beat with a sigh of relief.

With the passing years, as aging will do, my heart has become more temperamental. Recently, it's needed a serious attitude adjustment. They call it a post-conversion pause. The heart hesitates after Afib, before taking back the beat. It just might decide not to, and quit. Hence, the pacemaker/peacemaker.

This implant can bring some peace, some steadiness, to my heart — and to my mind. Not stop the flutter, but it can stop the stop. It's strange to think of adding this device in my body. I found myself, after the cardiology call, doing what I'd done a dozen years ago — going to mom. No longer here in person, I went to her faith.

Opening her Bible at random, sure enough my eyes fell on a verse she had underlined. I read, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him.” And across the page another underline, “Behold on the mountains the feet of him who brings good tidings, who proclaims peace.”

There's that word, peace. I have the Peacemaker for the pacemaker. And the comfort of a mom who lived by faith, and left it for me in plain sight.

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