“My mother, bless her ninety-year-old heart, is slowing down. The things that made her happiest — getting to church, visiting friends, taking walks, and wandering the aisles in the grocery store —are increasingly difficult. She worries that her lack of energy will soon make every activity impossible.
It is 2005 and she is living alone in Chicago, about ninety miles from where my wife and I live. My father died suddenly the year before, and she is settling into the life of a widow. She has always been very healthy and upbeat, but she’s become more and more fatigued. ‘What do you think it is?’ she asks. ‘Do you think it is my heart?’
‘Let’s find out.’ We arrange an appointment with her internist. Sure enough, her heart rate is uncharacteristically slow and does not speed up when she walks or moves about.
‘I believe you need a pacemaker,’ her doctor confirms. ‘I’ll arrange a visit with a cardiologist.’
This gives my mother something new to worry about. ‘I’m too old for any procedures, don’t you think?’ she says. ‘Do you think I could tolerate having a pacemaker?'”
Bruce Campbell is an otolaryngologist who blogs at Reflections in a Head Mirror. He is the author of A Fullness of Uncertain Significance: Stories of Surgery, Clarity, & Grace.
He shares his story and discusses his KevinMD article, “Mom’s new pacemaker: a story.”
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