After self-diagnosing herself with a blood clotting disorder, one nurse has revealed she was fitted with a pacemaker at the young age of 25 due to yet another heart problem.
Katie Barber, who hails from Long Island, New York, started to experience a shortness of breath just after walking up her stairs — accompanied by pain in her leg.
Doctors then confirmed Barber’s worst fears that she had deep vein thrombosis as well as a clotting disorder called Prothrombin gene mutation.
The condition, along with her recent surgery for gymnastics injuries, caused blood cots throughout her body — which made it difficult for her to move.
But while having physical therapy, Barber was having episodes of dizziness that would leave Barber unable to stand.
Scans also revealed that Barber also had an abnormal heart rate — diagnosed at junctional rhythm.
The only option left for Barber was to have a pacemaker.
Barber was a gymnast as a child and at the age of 13, she fractured the growth plate of her right hip while on the tumble track.
In 2018 a CT scan revealed a torn labrum which was caused by gradual wear and tear.
“My orthopedic surgeon felt that, over time, bone degeneration led to wear and tear injury of my right labrum.”
“In March 2018 I underwent right hip arthroscopy to repair this and for two weeks I was non-weight bearing and using crutches. I was then cleared by my surgeon to begin physical therapy.”
But a month into her recovery, she began experiencing a shortness of breath — and with her own background in nursing, Barber started to self-diagnose — believing it was a heart defect.
And sure enough, she was right.
Barber attempted quite a few medications to avoid a pacemaker due to her young age but ultimately, it became the best option.
A pacemaker is a generator which is a small device placed in a pocket under the skin and connected to the heart with either one or two thin wires.
It then sends small, painless amounts of electricity to make the heart beat.
“Initially, my doctors wanted to try adjusting medication to avoid pacemaker implantation in such a young patient, but it was my next and only option.”
“By February 5, 2019, I was ready to get my life back, so I had a Medtronic Azure pacemaker placed.”
“As a cardiac ICU nurse, I’m accustomed to seeing patients with pacemakers. Most are much older, but there are a fair share of younger patients also needing these devices.”
“It seems that people without formal medical training don’t understand the purpose of pacemakers, and more importantly, the normal lifestyle that one can give.”
Barber hopes to show how pacemakers are not just for older patients, like most think.
She said: “When I told people I was getting a pacemaker, or now when people find out I have one, they’re shocked and often tell me I’m too young for one. It gets a little frustrating to hear that.”
“I’ve noticed more energy and no episodes of fatigue or dizziness related to junctional rhythm. Overall, the device is doing its job, and I no longer have the fear of dizzy episodes.”
“Despite the hardships, which may seem unfair for someone my age, it’s important to remain positive and consider that many others have been through similar procedures and come out with a better quality of life.”
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