The procedure that Taylor got for the implant is called a sub-pectoralis procedure. Normally, a defibrillator can be implanted subcutaneously, below the collar bone, but because of Taylor’s thin and small frame, the cardiologist recommended the sub-pectoralis procedure to prevent potential wear and tear of the overlying skin from a subcutaneous implant. Also, because of Taylor’s youth, he wanted to implant a device with a longer battery life (10-12 years vs. 5-6 years with some) to minimize the number of battery changes she would have to undergo throughout her life. A longer batter life meant having a larger device, which would have been better held in place under a muscle v. skin. With the sub-pectoralis implant, the surgeon makes an incision on the side of the chest near the armpit. A layer of the pectoral muscle is then lifted to make a pocket for the defibrillator to sit. The leads are threaded to the heart and the defibrillator is anchored to the muscle with sutures. As one can imagine, a sub-pectoralis implant makes for a more painful recovery compared to a sub-cutaneous implant, which lays just under the layer of the skin.
Friday, the day after the surgery was a rough day for Taylor. She was in pain and very uncomfortable. She ate only a few bites of food and felt nauseated for most of the day. The doctors and nurses did their best to make sure Taylor was comfortable with available medications. We even had to turn away some visitors that day because Taylor was so miserable. However, yesterday (Saturday) was a much better day. The pain was still there, but it was not as intense and tolerable. The cardiologist was able to remove the pressure dressing over the incision site; it looked good. The incision itself is about 2 inches in length. What is nice is that one cannot even tell there is even a small device under her muscle there. If one looks carefully, he/she may be able to detect a small, slight lump in the skin, compared to the other side, but other than that, it is not noticeable. Taylor was feeling so much better that we were able to get her into her wheelchair and take her outside to the nice gardens they have here at the University of Colorado Hospital. She also regained her appetite to make up for the last 2 days of hardly eating any food and ate heartily (pasta, salmon, fruit, corn, frozen yogurt, spinach salad). You can tell when Taylor is feeling better because her teasing and joking starts up again.
I would like fewer bad days, and more good days, for you, Taylor. Glad your appetite is back. Reading the list of foods on your menu made me hungry for lunch! Sending love.
Hang in there, Taylor. We’re proud of you; you are the best!
Taylor, I hope that you continue to recover quickly from this procedure. I suspect that you’ll come out of this well as you’ve dealt with all of the struggles of the last few months. Take care, Vilma
Kit, I am sorry to read about the pain Taylor was in after her surgery, but am relieved she now feels better and is eating real food.
My Dearest Taylor,
I still think about you every day. I can just imagine the discomfort and pain of healing. You are one tough cookie. I am going to send your mom a book about taking care of your mitochondria. I would like for her to read it to you because I think you will find the book has really good information. I know I have. What would you like in your next care package? I get the feeling that Aunt Pansy is feeding you very well, so maybe something besides food? Let me know…..
Sending you all my love,
Hi, Taylor, Kit, and John,
Guess we picked a bad day on Friday to come and visit Taylor, but glad yesterday (Saturday) was a lot better; and from the sounds of it, after Nancy and I left, Taylor even perked up more because according to Kit’s update, Taylor was able to go outside for a bit.
Just a side note. About a week before our visit on May 30th and 31st, we found a little injured black bird in Nancy’s yard. It seems the little guy (gal) is suffering from a bad leg and a bad wing. Perhaps it is a little like Taylor – just in need of a little time and help to recover. We hope so. So far, the little bird seems to be getting stronger – with a little help from Nancy and I in making sure it has food and water available in Nancy’s yard.
So, here’s to Nancy’s injured wild black bird and to Taylor. Get well, Dear One! Know you are loved.
Will Bessler (and Nancy Shaw)
Taylor, feel better soon! Your story is amazing, and I look forward to your updates. Warm wishes and love from Tyngsborough, MA