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Trial Scheduled

chileroxcchilerox Posts: 69
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Spinal Cord Stimulation
Hi all, I've been reading the board for a while now and have found a lot of great info, which I have to thank you for.

I just got my trial date scheduled, I have my pre-op Monday (the 8th of Feb) and then the trial on the 16th. My mom will be flying out to drive me around and help out, since I'm having it all done 200 miles from home.

I live with my little brother, and he's going to have to have knee surgery a few days after my post-op. He's a single dad to a hyper 4 year old, so I'm really glad our mom will be here for a few weeks.

I'm getting pretty nervous about things and trying not to. Really hoping this works, too, since nothing else has.


  • That's great your Mom is coming in to help out. I wish you all the best with your SCS trial and hope you make it work for you. I'm limited to not ever having an SCS and still interested to hear how it works for you. Many other members here have an SCS so keep us posted and for sure others will help you out if you need any support. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Nothing to be nervous about. You will be asleep except when they wake you to ask if they have the stimulation in the right place, then they put you out again.
    Best of luck to you. I do hope you have a successful trial. Please keep us updated.

    Cheers :H
    Patsy W
  • Hi Chile

    Welcome to Spine Health. That sounds fantastic that your mom is coming to help you and your brother out. You are very lucky to have her there for the both of you.

    The trial is a very simple procedure and it is common for it to be done using only a local anesthetic at the lead insertion site. The lead or leads are inserted via a small incision and stitched to the skin and then the connector block is taped to your back usually with a large amount of tegaderm.

    I would say that the most difficult thing about my trial was making sure I didn't snag the external wiring or drop the external unit. I put it on a belt and then wore clothing that covered it so I had less chance of snagging it or dropping it.

    Don't be afraid to work with the rep during your trial, if you feel the stimulation field is not targeting your pain well. It's your trial, make the best of it.

  • I wanted to wish you well on your trial! I also echo C that you shouldn't be afraid to contact your rep during the trial for adjustments, even on the weekend. That is their job. Also, if you feel like you need an extra day or so to decide if the stimulator is right for you once you have it in go ahead and ask your Dr. to extend the trial.

    The sensation will be kind of strange at first but you will get used to it quickly.
  • Good luck with your trial.
    I say this every time I post, but the experience and procedure is different for everyone. Pat mentioned being completely under. I had an IV, but never even felt the sensation of being "drugged". In fact, I felt a lot of pain while my doctor worked on getting the leads placed in the right location! But it was worth it. My procedure was done in my pain management doctor's office so there was no pre-op for the trial. Everything was taped into place very carefully. I mean I had a LOT of tape on my back. Mine was cervical so everything was higher up on my back. I had no discomfort lying on my back or side. They did instruct me not to sleep on my stomach.
    Glad you have someone coming to drive you. I was not allowed to drive for 2 days, but did drive my stinky self on the 3rd day to meet with my Boston Scientific rep to make some adjustments. My trial lasted 4 days (Tuesday through Friday).
    I'll be watching for an update. I hope things go well for you.
  • My pain doctor is really good, and I'm glad I have someone I trust doing this. That's why I drive 4 hours each way to see him every month!

    The nerves are finally settling, and y'all are a lot of the reason why. I will let you know how they do mine, I think they said they were going to put me under and then wake me up at the right time.

    I'm really glad my mom is coming, because I can't imagine me and my brother trying to handle my niece, me right after the trial and him while on crutches.

    I'm really hoping this works, seeing as how the 108 injections I've had (plus 2 in my knees! lol) haven't. The fentanyl patches were great for the first couple of weeks, but they aren't helping much anymore.

    They are going to inject that lubricating stuff in my knees, too - I'm hoping that works. My grandma had it done a few years ago and I can't remember whether it worked for her or not.

    I just want to be able to sleep again (sleeping on my side hurts my hips, sleeping on my back makes both arms fall asleep, sleeping on my stomach hurts my neck - the next thing they have to figure out) and take my dog for a walk. If I can do that... well, life will be a heck of a lot better.

    Thanks again!
  • Like everyone else has said, the experiences are so different across the board.

    I didn't have an IV. I wasn't given any sedation, of any type. I didn't have antibiotics during my trial, which seems to be another major variation across PM's - some run IV antibiotics the day of the trial, some put patients on oral antibiotics for 10 days during/after the trial.

    I always get a little chuckle when I hear of the PM's that blow the trial experience up into this major surgical intervention, with the full hospital OR setup, IV's, serious anesthesia/sedation, cardiac/respiratory monitors, and the whole 9 yards. In rare circumstances, when other illnesses and health concerns exist, that kind of thing is necessary, but it's certainly not the norm.

    My PM didn't even make me get completely undressed for the procedure. All I had to do was take my shirt off and slide my pants down just to my hips. (He originally said I could just pull my shirt up, but it landed in a very uncomfortable place right under my boobs, so it came off :lol:" alt=":lol:" height="20" /> )

    I had a local anesthetic injected at the insertion site, and that was all the medication involved in the procedure. It took about 30 minutes to get everything in place. Once everything was finished, my PM told me to go home, take a shot at living the life I wanted to have, and call if I needed him for anything.

    It would have been very easy to go home, wrap myself in bubble wrap, sit around for the whole trial, and have others attend to my every whim and want. My Mom actually wanted me to come to her house for the trial, because she was worried about my dogs jumping and my unwillingness to not take care of certain things around my own house. But, that's not the life I wanted the SCS to give me, so it didn't make sense to live that way during my trial. We compromised by having my Mom come to my house during the trial, but even that was difficult because she'd try to beat me to certain tasks to keep me from "risking" anything. I don't hold that against her, though - it was just that motherly "protect your baby" instinct kicking in. ;)

    I think I tried almost everything I wanted to do, at least once, just so I'd know how the stimulator responded to the pain created by various activities. I figured if the trial leads moved because of something I did, my doctor could just move 'em back - it's not like having the permanent leads move, where serious surgical intervention is required to fix them.

    Even though my dogs are very well trained, I decided to keep my wires underneath my clothing during my trial, just for a bit of extra safety. Instead of using the belt, I added some tape to the extension wire to bring it around my side, to the front. Then, I tucked the wires and the box in a heavy, tight sports bra, with the external stimulator up on my chest, right above my right breast. With a t-shirt over it, the box wasn't even noticeable. With Medtronic, they tell you that the remote has to be touching the external stimulator box, but it does actually work through clothing. I slept with it that way too, so that I didn't have to worry about pulling the wires in my sleep. That actually worked out really well for me. :)
  • I've had 108 injections done so far, so I have a pretty good idea how my PM works. Go in, get an IV, no I haven't eaten, no I haven't changed my meds, yes my pain is really a (fill in the number between 6 and 9), get taken back, say how's it going, lay on my stomach, have my gown opened and underpants pulled down (LOL), get complemented on my tattoos by one of the techs helping (every single time! 9 and counting), get the blood pressure cuff put on, go under mid-sentence, come to in recovery.

    I'll be a little surprised if the trial doesn't go pretty much the same way, aside from the waking up 'is that the spot?' part.

    I'm going to be in Austin for the trial, which will be good because my brother's dog is a pain in the ass, and so is my niece. Fortunately I'll be away from both of them. My friend that we are staying with has a dog too, but she's so well trained it's incredible.

    They did tell me when they set up the trial that it's supposed to take about an hour and a half. Not counting prep time before I get taken back.

    I won't be too surprised if they do some of the extra stuff, because I have asthma/hypoglycemia/etc on top of everything else. We'll just have to see.

    I am really lucky that my mom is coming, she handles things pretty well when I'm recovering from surgery. (knee surgery in '02, brain surgery in '05, wrist surgery in '06, knee surgery in '07, nothing in '08 or '09 - is that possible? I thought I had something in '08 - etc etc)

    My brother, well I'm not sure how he would handle things. Plus there is the fact that he is completely freaking out over his knee surgery, because he's never even been in the hospital. I have a feeling he'd be much like my dad, who is useless after such things.

    I don't know how much of an issue it will be or if it will even be one, but I already told my friend that I will sleep downstairs, because I don't want to have to go up and down them after going through the trial.

    I have appointments the 17th and the 18th, then we are driving to Houston the 21st to meet up with friends, and then I am coming back to Austin the 22nd to meet up with friends there. And then my post-op the 23rd. I already told my mom I'm going to take her to my favorite restaurant in town and we'll probably go to the yarn shop too as we're both knitters and she's never been in Austin before as far as I know. So, I'll get to get out of the house some. I'll have to drive some too, as that's one of my biggest problems - if this doesn't work I will have to look into getting an adapted vehicle so that I don't have to use my feet.

    My biggest worry right now is where the incisions are going to be made for the leads/implant, because my tattoos are all on my back/hip where everyone is saying their incisions are. And I don't really want to get it on the other side, because I want the room to be able to tattoo there as I work on finishing my backpiece.

    As long as that's the worst thing I'm worrying about, I should be good.

    (The crazy thing is, when I had my brain surgery they wheeled me into the OR and my neurosurgeon took one look at me and said, "She isn't sedated!!!" They looked at him and told him I didn't want to be. And I never worried one bit about that surgery. I don't know why this one is different!)
  • Hey, they slice right through them and if the doc is good, he can line things back up. Staples are the worst for goofing up a tattoo.

    One thing to keep in mind for future reference (if you do eventually go for a permanent SCS). Depending on the placement of your leads and the placement of the wires and the skill of your tattoo artist, you may not want anyone trying to push ink across or around those areas and inadvertently damage a wire.

  • haglandc said:
    Depending on the placement of your leads and the placement of the wires and the skill of your tattoo artist, you may not want anyone trying to push ink across or around those areas and inadvertently damage a wire.
    Believe me, I've thought about that. That's one of the reasons that I'm actively worrying about it. We'll have to figure something out. My artist is absolutely awesome (she did Ozzy Osbourne's right arm) and has a really light hand, but still. I guess we'll have to wait and see.
  • I recently had my Trial and wanted to wish you well.
    Don't get discouraged if you feel like crap the first couple of days. I ended up getting WAY too mental over it and that was unnecessary. By day 3 and 4 you'll feel up to doing more and that's what they want you to do. Walk around your house and do 'normal' things and just get accustomed to the settings.
    I felt I was rushed thru the procedure cuz the hospital was very busy that day.
    A good piece of advice would be to ask for the post op instructions BEFORE you go in for the procedure.
    That way, you'll be less likely to feel overwhelmed with it all. It really is no big deal and it sounds like you have a good relationship with your doc.
    You mentioned getting injections in both knees. Was that the "Synvisc" ? I did it and unfortunately it didn't help. Neither did the cortisone shots.

    I'll be getting the perm SCS on the 24th of this month. There was no doubt at all that it would cover the pain in both legs. I realized it was going to work the minute he turned it on. It literally feels like when your leg or foot falls asleep. That tingling it makes when they wake up. Yeah. It's wierd at first, but by day 3 and 4 I realized I was actually gonna like this thing.
    And the advantage to having leads placed for the lower extremities, the lead wires are pretty short (L2,L3ish), so they'll be pretty close to the unit (if you're getting it in your hip/butt area.)

    Anyway, I wish you luck.
    Rae :)))
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