One Patient Says Spinal Cord Stimulation “Not For Me”

One Patient Says Spinal Cord Stimulation “Not For Me”

SCS73-year old Phil Meade of St. George Utah has shared with National Pain Report readers all that went into deciding to have a spinal cord stimulator implanted to control his chronic sciatica pain. (Here are some of his previous stories.)

Last we talked to him, he had the surgery and was feeling o.k.

That was then.

He told us recently that an infection developed and he had the implant removed.

The infection has since cleared up.

But he is not going to have a new device implanted.

“It’s too bad really,” he said. “Before the infection set in, my pain was reduced.”

But he decided he’s not going to go through it again.

“Literally, the infection set a couple of days later,” he recalled. “ I began to feel ‘clammy’ and an hour later all my joints ached. I took my temperature and it was 102.4. As my post-op instructions requested, I called my doctor’s office.”

This was on a Monday when the doctor is in surgery all day so Meade could not see him. By 3 p.m., the temperature spiked to 104.2 degrees.

“I am told to take Tylenol to lower the temperature and if that didn’t work, go to the ER. I did manage to lower the temperature but the suture sites began to ooze,” Meade said.

He went to see the doctor Tuesday at 9 a.m. who told Meade that the device and leads had to come out asap. They were afraid the infection would climb the wire that is attached to my spinal column. By 2:30 he was back in the OR for the removal.

It took him a month to recover from the surgery to get back to where he was when he elected to have the surgery.

“I know I was told that there was a less than 1% chance of this happening and I thought those were pretty good odds,” Meade said. “The doctor said he’d never seen that happen before. I hated being that guy.”

On the decision not to have it done again, Meade said:

“Been there, done that.”

Translated that means “no way”.

He is gradually getting back to good health, or at least the health he had before all this occurred. His passion for golf is still intact, but regrettably he can’t walk a golf course and is limited when he plays.

Just like he was before.

Any regrets?

We’ll let you be the judge.

“The spinal suture site has become infected three times. I am currently on a high-dose antibiotic through daily IV infusion that will last until mid-October. The voluntary procedure has turned into a nightmare.”

“I thought that I was going to be able to do things I could 20 years ago before this sciatica made my life difficult.”

“I’m learning to accept that’s not going to happen.”

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

There are 3 comments for this article
  1. Leslie at 10:07 am

    I am scheduled to have the first surgery on Nov 11, 2015 for the SCS trial. I am very excited about the possibility of lowering the pain I endure from CRPS in my right hand and forearm. I see the Neurosurgeon next week and am keeping my fingers crossed about the Nov 11 surgery!

  2. Pain Patient at 2:40 pm

    Unfortunately, you do not know the truth about the % rates of infection. I was told that the % of people not responding after a good trial was less than 5%. That was not true. I have seen reports of up to more than 50% of people not having a good response after going through everything. I now have a SCS in my back that causes me more problems than it helps. I have let the battery run down, so that it stops going on by itself. The trial was wonderful, but the actual implant was not, and now I have a permanent muscle spasm next to the incision where it is attached to my spine which requires me to use a lidocaine patch daily to ease the burning from the spasm. The battery pack is also working itself out of my back for the second time. I do not want to go for more surgery, but after the last burn, I fear that I am pushing another infection, so I might not have a choice. My unit was recalled regarding burns, (placed after the recall, no less), but there is nothing I can do at this time in my body, except subject myself to more surgery. Good luck to you Phil, and heal soon!!

  3. Sandy Auriene Sullivan at 2:04 pm

    The stories about these fall into two columns. 1, fantastic.

    2, problematic for infection risk. Especially and this is any device, stim or drug – when they go wrong you’re often worse than when you started.

    Sadly just saw this again with a huge supporter of pumps. She had them forever decade plus. Good care. Last time? Destroyed her.

    Still while I am captive on docs table? Ask about advances in technology for pain. Surgeries and all. He stays up on it. Great opportunity to discuss with doc during deep spinal lubrication injections. Deep injections. Lol.