Friday, February 15, 2013

Update on Spinal Stimulator Trial

On Jan 31, 2013 I had a Spinal Implant Stimulator wire inserted in the epidural space to see if we could get a new spinal stimulator to help reduce my leg pain. The Dr had a difficult time inserting the wire due to the old stimulator paddle and scar tissue.

We were able to get the wire placed with some stim in the leg. I was able to "play" with the stim settings for several days to evaluate if it helped or caused more pain. The wire was removed on Feb 5th. 

We learned a few things from the trial:
  1. There is scar tissue near the paddle (how much, we don't know)
  2. The wire has to be EXACTLY mid-line in the back and at a higher level (T6 area)
  3. If the wire is even slightly left or right, the stim moves to the front & creates pain. 
Since the removal of the wire on Feb 5, my pain level has been much higher. Not sure if the scar tissue is now pressing nerves, or if the nerves were just irritated by the wire/stim. My Pain Management Dr has been out of the office this week, but one of her Associates was able to get stronger pain med. I plan on talking with my Dr this next week (Feb 18-22) as to what, if anything we can do to lower the pain level at least back to "normal". 

What have I learned during this time?
  • That God doesn't change depending on my pain level. 
  • That even though I cannot do anything (moving hurts!), I can still pray for people. 
  • That music with the right message is important to my "soul health" which is vital in tolerating the physical pain. (My Ponder Morsel for Feb 14, 2013)
  • That it's okay to say "ouch" once and awhile. I usually try to be very strong and don't want to be a "complainer". But saying "ouch" is just stating a fact. I'm not complaining.
Where do I go from here? The first step is to see if we can get the pain level back to my "normal" level (which is plenty high enough). Then I have a few options as to what to do regarding the Spinal Stimulator.
  • One option is to have another trial, which would be a "partial permanent implant" trial. That means the Dr would implant the wire/paddle and secure it in place. Part of the wire would be worn externally for a week or two to see if I'd get any relief. If the placement is correct and it works, the Dr. would disconnect the external wiring and connect new wires implanting the wires and new battery pack (IPG). If it did not work, the Dr. would remove the implant and wiring. 
  • Another option is to have the old stimulator wiring and battery pack (IPG) removed. And 'give up' on using a Spinal Stimulator Implant for pain relief. 
  • The last option is to see if the old stimulator wiring, battery pack (IPG) and paddle can be removed. Removing the paddle may not be easy due to the placement on the spinal cord and the scar tissue in that area. This would also be 'giving up' on using a Spinal Stimulator Implant for pain relief. 
How do I "feel" about all this?
  • I'm thankful for some answers regarding the Spinal Stimulator Implant. We know that for me to get any relief the wire/paddle has to be exactly mid-line and higher. 
  • I don't like the increased pain. And I have to take that into consideration as I make my decision on another implant trial. Each time I have surgery I will grow more scar tissue and that can irritate more nerves. 
  • I'm thankful for the stronger pain medications, but don't like the side-effects. 
Right now I'm in the "waiting room". And as many of you know, I'm not a very good "waiter". But I'm trying to learn that waiting is not a bad thing. As I wait, I can continue to pray about my decision and continue to research my options. 
Thank you for your prayers as I "wait". God is good all the time! And all the time God is good! 

Creating a positive day isn't easy when the pain level is extreme. But I'm learning that the day can be very positive if I keep my focus on what God is doing, and allow God to teach me and use me to help others. 

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