For those of you who may have intrathecal pumps implanted like me, pray yours never fails.
At the end of October I was surprised while in my quiet little bathroom to hear my pump alarm sounding. In the 9+ years I've had a pump that has never happened, and frankly it scared me so much I didn't know what to do. I went into the doctor the next morning and they immediately checked the pump log. My pump wasn't empty, but the logs showed it had been malfunctioning for a couple of days. Because my hearing isn't the greatest and with normal household noise, the alarm had been sounding long before I heard it. When the dr contacted Medtronic they said nothing could be done; that the pump needed to be shut down and would need to be replaced. So now I had to be put back on oral meds to takeover for the pump. I figured surgery would be right away, but I came to learn I couldn't even see a surgeon for over a month. My pain was out of control, but with surgery on the horizon, I figured I could bear it. The surgery went fine, but as I'm coming out of anesthesia, my husband said "I have bad news; the pump all went fine but there's no morphine in it, just saline." You can imagine my reaction. I came to find out that I had a granuloma on my catheter, blocking its ability to function. For those who don't know, a granuloma is a group of cells that attack things they don't think belong in your body-- like my catheter. Kind of like white blood cells attacking infection. I'm still not clear why this next part happened but have to rely on my surgeons reasoning. Instead of just tying off the old catheter and replacing it with a new one, he chose to fill the pump with saline and take an MRI of the blockage, then give the saline 3 months to attempt to push out the granuloma, do a 2nd MRI to see if it has cleared. If it has, then they will proceed with filling the pump with morphine again. If not, then i will have the surgery to have a new catheter inserted. Sounds simple enough; right? Well, let me tell you, my life has been nothing short of a nightmare since this started. Trying to reproduce the same amount of pain relief provided by the pump is not a simple task. I am now on week 5 since my surgery and my doctors have still not been able to control my pain. I have lost 20 lbs., can't sleep, can't concentrate on anything, and all I do is cry. Frankly, I have even considered overdosing just to put an end to it all, but I know I could never do that. They have now made medication changes 4 times and I'm no closer to having my pain controlled than when we started. All I can say is, pray you never have to experience this situation.