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Well, I survived Surgery

chileroxcchilerox Posts: 69
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Spinal Cord Stimulation
I had my SCS put in on Wednesday (the 21st of April). I was supposed to spend the night and get out of the hospital on Thursday. I had laughed when my doctor told me that, and told him I'm ALWAYS in the hospital longer than I'm supposed to be. (Brain surgery - 3 days? I was in for a week.)

Well, I was right. Everything went well, but I didn't get sprung from the hospital until Saturday night. We moved to a different hotel and managed to get a handicapped room, which has helped a lot.

Before I left the hospital Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy visited. The Occupational Therapist forced me to take a shower, which was all kinds of fun since my depression always kicks in when I'm in the hospital and I didn't want to do anything. I have to admit it was nice to put clothes on as opposed to my gown, though.

In the end, they gave me a walker (which has been a life-saver) and a grabber. My grabber has a hook AND a magnet at the end, which I think is really cool. She considered giving me a sock thingy, but I didn't want one since it's been summer here for 3 weeks and I have a friend who's a nurse who's going to send one to me.

Oh, and they gave me a potty chair. Which can also be used as a shower chair. Yippee!

I've been having a little pain from the incision in my back, and a LOT of pain from the incision on my hip. Plus the whole pocket where the IPG is really sore. REALLY sore.

Oh well, the only easy day was yesterday, right?


  • Just take things one day at a time my friend. Recovery will come.

  • That cool Iam going in Thurday to get mine put in.My trial started last Thurday.And it been a heaven sent.

  • Glad to hear you got "sprung" from the joint...

    I hate those places, every time you finally get to sleep someone comes in and pokes or prods you.

    Yeah, unless you have nerve damage, numbness at the ipg site to begin with that is usually the worst area. The body does not like that pocket or ipg being stuck in there. It slowly gets better, with me I saw a big difference between weeks 2&3.

    I am one week shy of a year on mine. I can actually lay on it on the floor to do things, it's uncomfortable, but only bothers me for a little while afterward. My biggest complaint is the anchors and leads, when you forget and do to much stretching or heavy lifting it lets me know about it.

    I get a gradual burn that turns to fire right in my T spine and it travels out under and through my shoulder blade until it covers the entire area to my right elbow. Since the T spine is were I had the endplate fractures, I can't even 100% blame it on the SCS.

    Use all your new toys and be good!
    The hardest part will likely come when the initial shock of the surgery wears off and you feel the new you. Don't forget to follow the restrictions!
  • I was really lucky, I got a really good hospital - they even had great food. And I wasn't a victim of the morning blood draws - in fact, aside from coming in to take my vitals various times a day (including way too early in the morning), I never had blood drawn after surgery.

    I thought it was kind of funny that I ended up in for 4 days though when it was supposed to be overnight. I'd warned the surgeon that I'm always in longer, so I guess now he has his proof! I'm just a slow healer in a lot of ways.

    I'm finally starting to get around a little better, and it looks like my grandparents are going to let me use the walker that they won - it's one of the nice ones with the seat and 4 wheels and brakes and such. It should be a lot easier to get around with.

    We drove the 3 hours or so to their house from Austin today and I did pretty well - better than I expected.

    My incision at the IPG site is definitely the worst, and I'm still having a LOT of itching, both around the incisions, and around the entire IPG site and all up the left side of my spine where they ran the wires. I've been taking benadryl trying to help it some but no such luck.

    My shoulders are really tight, and getting in my truck is really painful, but I'm getting by. Bit by bit, I'm slowly improving. The pain in my hips/knees/tailbone is completely gone, and I think it's come back for about 5 minutes before I tweaked my stim levels and it went away again.

    I'm so glad that they came up with this surgery, because even as slowed down as I am now, I feel like I'm living in a whole new world, and it is AWESOME.
  • That is so wonderful to hear. Remember just because you feel better doesn't mean you are ready to run the race...take it easy and allow things to heal properly. If you are a slow healer than remember to take extra time...although they said 8 weeks...I took 10 before I started to return to any bending. I still try not to have to do any of those things...but sometimes you just have to. Enjoy the life you can...I know it has made a world of difference in me...even my children are happier.
  • Yeah, I'm definitely being careful about not doing anything too quickly. I really don't want to have to have any surgery to fix things that get messed up by doing too much.

    I'm basically doing nothing at my grandparents' house but sitting around watching tv and knitting. When we go up north to move my stuff to Houston, my job is going to be sitting around and doing nothing. It should be fun. Heh.

    I haven't had nearly as much trouble with my incisions today, although they're starting to act up now that it's later in the day. I found out that I have to turn my stim down before getting on the computer because it turns it up really high.

    I'll get there, day by day. I've been using my grabber a lot and walking enough but not too much. Gotta take it nice and easy so I don't have to go through it twice!
  • You'll slowly get used to what level to set your stim at for what activity.
    If you take notes of what works best; when they program they can set presets that make it a couple click process to go to a program for sitting, walking, sleeping etc,

    Don't be surprised if they don't want to set this up for a month or two though. My PM, shall we call him Dr quack? maybe not, anyway, he did not want to do any adjustments as long as I was doing ok until the end of the restriction period. His theory is that as it scars in the needed levels change and programming presets is usually wasted time as they just need redone.

    Mine is cervical, positional and I have finally found a level and setting that I can just leave alone. Moving around changes the stim, but I have a mid point that lets me ignore the occasional high level of stim and the occasional low level of coverage.

    Ironically we, my shrink, Dr. Wonderful has helped me find some old school meds, Lamictal and Nortriptyline that just plain seem to be working very well for a good deal of my pain too! So, after 4 years I am somewhat hopeful the worst is behind me and I can sneak up on a somewhat more "normal" life!

    Sorry for Wrambling on, I did not pick the name for that reason, but sometimes it fits very well!
  • I've been doing pretty well. I'm off of the fentanyl, and I've cut way back on the hydrocodone. I'm still having some pain in the incisions and the pocket.

    I'm taking things easy and doing a lot of laying around and sleeping, but it's amazing how much better I'm doing.
    I've figured out the right area to have it turned up to when I'm wandering around, and sometimes it needs a few clicks up or down. When I go to bed I just turn it off because I can't sleep if it's turned on.

    My follow-up is the 10th... we'll see what happens!
  • So, I went in for my follow-up on Monday.

    The PA was shocked when she saw me. I lost track of how many exclamation points she wrote in my file. She looked at my incisions and said they look great and that I must be a quick healer. I told her I normally am not - but maybe that's because I've always been in so much pain!

    Obviously they were thrilled with the results I've had. I told her that the world looks completely different to me, it sounds silly but it's almost like everything is brighter and more colorful. I am off the fentanyl and taking maybe one hydrocodone every few days. In 4 weeks I go back in and see the surgeon himself.

    A few days ago I was able to sit and read my textbook for school for 6 hours straight, which I don't think I've ever been able to do before. I've churned through 200 pages in the last few days, and I actually sit down and realize that I feel like studying!

    I had called my rep from the trial (Hunter) and he put it in the calendar that I wanted a rep to meet me at the surgeon's office. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to come himself - he'd hoped to. After waiting for 45 minutes I called him and told him that I was still sitting there. He was horrified - 15 minutes later the rep who did my final placement surgery showed up. I didn't even recognize her, she has not made much of an impression on me. She was shocked at how much better I look than the last time she saw me. Apparently Hunter had called her and asked WHERE ARE YOU SHE IS WAITING!!!

    She tried to tweak some things, and I ended up with the electrodes on the right side shifted a bit. She told me that there was no way to do the programs like I asked (and I didn't ask for anything complicated or odd), so I have a feeling that she has no clue what she is talking about. I will ask my previous rep the next time I talk to him, as he has told me to call anytime I have a problem or need something.

    For the first time I was able to drive from Houston to Austin (3 hours) and back without having to have jerky to gnaw on to keep me alert. I was wide awake the entire trip, despite having to leave before 7 a.m. to make my 10:15 appointment on time.

    This afternoon I recharged my battery for the first time - it was just below 1/2 charged, and Hunter told me to go for it when I called to make sure I was okay to charge it. I had a full 8 bars and it still took 2 hours, so I am glad I didn't wait til it was any lower!

    I am rather missing being able to crawl around on the ground and change the oil in my truck myself, but not being in pain is worth that small price. Everyone said that the permanent implant would be even better than the trial, and I didn't think that was possible. Well, they were right! 95-100% pain relief. No wonder everyone is so shocked by my results.

    My biggest problem now is remembering not to bend over, not to pick up my cats - they weigh too much at this point, I have to wait! and having my roommate turn the water on for me so that I can shower - the faucet is too stiff for me to take care of myself, what with not being able to push/pull.

    After 20 years of pain, I finally feel like a 'normal' person, even if it means that I am buzzing and have a remote control on my belt at all times, and an extra ID card in my pocket. If I ever met the people who came up with this technology, there would not be any way that I could even begin to thank them for giving me my life back. Words don't begin to describe how grateful I am.

    (I have found myself many times over the last couple of months wishing that I could work for Medtronic and help people in the same way that they have helped me, but unfortunately my field is asymmetrical warfare/guerrilla warfare, terrorism, and intelligence analysis! Not a whole lot of overlap... lol)
  • Give it time, you will be able to crawl under your truck and change your oil again, been there, done that.

    My biggest issue with doing that kind of stuff is to be careful not to lay on the side where my ipg is. It really, really got sore for a long time when I would do things laying on the ground. I'd guess for about 8 months or so. I'm a year out now and generally I only notice some discomfort for a day if I lay on the ipg doing stuff. I try to remember not to lay on that side.

    The other issue is if I reach and bend to much then the leads and anchors get sore.

    All of this is "OK" if you think about it. Without the pain we would probably pull our leads loose and damage the ipgs etc; The pains from this type activity are the pains we should not "press through" They are more of a warning, stop now, no further.

    Glad to hear you are doing so well, be careful and let time pass.
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