Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Electric Dreams - A Schwannoma Diary (#14).

I met with my neurosurgeon again earlier this week to review the series of MR scans and X-Rays that I had taken last week of my brain (I have one), my spinal cord and column and my hips. Given that a major feature of my neuropathic pain has been an intense ache in my left hip, we needed to rule out any form of orthopaedic pathology. Fortunately, both my hip joints are in excellent condition so the source of that pain can definitively be sheeted home to my damaged spinal cord.

So, the only thing left to consider was whether to proceed with the Medtronic Intellis spinal cord neurostimulator platform, which I covered in my last post.

We're going to proceed.

My neurosurgeon is confident this implanted neurostimulator will be the best option for me and that I am a good candidate for it. I'm otherwise healthy, have a reasonable amount of physical fitness, thanks to my swimming and, having reviewed and considered the technology for myself, I am mentally prepared to accept the presence of this implanted device in my body.

The biggest risks of the neurostimulator remain the possbility of the leads and paddles being dislodged or migrating, though my neurosurgeon has assured me that she will make sure they are anchored securely. I'll have to watch how I move in the first couple of weeks after the surgery to allow the healing process to further ensure the leads remain locked in place. There's the potential for infection at the wound sites, which is a consideration for any kind of surgery, so I'm not overly concerned by that. My intuition as a Nurse will ensure that I take care of myself. A lesser risk is that I won't adapt psychologically to the presence of the neurostimulator in my body. It has been reported in other patients who have eventually had their devices removed because they couldn't accept it.

As I write this, I feel dispassionate about it. The chronic neuropathic pain I've been experiencing has been so debilitating for me both physically and mentally that I will try anything if it offers a chance for me to escape it. And, being a massive geek for anything technological helps.

Part of me keeps visualizing this as the outcome of the surgery...

(image credit - issam kh).

...when the reality will be much more like this...

(image credit - Medtronic)

...which is still a radical proposition when I think about it for any length of, right now.

It's all happening next Tuesday, August 20th (it's early Thursday morning as I write this). The theatre has been booked. The implant has been ordered. The requisite medical and nursing staff will have been organized - all of them colleagues of mine, which makes this next step in my little journey a bit different.

The Nurse will become the patient once more...

Stay tuned.


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