Editor’s Note: Phil Meade is a 73-year old St. George, Utah resident who has been considering having spinal cord stimulation to ease his pain and enhance his lifestyle. He has been sharing his decision making process in columns for the National Pain Report.
My spinal cord stimulation surgery is set for Monday morning (as I write this it is Sunday). My decision to go ahead with it came after a lot of soul-searching, and some restless and sleepless nights. Pretty much unless something really nutty happens in the next 24 hours, I’m going through with it.
I’d like to thank the readers of the National Pain Report for their support and interest during this decision. There have been three previous stories written and I’ve looked at all the reader comments–some of them telling me how great their experience has been, others thinking I shouldn’t have it done and still others who seem to appreciate the fact that I’ve shared this story.
To remind you, I’m 73 years old, very active and suffer from sciatica and from developing arthritis in my spine. As chronic pain patients go, I’m pretty lucky. My pain really only impacts my lifestyle. Walking and playing golf are a couple of activities I really enjoy and I’ve not been able to enjoy them much in recent years.
So as I neared a final decision, I went old school and put down a pros and cons list.
My Reasons to Have SCS Now
- The Younger I am when I have it the faster the recovery. (I said I’m 73 but I feel much younger!)
- The pain that I suffer will worsen, so get it now
- I’m going to be laid up for 6 weeks. It’s 100 degrees in St. George Utah and will be for a while so my outside activity is going to be limited
My Reasons NOT to Have SCS Now
- The surgery might not be right for me–I’m not suffering from chronic pain the way many do–I’m doing this only for lifestyle reasons
- The pain doesn’t go away immediately and the 6 weeks of no lifting, bending or twisting will drive me crazy
- The SCS will only relieve my sciatica issues and not my progressing arthritic lower back issues.
- There might be complications (What if I get worse?)
- Managing the pain short term through narcotic pain meds and their side effects of constipation and yes, potentially, addiction are troubling
- I’m going under general anesthesia and have heard horror stories of people my age coming out of anesthesia and they aren’t quite the same.
If you look at the list, you see more reasons not to have the surgery. However, everything I’ve read–and trust me that’s everything I could find–plus what Dr. West has been telling me has me and all of that soul searching I’ve done says, “It’s time–let’s do it”.
And that’s what I’m going to do….unless I don’t.
I’ll check back in with you in a couple of weeks after the surgery to share with you how it’s going, or, if something crazy happens in the next hours, I’ll check back with you later this week and tell you why I didn’t go ahead with it.
As you can see, life decisions are not easy for me.
Talk with you soon.
If you’d like to read other stories about this process,
- Here’s the June 8th story when I first thought, let’s do this.
- Here’s the June 17th story right after I had the temporary system installed.
- Here’s the June 26th story when I was coming down the home stretch and decided to schedule tomorrow’s permanent implantation.
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