Nurse’s warning after pacemaker triggered severe allergic reaction despite her warning to doctors
A nurse who suffers with a severe allergy to metals has been left in pain for seven months after a pacemaker set off her condition.
Chandra Taylor, 51, has been a nurse for more than 20 years and works at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).
But in June last year Mrs Taylor, from Rackheath, was at work when her heart rate became irregular and extremely fast.
“I was admitted to A&E and from there into the cardiology ward,” she said. “I had to stay as an inpatient for eight days and according to the diagnosis my only option was to have an artificial pacemaker.”
Mrs Taylor said she told staff she had an allergy to all metals except for gold, and she was reassured this would not be a problem. But after the surgery she became seriously ill.
“The next few days following my surgery I was in lot of pain, I struggled to get out from the bed, and couldn’t sleep. My whole body felt very warm, like I had continuous flu. I became very depressed and my whole life became a dark, sad place where I wanted to kill myself. A week later my left side of the body swelled up, the pacemaker insertion site started to itch, and I had a very unpleasant tingling in my left arm and painful armpit. I then realised that I was having an allergic reaction to the metal of the pacemaker,” she said.
But when she went to back to the hospital, no one would believe it was a reaction to the metals. She said: “This happened four times, I kept telling them this is the reaction.”
Eventually, Mrs Taylor said her nursing knowledge came in handy as she suggested to her GP she could have a prescription of strong antihistamines - this controlled her symptoms, proving it was caused by an allergic reaction, and finally medics accepted she should have a gold-plated device. However seven months later she is still waiting.
“I was in tears morning and night,” she said. “Although developing an allergic reaction to a pacemaker is very rare, it can happen. And you have to suffer the consequences and the reversal takes such long time. My message is if you know you are allergic to metals tell the cardiologist before your surgery is planned.”
An NNUH spokesman said: “We’d like to apologise to Chandra for the complications she’s had following her pacemaker implant. A procedure to implant a new parylene coated pacemaker will be scheduled in the near future. We’d like to wish Chandra all the best for the future and a speedy recovery.”