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Old 02-20-2006, 09:31 PM   #1
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Post-Traumatic Stress

I attempted to write down what happened to me this past weekend, but it is extremely stressful, I will post a more detailed description maybe tomorrow as I have to e-mail my profs to explain my absence this week and get assignments pushed back etc.

Long story of my terrible weekend short:
I have a defibrillator implanted because I have an “at risk” heart.
It went off sporadically about 16 times (up to 6 times consecutively) between 11am and about 6pm when they finally were able to shut it off.

We will have to wait to see what is actually worse, Saturday or the post-traumatic stress that goes along with it:
- I am extremely afraid to be alone
- I feel like it could happen again RIGHT THIS SECOND. Although they tell me it is turned off and it cannot shock me, the whole “it is one in a million chance that this should have happened” comes into play to my disadvantage.
- WORST OF ALL, a post-traumatic stress symptom of this is that for up to 6 months I might experience the sensation that I am getting shocked at night when I am asleep – it happened about 5 times last night -> I am so afraid to get shocked again, and if I close my eyes I will be? Insomnia anyone?

The main point of this is to see if anyone has had any sort of experience like this/knows how to deal with post-traumatic stress…. Hopefully I will see a therapist tomorrow or the next day, maybe a psychiatrist if there is a drug that can help me.

Highly appreciated
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Last edited by DAM; 02-20-2006 at 09:35 PM.
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Old 02-20-2006, 09:42 PM   #2
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Hey derek, sorry to hear about your bad luck. I've had different health problems, none that dealt with my heart, but they were quite serious nonetheless. I suggest you do your best to convince yourself that if the doctors told you that the defibrillator is off, it will be off. Easier said than done, I agree. But know that it wont happen again, because it was fixed. Furthermore, i'll be the first to admit I know nothing about post traumatic stress, and would venture to say most people on these boards dont either, so take all advice with a grain of salt. Doctors are taking care of your health, but we can sure try to help you make it though this experience emotionally. We feel for you man.

However, if you do get insomnia, (honestly, I doubt you will), that I can help you with, I have suffered insomnia for a long time, and although my sleep patterns still dont fit norms, they work for me.

You'll make it till tomorrow, and then medical professionals will help you recover even faster. Stay strong
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Old 02-20-2006, 10:16 PM   #3
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Hi Derek,

I'm glad to hear you're okay, and that the defibrillator has been turned off. Have they planned a surgery date for a replacement? Since now you're officially at risk, and your worry should not really be the shocking sensation as much possibly having heart failure, without a defibrillator to save you. If that defibrillator is indeed defective (as it sounds like) what if you did encounter a heart failure and it didn't function properly? At least now you know it's wonky, and needs to be replaced before something really does happen. Have the doctor's performed an electrocardiogram? Is there anything abnormal that may have caused the defib to enable sporadically?

What you are experiencing is indeed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and should be understood and dealt with accordingly. There are free centres and support groups available to help you cope with this. They are extremely effective, and really should not be overlooked. I will list a few at the end of this post.

PTSD can potentially grow with worse symptoms of re-enacting the fear subconsciously (flashbacks), if this happens at unforgiving times such as while driving, at work, or even while walking down the street---the collateral consequences can be detrimental. So be careful, and be safe.

If you are scared to be alone, then by all means surround yourself with others whenever possible. Have a friend you can call during the night if you need to clear your head. If inability to sleep continues, you may have to talk to a doctor about possible sleeping aids. Do not take anything over the counter at this point, especially if you're taking heart medications.

Unfortunately the primary solution for this on-set anxiety you are experiencing... is time. As you will need time for your mind, and body to 'believe' that the defib has in fact been disabled, and that you won't experience this again. It has still been fairly recent, and you may still think that it can be turned on at any time. Your anxiety stems from lack of trust---you must develop a trust-relationship with your body and your brain that this will not happen again. It was an experience, and a scary one at that. It's okay to admit that. You are okay now, you are alive, and you are healthy. No damage has been done, and those shocking feelings will not come back randomly. Talk to others about the experience; write about it if you need to. Involve yourself with other social activities to help avoid these thoughts during the day, don't stay alone needlessly. Sleep while others are awake; maybe try napping on the living room couch for a while. Fall asleep while watching television even. Preoccupying your brain while you are awake, and while falling asleep, can be quite beneficial as you pass through this phase.

If you would like to learn more about this anxiety disorder, possibly contact others who have experienced, or are experiencing similar symptoms, feel free to contact any of the following on your own accord:

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Toronto: 416 535-8501

R. Samuel McLaughlin Addiction and Mental Health Information Centre
Toronto: 416 595-6111
Toll-free number: 1 800 463-6273
Web site:

Ontario Association of Social Workers
Toronto: 416 923-4848
Web site:

Ontario Self-Help Network (OSHNET) of the Self-Help Resource Centre
Toronto: 416 487-4355
Toll-free: 1 888 283-8806
Web site:

Be safe,
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Old 02-21-2006, 03:39 AM   #4
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I hung out with derek tonight. He seemed to be doing a better than yesterday when i talked to him. But it certainly still is nervewracking. We will be heading to the autoshow on wed if anyone else from max is going.
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Old 02-21-2006, 01:04 PM   #5
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Thanks for all that information Justin. They have scheduled surgery for a week today (tues) to replace the defib. It was misfiring - the lead that led from the actual difib to the heart developed a fracture, which caused a short circuit. But the new one they will be putting in will have a lead monitor to alert me if the lead is becoming weak again. It must be these flashbacks that I have been experiencing at night, thankfully I didn't last night and I had a solid rest. Thanks again for all that information, as you say, it will just take time.

And Graham, I am looking forward to tomorrow
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Old 02-21-2006, 06:05 PM   #6
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with this type of situation anxiety is to be expected.
Other then taking some form of prescribed narcotic(s) for anti anxiety, depression & sleep...

...talking about it is about all you can do..
meditation can help mellow you out if you're into that sort of stuff.

PTSD sucks
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Old 02-21-2006, 06:14 PM   #7
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Just rescently I saw a TV advertisement for a class action lawsuit agains the manufacturer of defibrillator which were found to be faulty.

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Old 02-22-2006, 12:23 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by JazzM
Just rescently I saw a TV advertisement for a class action lawsuit agains the manufacturer of defibrillator which were found to be faulty.

Yeah, my device was actually recalled for another reason (not the reason it mis-fired) prior. I just searched it on google, and both guidant and medtronics (which is what I have and will have a new version of as of tuesday) both have law-suits against them. It is somewhat unsettling, but they save lives as well i guess....
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