I had a Medtronic SCS implanted 5 weeks ago, and I'm glad I did. At 4 weeks I was pretty much done with the incision pain, so now I'm managing the pain I had before with the SCS and oral meds. As I anticipated, and was told would likely be the case, the SCS does not replace pain medication, but it has reduced my need, and nicely fills in the gap where the pain medication was not working. A few things I wish I had known...
1. The Medtronic programming device has to be placed on top of the battery. An antenna extension is needed if the battery is located in a place where the patient cannot read the screen or see the controls. (this means an extra component to carry) I would have given much more thought to battery placement had I known this, and specifically asked for it to be placed where I could see the programmer.
2. The Medtronic rep set up a program in the hospital post-op, and on my follow-up visit with the doctor we were to fine tune it. I was driven to the appointment and had the device on until I met with the rep. I should have been told to keep the device off for 30 minutes before the appointment. When the device was shut off, I was feeling the numb after effects of having it on high, and I could not feel or could barely feel the adjustments the rep was making. The end result is the revised program was less effective than the original. I'm waiting until I'm 12 weeks post-op to meet with them again, as I'm told as it continues to scar into place, it may move, so I don't see any point in fine-tuning until then.
3. The pain reducing effects of the SCS may not be instantaneous. (they're not for me) Although the device turns on within seconds of being activated, it takes between 15 & 30 minutes before the pain reducing effect reaches a satisfactory level. I assumed that once activated, the pain reduction would be immediate. Once it's been on for a bit, it's effective.
4. If you can manage it, sleep with it off. Sometimes I go to sleep with it on a lower setting and turn it off in the middle of the night. If I sleep with it on, I end up using it at higher levels during the day as I become used to it at night. It's also good to turn it off or change programs during the day so you don't become too used to it and have to ramp it up very high.
5. Discuss unlocking pulse width with the rep. I am technically inclined and worked analyzing databases and mapping data, so I'm very good with recording data and analyzing results. This control is definitely not appropriate for everyone, but for me, it made a huge difference. It takes time, experimentation, and record keeping to get good results (remember to record your original settings!), but it can make a huge difference.
Having recorded all this, let me say these results/observations are specific to me and I'm not saying they're the same for everyone, but take them for what they are, food for thought.
Best of luck to everyone in managing your pain. I know it's difficult and often frustrating, but keep at it! With the right doctor, great things can be accomplished.