Editor’s Note: Phil Meade is going to have spinal cord stimulation treatment for his chronic pain. He has agreed to share some of his experiences.
Several weeks ago, I received a phone call from an old friend and colleague who is now retired and living in St. George, Utah.
Phil Meade wanted to know what I knew about spinal cord stimulation. (Several years ago I worked as a communications consultant for Boston Scientific’s Neuromodulation division and had some knowledge about SCS).
I told him what little I knew and then I asked him if he’d be comfortable sharing his story as he goes through the process of deciding and then having the surgery.
He had been seeing a doctor for chronic back pain. He had tried some medication (Gabapentin which gave him relief but had some nasty side effects and Lyrica which didn’t do anything to relieve the pain). Also he had been receiving spinal injections which would help for a while.
“But over time, I was just getting less and less relief.”
Meade loves to walk the golf course and enjoys exercise.
He was frustrated that his pain wouldn’t let him golf as he likes or do much of anything else. He noted he recently spent about an hour in a shopping mall and the standing and the walk made him “just miserable”.
“If I wanted to live a sedentary life, I probably would be o.k.,” said Meade. “But I like to be active.”
So his doctor suggested spinal cord stimulation, which about 400,000 persons have experienced. SCS is also known as nerve stimulation, and involves having a small pulse generator placed in the body which produces electrical signals to mask the perception of pain traveling from the painful area to the brain.
There are a lot of seniors in St. George and seniors often will share their opinions, whether you ask them or not. One day at a local coffee shop, he found himself in a conversation about enduring pain and the concept of spinal cord stimulation – and the reviews were mixed.
“A woman I was speaking with said it was horrible, while another guy said it was great.” He has yet to find someone neutral about the procedure.
What appeals to him is that there is a screening test period, and he can “try it out” for a week.
Patients undergo a psychological evaluation to see if they are good candidates. One of the questions they asked Meade, “Are you a maverick or a rule follower?”
Meade pointed out he was raised by a doctor who was a stickler for following the rules. Meade does the same.
His decision to go ahead with the surgery came about in an interesting way. He wanted a second opinion, so he went to talk with both a neurosurgeon and an orthopedic spinal surgeon.
“The second opinion actually cleared some things up for me,” Meade told us. “I’m a bit fussy and have a need for detail, and I actually left with more understanding and a higher confidence level that I was doing the right thing after speaking with the two spinal specialists.”
Meade will have his trial stimulator put on June 15th. We’ll circle back to him and see how it went and when or if he decides to have the permanent implant.
Editor’s Note–If you have had spinal cord stimulation surgery, and would like to share your experiences, let us know by emailing us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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