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Stimulator will not turn on!

honeysmomhhoneysmom Posts: 292
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Spinal Cord Stimulation
I've been needing to get meet up with my Boston Scientific rep for a couple of weeks because the program I use most often quit working several weeks ago. I've also had an ongoing issue with the stimulator just turning off and the tech support people said it has to do with getting near to a magnetic field, which I haven't ever agreed with (it will turn off when I'm in the shower or sitting in a chair, doing nothing unusual), but I've always been able to turn it right back on when that happens. This morning while I was putting on my makeup, it turned off, and when I went to turn it back on, the remote will not detect the stimulator at all, even when I put it right next to the skin. I'm also realizing that it really does help me because I'm experiencing pain that I have not had.
I'm waiting on a call back now from one of the two reps in my area. One can meet with me later this afternoon at the hospital where he will be for surgery, but hopefully this lady can get to me earlier.
Wonder what in the world happened and if this is related to the other problems I've been having with it.
Has anyone ever had this happen?


  • Darn it. Well, my Boston Scientific rep met with me at the hospital this afternoon and he was able to get his remote to turn on my stimulator, but as he analyzed it, he said there is some pretty significant impediment because where he should have seen two lines of black boxes, about half the boxes did not go black. Something has most likely come loose and he doesn't yet know if it is up at my neck or down by the battery. I've got to travel tomorrow for work so they are going to x-ray me on Thursday morning at 9 at the pain mgt office to determine exactly where the problem is and then we'll go from there. My PM doc will be there to read the x-rays and they will also be sent to my neurosurgeon.
    I have had the best 4 weeks that I have experienced in many years, but now one component of that comfortable place is not working and boy can I tell it! I never turn off my SCS and I begged him to leave it turned on today with his remote, but he wouldn't do it because I couldn't take his remote with me and mine isn't working and you know you've got to be able to turn it up, down or off since it can jolt on you at times.
    So, we'll see what happens on Thursday morning and go from there.
  • have you checked the batterys in the remote? they could be dead, and Have you recharded the IPG. sometimes this can be tis simple, I hope it is so you dont have to go through a lot of trouble. someone else on here had BS and her batteries went dead after two days. keep us informed, I hope everything is ok. Rose
  • We confirmed that there is no problem with the batteries. I wish it were that simple. Brand new batteries in the remote as of two weeks ago. They were upper tier Duracells and this was only the second time I have ever had to change those batteries. I had only charged my SCS 4 days ago and he was able to see that it was fully charged when he was doing his analysis.
    It is something else. Some connection isn't being made. They will figure it out on Thursday and we'll work towards getting it fixed. That's the main thing!
  • Well, I think it is like a bandaid, but they got me working again today. Some programs had to be reworked to work around an area of my SCS that is not operating properly. There is also a chance that my remote control is going bad so my husband and I are reviewing the option of buying the extended warranty, just in case. I think I have about 45 more days to elect to take it since my warranty ran out in November. To replace the remote, now that I'm out of warranty, is $1200 and I'm sure insurance would not pay that. I'm not actually sure what she did to make it work, but she acknowledged that there has to be a lead that is loose or inoperable, but there was nothing visible on the two sets of xrays that were done on Thursday and again today. The only way to properly diagnose is to open me up and since she was able to get me working again and rework the programs successfully, we agreed that unless something else happens, we'll leave well enough alone right now.
    I'm a happy camper. I have been very satisfied with the quick and thorough attention that Boston Scientific has given to this matter since it came up last Tuesday.
  • I'm bumping this back up because since December, when all of this occured, more issues have arisen. About two weeks ago, I began getting sharp jolts of stimulation down both arms and in my legs, periodically. It happened 5-6 times/day for 3-4 days, then no programs were really working at all.
    A week ago I met up with my BS rep for xrays and testing. Nothing on the xrays indicated any movement or disconnection. But, when he hooked me up to the computer, only 5 of the 16 contacts are working in my paddle lead (cervical). He worked hard to program with just those 5 and actually was successful with that. We also met with my pain mgt doctor while we were there and he felt that we need to be proactive since there is obviously some internal problem and he has made the referral to my neurosurgeon for evaluation. My BS rep will be there for that appointment with her.
    The suggested course of action is to first go in at the site of the battery in my hip, remove it and connect the wire to an external source and see if the 16 contacts become active again. If they are, then the battery will be replaced. If it doesn't make a difference, then I understand that the paddle that is implanted in my upper back (around C5-C6) will have to be removed and replaced. This is obviously a malfunction somewhere in the hardware and not something I have done to cause it.
    Unfortunately, 10 minutes after I left that appointment, 3 of 4 programs completely stopped working so I never really got any relief from them.
    We met again this past Thursday and yet another contact that would have been the "driving force" for those 3 programs had gone out, so I'm down to 4 and getting no stimulation on my right side at all. Just waiting on the neurosurgeon now to schedule the appointment and will follow up with that on Monday since they have had the referral for over a week.
    This is so disappointing, but I'm accepting it for what it is and just have my fingers crossed that replacing the battery will do the trick so that the invasive procedure in the neck will be unnecessary. If it is necessary, I will basically be having the original surgery all over again and I understand that my neurosurgeon now requires that you wear a collar for six weeks afterward (which she did not require when I had my surgery in Nov. 2009) because so many people were pulling things loose from over activity.
    Here we go again!
  • Hope everything is OK. I will send some good thoughts your way. Keep us posted.
    Severe DDD. Klippel Feil Deformity. Cervical Foraminatomy that turned into Lamy. I have tried so many treatments, therapy's and medications.
  • I'll be curious to find out whether or not this is your paddle lead that has gone bad. My PM doc said he does not use paddle leads in the neck due to too much torque and movement causing them to break down. Wonder if your doc will choose to go with another paddle lead or 2 percutaneous instead.

    Sorry that you are experiencing such a tremendous malfunction of your system. The good thing about revisions, is that at least with the IPG pocket, it doesn't burn like it did with the initial implant. I had mine pulled out so that my lead could be reconnected and the only discomfort was the incision swelling.

    Make certain you charge your battery before any procedure just in case they leave that one in. It's no fun to recharge over a fresh incision.

    Keep us posted.


  • Thanks for the input, C. The first day that we could schedule an evaluation with the neurosurgeon where my Boston Scientific rep and I could be there is April 13, so it will be a while before anything is decided and scheduled. I'll keep you posted. So far the new programs are hanging in there and something is definitely better than nothing!
  • honeysmom don't worry to much. I had a program that was the best ever....One day it started shocking me...jolts to the point I couldn't move...I went in...they turned of the unit for a couple of days....I went through a revision because of this jolting...I had a bad paddle lead...so they removed it and replaced all leads...yes...it was like going through the first surgery all over again. Once it healed I tried my favorite program and it still didn't work. They tested the unit...nothing...tested the leads...nothing...so there was no reason why it should work...they talked about changing out the battery...in the end...the trouble ended up being...my body didn't produce enough scar tissue around the new leads and caused the lead to emit more energy then the unit thought was safe for my body. They messed with the program...changed a few things and wow it was working again. It was one contact that was causing the problem Every month or two I test to see if that program works but as of yet it hasn't. They say it may never work. The good news is they found other programs that work just as well. I am 90% pain free. I haven't had to use any pain meds in over 2 months...and I was taking a lot before the implant.

    I did have them put my programs on a cycle so they are on for 45 seconds and off 30. My body doesn't get use to the program and therefore the programs work longer before I have to go in for reprogramming. It is crazy but even when I know it is in the off section of the cycle...i can still feel the stimulation. I guess that is why it works so well for me. Some people hate that sensation and can't do the cycles...but it has been a life saver to me. Good luck to you.
  • Well, finally the appointment with Boston Scientific and my neurosurgeon is a couple of days away. I go on Wednesday at noon. I am SO ready to get this thing working again. I am pleasantly surprised to realize just how much the SCS was doing to control my pain now that I've been completely without it for over a month. No telling when we'll be able to schedule the revision, but hopefully it won't be too long. I've had the most dramatic pain in the last month or so that I've experienced since before my SCS.

    As far as revisions go, I'm fairly certain that Boston Scientific will be picking up the cost of the new SCS since it is still under warranty and I have done nothing to cause the failure, but for those of you who have had to have revisions, how did your insurance treat it? After all, the hospital, anesthesiologist, surgeon, etc still have to be paid. Is this going to cost my insurance and me the same as the last time, minus the cost of the unit? I'm not sure what questions to ask at my appointment and who to direct them to. Just looking for some advice on that part if anyone has any thoughts. I'm willing to pay it to get the relief, but I certainly don't want to. My husband and I are convinced that something has been wrong with my SCS since Day 1 as I've gotten error codes and had it shutting off on me almost since the very beginning.

    Any thoughts?
  • Normally, you/your insurance get charged for everything except the IPG, but technically you've voided your warranty, so you may have to pitch a bitch to get BSC to honor it.
    If the IPG fails to function within normal ranges within five years after the date it is implanted, Boston Scientific will replace the IPG with a functionally equivalent IPG made by BSC. No other relief whatsoever is available under this limited warranty. The limited warranty for a replacement IPG will last only for five years from the date of surgical implant of the original IPG. Claims under this limited warranty are subject to the following additional conditions and limitations:
    1. The product registration card must be completed and returned to BSC within 30 days of surgery.
    2. The IPG must be purchased after January 1, 2005 and implanted before the “use before” date.
    3. Failure of the IPG must be confirmed by BSC.
    4. The IPG must be returned to BSC (or BSC authorized agent) within 30 days after it fails to function within normal ranges. That IPG will be BSC property.
    5. This limited warranty does not include failures to function within normal ranges caused by:
    (a) fire, floods, lightning, natural disasters, water damage and other calamities commonly defined as “Acts of God”;
    ( b ) accident, misuse, abuse, negligence, or the customer’s failure to operate the IPG in accordance with manufacturer's instructions;
    (c) unauthorized attempts to repair, maintain, or modify the IPG by the patient or any unauthorized third party; or
    (d) attaching equipment to the IPG that is not supplied or expressly authorized by BSC.
  • Gotta love the fine print.
  • I'm not sure what you mean when you say I've voided my warranty - they will be hard pressed to enforce the 30 days since they are the ones who kept putting the band-aid on it. We'll see. The rep wasn't available to meet with the neurosurgeon at the time that would have been within 30 days of it completely stopping. They have been walking this thing hand in hand with me since the first malfunction and it is all a part of their records. There has been no discussion of the warranty not being honored by them, in fact my rep told me it is still under warranty. We'll know more Wednesday I guess.
  • That bit of fine print is strategic. Most IPG issues begin with a change in stimulation and BSC knows doctors will spend at least 30 days attempting to reprogram before they even consider the possibility of a technical problem and/or more invasive options to correct it.

    Unfortunately, the reps don't make reimbursement decisions. The bean counter with the corner office is in charge of trying to squirm out of honoring the warranty. That 30-day clause gives them the upper hand from the beginning, because probably <1% of the patients that make it to a revision do so in less than 30 days. :-/
  • Oh well, BW, I guess I'd best hope and pray that BCBS will cooperate. You know, when I had the original implant done, my hospital bill (which included the SCS) was $147,000. It did not include the bills from anesthesiologist or neurosurgeon, which were billed seperately. In the end, the insurance paid about $9,000 towards that bill and I was billed for $999. I guess the rest was written off. Just not sure how the insurance will view it this time, especially since I changed plans at the end of last year. We'll see!
  • Complete revision replacing everything is scheduled for May 17. Unlike 18 months ago, she will require a hard collar for 4 weeks and nothing I said would talk her out of that one. She said rather than trying to figure out what component went bad, she would prefer to replace the entire thing, including the wire that runs up my back.
    Darn these electronics! Can't live with them, can't live without them.
  • backpainzz said:
    have you checked the batterys in the remote? they could be dead, and Have you recharded the IPG. sometimes this can be tis simple, I hope it is so you dont have to go through a lot of trouble. someone else on here had BS and her batteries went dead after two days. keep us informed, I hope everything is ok. Rose
  • keep keep putting me off or make a appointment with me ,they forgot or something came up,,i think it their job,told couldt cut off my ins for 1 year or so but in 6 month cancel ins now they want do nothing and now i get worth by day
  • BobzBBobz Posts: 1
    edited 07/05/2015 - 8:28 PM
    I have been using the Boston Scientific stimulator since September 2000. It worked great and took all of my pain away. I mean 100% of my pain vanished. After a year and a half I got lazy and didn't charge it for a while. Then in 2015 I decided to charge it and use it again. I charged it for about 3 hours but I wouldn't turn on. I called the company and they told me that since I haven't used it for a long time, I need to charge it for up to 8-10 hours. I did and it got charged and now it is working just fine.

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