My name is Kristen Linfante and I live in Pittsburgh, PA. I’m 52-years old, and I am a professional violist. In August 2016, I received a life-saving pacemaker.

I have struggled since birth with an illness called Dysautonomia, which basically means that my autonomic nervous system doesn’t work properly. All of my body’s automatic functions (breathing, pulse, blood pressure, digestion, etc.) are subject to serious and random mishaps. In my case, the cardiac issues were the most challenging. By age 50, my condition had severely deteriorated after having to add cancer medications that were incompatible with my heart medications. The result was disastrous. My electrophysiologist told me that I was in serious danger. Days later I received my pacemaker, and to say that my life is forever changed is a huge understatement. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would ever have the chance to experience all of the things that a pacemaker has allowed me to do.

Here are the top 7 things I discovered after getting a pacemaker:

  1. Climbing up a flight of stairs with a basket full of laundry is not fun, but it’s good exercise.
  2. Playing a concert without wondering if I might faint on stage in front of thousands of people (I fainted on stage numerous times before my pacemaker) is WAY less stressful and a lot more enjoyable.
  3. Being physically able to clean my three-story house from top to bottom is just as boring as I always imagined it would, but the end result is pretty awesome!
  4. The view from the top of Rendezvous Mountain in Jackson Hole, Wyoming is spectacular, and the satisfaction of having gotten there without passing out or having cardiac failure is pretty great, too.
  5. Going on a 70-mile bike ride through the mountains of Italy is really fun.
  6. Joining a gym and feeling my heart health get stronger and stronger because I can now push myself for better health and fitness is exciting and liberating.
  7. Giving my kids the peace of mind that their mom is healthy, reliable and strong – PRICELESS!
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