I Really Love Technology

September 29, 2010

Cardiology, Faith, Technology

This isn’t the first time you will hear me say that “I Really Love Technology.”  But it’s true.  In March of this year, I got a chance to remember how technology has saved my life.  I had my first defibrillator replaced at that time.  I got a shiny new Medtronic Virtuoso II unit.  And things were fine for over six months.

And then I got a new bike.  OK, it isn’t the bike’s fault.  But it always seems that I find out more about these units when I’m cycling.  And here is where the story begins…

Eight years ago, I was riding my bike when I learned that there was a problem with the lead that was inserted into my left ventricle.  That problem resulted in a total of eight (8) unnecessary shocks.  And the resolution was a surgery to have the leads replaced.

Last week, I was riding home from work when my new ICD proved its existence by nudging me with a 300V shock.  OK, it wasn’t a nudge.  It was more like a really big th-wack in the middle of my chest.  But it only happened once.  After making it home, I sent the digital data via modem to my cardiologist.  And the EP tech told me I had experienced another inappropriate shock due to t-wave over-sensing by the ICD.

If you take a look at the EKG strip (above), you will see what happened.  My heart was beating at about 130 bpm.  But my device thought that my heart was beating at over 200 bpm.  So in the first row, you will see where the device tried to pace my heart back down to a “normal” rhythm.  And in the second row, you see what happens when your heart get a 300V shock.

So I went to the cardiologist today.  The EP tech and a kindly Medtronic tech sat with me and re-programmed my ICD.  It was no big deal.  It took about five minutes of real work and about fifteen minutes of discussing everything with the overly curious patient.  The device was reprogrammed to ensure that my t-wave won’t be mis-identified as a QRS-wave.  I then asked for a printout of the strip so I could post it for your review.

Two dozen years ago, I would have died – on numerous occasions.  A dozen years ago, I might have gotten an ICD; but I wouldn’t have been able to maintain my active lifestyle.  Now I have a next-generation device.  And this technology will someday save my life.  It is quite cool.  It can communicate wirelessly.  It can be reprogrammed while I’m awake and sitting in a chair wearing my normal clothes.  And I can be part of the entire process.  Couple that with the computer technology in my house and I can share part of the experience with you.

But despite all of the advances found in this device, I still live with the product of man’s ever-increasing knowledge.  It’s not perfect.  But it does save lives.  And with each generation, we know more and more.  But as I think about the Creator who designed and built us, I realize just how far we’ve come – and just how far we have to go to approach the healing power that is in His hands.  I really like my doctor.  But I really love my Creator, my Savior and my Lord.

Last week, I got a tangible reminder of how fragile and how temporary my current life is.  Tomorrow, I am on my bike again.  And I will be reminded of what a blessing every day truly is.

I want to thank each and every one of you for the prayers you’ve raised before our Lord.  He has heard them.  And He has answered your prayers through technology, through doctors and through His unparalleled mercy and grace.

-Roo

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