Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial: Day 14

Device set on P1-6*

Day 14. The last day of the trial, my device is set to be removed between 11:45 and noon. Last night I was restless, my mind was occupied with all the events of the last two weeks. There was never a break through moment, no life changing moment when I realized this was for me. I had seen results; my sitting improved from 10-15 minutes to 45 minutes. But is that life changing? I was able to sit in less pain for longer time but it was only 45 minutes. Similarly my driving improved from 10 minutes to 25 minutes, but is that worth having a surgery for? Is it worth a 5th surgery?

When the device is out I plan of tracking the same activities of driving and sitting and comparing them. Both the doctor and the Nevro Rep have said that for many people it becomes clear as soon as the Spinal Cord Stimulator is out how much the device actually helped, and how much you miss it. Jon later referred to it as ‘the pain comes crashing back’ – that sounds encouraging. I have been on the fence about this for some time so if I get a clear sign afterwards that I do in fact ned this I would welcome it.

I arrived at the hospital and after a short bit they took me in do my vitals and then I go up the the same exam room that they adjusted my stimulator last Wednesday. To my surprise it was very informal, the doctor stopped in between procedures. He just had me stand up and he began removing the tape the held my leads to my back, and the connectors (that allowed the leads to connect to the phone cables that attach to the stimulator) that were taped to my side. The next thing I know the leads were removed, it was a completely pain free experience. I had feared that I would feel the leads being pulled out. Next he removed the sutures and again it went smoothly.

Now is where it gets interesting. There are holes in my back next to my spine were they fed the leads into me and up my spinal cord. There must be some sort glue that is used to hold the wires and prevent bleeding (I had bled a lot during the installing of the device and led to a much longer time to complete the procedure). Apparently there was a significant amount of dried blood caked onto my back and the doctor was trying to scrub it off with alcohol wipes. The next thing I know I’m dreaming and someone is rubbing my face, I open my eyes and see the doctor. I woke up on the floor. This is the first time anything like this has ever happened, I don’t remember feeling light headed or it ‘coming on.’ When I woke up I was on my right butt cheek and it hurt and my leg hurt. I don’t know if it hurt because the device was out or if I landed on it. I’ve never fainted before. It seems doubtful I fainted from the pain, I’ve been through much worse. But it’s also odd that I fainted from what was going on, again I’ve been through much worse.

I can’t help feeling vulnerable. In 3 1/2 years I have never fallen, there have been several close call but I had never fallen. I’m nervous how I will feel tomorrow and already starting to get sore. More than anything I’m in shock, I can’t believe what happened. The rest of my time with the doctor is a blur. The Nevro Rep Jon walks me out to my mom in the waiting room after some time. This spine injury and the surgeries and treatments that followed have left me more timid and anxious than I ever was before, it is unsettling to feel vulnerable.

I’m tired and sore and still processing the days events. I can’t help but analyze every thing I’m feeling; is it better or worse than with the Spinal Cord Stimulator? Do I feel worse because they removed the device and disturbed things in my back? Was it the fall? As time passes my symptoms start coming back, not in a rush but the intensity is steadily increasing. However, I am enjoying being out of the brace and free of all the wires and tape. After two weeks of not being able to shower I finally take the best shower of my life! I finally feel human again. The day ends with me tired and sore and mentally exhausted, there is no device strapped to my chest. There are no device settings to record in my journal. Tonight is the first night without the device and I can finally sleep.

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