"I was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in 1997, at the age of 36. My cardiologist decided that I should have an ICD immediately or the prospect of reaching 40 was considered remote. With such a stark message there was really very little to think about, especially as I had no idea what DCM was, nor the prognosis.
In some ways, when I look back at how the prospect of needing an ICD was thrust upon me, with no time for reflection nor very little scope for any research into DCM or ICDs, it made the decision very simple for me.
So, within a week or so of initial diagnosis I was discharged from my hospital complete with my new ‘Guardian Angel’, ready to face the world. At first I tried to carry on as normal, not really knowing what to expect nor how to react to my new life.
Within a few weeks I had my first shock from the device (which turned out to be entirely appropriate, although very painful). It happened when I was asleep: I awoke with a jolt when I felt a heavy punch like sensation in my chest. There was a few minutes quiet and then I began to feel my heart start to race again, and a second shock happened. I was taken to hospital in an ambulance and, eventually, after several shocks became stable. The ICD had certainly saved my life and it had responded correctly to the series of heart arrhythmias I had gone through.
I have taken medications to help control my arrhythmias, as well as having the ICD. I am delighted to say that I have been shock-free since 1998! Such has been my continued good health, that I had to seriously consider whether or not I wanted to have a 3rd ICD box change 3 years ago.
Having been shock-free for many years, I seriously wondered if I wanted to go through the procedure again with the subsequent infection risks and so on. However, to ensure continued peace of mind I decided to have the 3rd ICD.
So whilst I occasionally contemplate life without an ICD, this will likely always remain a pipe-dream, for quite simply I would not be here to have a pipe-dream if it were not for my ICD!"
We are grateful to Bill for allowing us to share his story.