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Nancy's Story

Dr. Todd Silberstein, MD and Nancy Hickox in Nancy’s salon in Swanzey. Jaffrey resident Nancy Hickox was at a routine doctor’s appointment just before her 30th birthday when her doctor informed her that she had an extremely low heart rate of only 33 beats per minute.  A normal heart rate is 60 to 100 bpm. Upon further examination she and her doctor agreed they would monitor her condition with the understanding that she would one day need a pacemaker to control her heart rate.

Ten years later, that day finally arrived while Nancy was competing in a pig scramble at the Cheshire Fair.  Nancy felt lethargic and faint. For the first time her condition was compromising her quality of life. Nancy’s doctor referred her to Cardiologist Dr. Todd Silberstein at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene.  Dr. Silberstein implanted a pacemaker, a small device which uses low-energy electric pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate, under the skin near Nancy’s heart.

“From the moment I met Dr. Silberstein I was very comfortable,” said Nancy. “He was so reassuring and relatable. He told me he once had a pacemaker himself and he gave me a full explanation of how the pacemaker would work, what the surgery would be like, and what my scar would look like- it’s almost invisible. The surgery went so smoothly-- I was only in the hospital overnight.”

Nancy’s pacemaker keeps her heart rate in the range of 65 to 70 bpm. “I felt better overnight,” Nancy said. “My pacemaker has given me the confidence to do everything I want to do.” Nancy’s active lifestyle is proof of that. She spends the majority of her day on her feet working as a hair stylist at her salon in Swanzey. At home she manages her Jaffrey “friendly farm” of more than 50 animals, including emus, horses, pigs, donkeys, sheep, and chickens. To celebrate her 50th birthday, Nancy took part in a 5K obstacle course.

Technology allows Dr. Silberstein’s Cardiology team to check Nancy’s pacemaker through the phone every three months to record the status of her pacemaker and heart rate. “I’m living proof of how successful the surgery can be,” said Nancy. “I didn’t realize how much the low blood flow was impacting my life. I feel so good now that I don’t even think about having a pacemaker.  I’m especially thankful to Dr. Silberstein. He took the time to get to know me and understand my lifestyle. The care I receive at CMC/DHK lets me carry on my life exactly how I want to live.”