When 70 year old Phil Meade agreed to share with us at the National Pain Report his decision making about whether to have spinal cord stimulation (SCS), he promised candor.
He’s lived up to that.
When we left him last week, he had decided to go ahead and have the surgery. He was confident that SCS would address his chronic sciatica which has drastically hindered his active lifestyle, but was raising concerns about whether it would address the advancing arthritic lower back issues that he’s been enduring.
He met with the Orthopedic Spine Surgeon to discuss the surgery yesterday, who, according to Meade, wants to do a thoracic MRI before surgery to determine placement of the leads. So the final surgery is now set for July 13.
Or is it?
As he said with characteristic humor, “pardon the double negative but I’m not deciding not to have the surgery yet, but I’ve been thinking more about the decision.”
Since deciding to go ahead with the surgery last week, he’s been thinking.
Here’s what he shared with us.
“Having had the weekend to think about everything combined with my appointment today leaves me with these thoughts. When I signed up for the trial period, the literature never mentioned the intricacies associated with the actual implant surgery. Primarily, they are cutting off the tip of one or two bones in the spine. Additionally, they have to cut through the back muscles to reach the spine. The first week or two post-op, recovery will be painful (Vicodin/Percocet painful). I am going with two weeks as we already determined I have a low pain threshold. It’s a total of six weeks (assuming no complications) before I can be active again.
Secondly, I learned that most people having SCS surgery fall in the “acute” pain category. A far less number fall into the “improved/active lifestyle.” Going online to get feedback is probably counter-productive since there are some big-time horror stories out there.
So then what are my plans? I am going to have the MRI and continue to do research to verify or challenge my decision to have it done now (can always be at a later date). I still have the advancing arthritic lower back issues and need to research what surgical options are available.”
As Phil told me via email:
Editor’s Note: As we mentioned before, Phil and I have known each for nearly 20 years. What I didn’t mention before and should have, is that he sees each of these articles before we publish to make sure they accurately portray his thinking.