So, as I've mentioned in a few of my posts, I have a (what I understand to be) rare medical condition that affects my nervous system. I don't want to go into it too heavily but the gist of it is, I'm in pain all the time and fairly simple activity I once took for granted makes it worse. Standing, walking, lifting things or even sitting up straight for more than a few minutes causes debilitating pain. Sometimes when I'm lying down I'll experience a fairly awful attack of blinding pain.
This has been going on for about three and a half years. I tolerated it pretty well at first; I didn't want it to sideline my goals and after the first few trips to the hospital following a bad attack I learned to tolerate it. Over the past year, however, my condition has worsened substantially, and I have had to put most of my life on hold while my many doctors tried to figure out something that would relieve my pain enough that I would be able to resume some basic activity at least.
I have tried several procedures, ranging from simple steroid injections to having certain unnecessary organs removed to having the nerves along the affected area of my spine frozen. I've also tried a wide range of drugs known to provide pain relief; I'm currently on fentanyl, which I'm pretty sure is the strongest opiate available, and pregabalin, an anticonvulsant that helps with nerve pain. While these drugs help immensely in preventing the more serious attacks I used to experience and in resuming some light activity for brief periods of time, the side effects are sort of a bitch and I'm hoping to stumble on a solution that will essentially allow me to act like a normal person.
Enter the spinal cord stimulator.
My primary doctor at the pain center has decided to try implanting this device which, as I understand it, involves grafting electrical leads directly to my spine, inserting a battery pack in my gut, and giving me a remote I can use to change the sensation from one of pain to...something else. I'm not sure what.
Tomorrow is the test procedure, in which temporary leads are put in (leads and remote but no battery pack) to see if it will help. If it is successful I'll have the permanent device put in on the 23rd.
I've had major surgery before along my road dealing with this condition but nothing like this. I am pretty nervous about it, not just the surgery itself but also because I'm not sure where to go from here if it doesn't work. Anyway, I think the device itself is pretty cool; as I said in the thread title I'll be a cyborg. That has its ups and downs. The good doctor cautioned me that once I have the device I will probably never make it through airport security without a shakedown, I'll often set off store alarms and the device may "interfere with other electrical devices," whatever that means.
What is the purpose of this thread...hmmmm. I dunno. Support, mostly, but I'd also like to hear other crazy surgery stories from gaffers...post away.
Major updates in bold
God Loves Foreshadowing
The Test Unit Goes In
Test Unit Details
Implant Day Approaches
After the Implant
Two Years Later, pt. 1
Two Years Later, pt. 2
There are more as you go down but I can't get the hyperlinks to work properly anymore, the post count is all screwy for some reason...
in this thread.
Seriously, good luck and come back feeling better.
My only "major" surgery was having a rod and some pins placed in my left femur to put it back together again. I snapped it after hitting a tree while in Park City, UT. Doesn't come closet to what you'll be dealing with, though.
On an aside, I worked with fentanyl in its pure drug form in a pharmaceutical company around 4 years ago. That stuff is potentially deadly in small quantities. I hear it's 50-100 times more potent than morphine.
The only surgery story I have is when I was going to the doctor's to see this inflamation I had on my right eyelid. Basically, my vessels were constricted or something, so a minor procedure was necessary. That turned into the most excrutiating pain I've ever felt.
The doctor repeating "Oh, wow, look at all that blood" didn't help either. I got Big Boss'd for a couple of days afterwards, but hell if I'll ever do something like that again. There were some drops that felt like someone was spitting fire directly into my eye.
I hope that you come back safe.
From another site
Spinal cord stimulation results in a tingling sensation, called paresthesia, that most people report as pleasant
Best of luck for a safe and successful sugery, be sure to let us know how it goes.
And no, we have no crazy surgery stories; you've officially stole the crown.
I hope everything goes well for you!
Yeah. I said Holy Shit too.
When we are bigger in number, we shall crush and enslave the Luddites.
Until then, good luck. Hope it's effective.
It's supposed to be effective immediately; I see a couple of doctors again on Thursday to check in and see how it's going, and if it's not working they'll re-align the leads. I'll only have them in until next Monday; they'll remove them then and if it worked out the 23rd is the big day for the permanent unit.
Originally Posted by Marconelly
Holy crap, the most fascinating thread in a while. I really want to know the result of this. How soon do you think you'll be able to see if this device really can suppress/reverse the pain?
Thanks for all the well wishes, guys. It's also very encouraging to hear from other people with family members who have done this and have had success with it. I don't think I'll be able to swing laser beams but my fingers are crossed for an EMP!
edit: Oh shit a tag! Awesome :lol
Please tell me this is the next step :D
good luck dude
The battery pack is actually kind of a bitch because I have to have it recharged or replaced every few years depending on the manufacturer. I've heard stories of batteries that can be recharged without any additional surgery; hoping for one of those for obvious reasons, although I know the programmer who will be there tomorrow is from the company that produces a longer lasting battery that must be replaced. That's 7-9 years off, though.
Originally Posted by Xabora
And a battery pack... neat. :o
Drink 2 full glasses of water, then place a pinch of salt on your tongue - let it dissolve.
Don't call me crazy, but your pain could be caused by severe dehydration. Most doctors don't look for / don't understand the signs of dehydration. Be sure to drink 8+ glasses of water a day and supplement that with a couple pinches of salt - to replace what you'll be urinating away.
Let me know how you feel after a day of this.
What is your condition called?