Phil Meade has agreed to share his observations as he goes through the decision making about having spinal cord stimulation. This is the second part of the story. Here’s a link to part one.
You know the saying that “Minor surgery is that which happens to someone else.”
That may have been what Phil Meade was thinking Monday morning.
We introduced you recently to Phil, a Utah man who made a decision to pursue spinal cord stimulation (SCS) to address his chronic sciatica issues which have hampered his lifestyle.
This week, Meade had his temporary system connected so he can find out how well he responds to neurostimulation before committing to an implanted system. That’s normal for SCS surgery.
Meade had to return to the surgeon the next day to have a lead replaced that he couldn’t reach himself.
His initial impressions so far are mixed.
He said he feels better and in fact walked longer the morning after the procedure than he has been able to in recent months. (He’s an avid walker and golfer so these are important lifestyle considerations).
But the because the temporary system is not implanted he had a restless evening because he could only sleep on his side.
And another thing - the procedure hurt more than he thought.
“Maybe my threshold for pain is lower than some, but I was really uncomfortable once the light anesthesia wore off, it went beyond “minor discomfort” as described in the brochure.”
Another is that he cannot take a shower with the temporary system.
“Sponge baths just aren’t cutting it,” he laughed.
He also is being asked to make a decision by Thursday whether to proceed with the full implant - only 4 days after the temporary system was connected.
“That’s faster than I thought it would be, but in reality it will be a couple of weeks before the implant can be scheduled, so I probably have more time,” he said.
Meade has been told by the doctor about 80% of SCS temporary implants are deemed to be successful in reducing pain and the patient opts for permanent implantation.
A couple of other things have him thinking.
“I may not be able to have an MRI,” he pointed out. MRI fields, alone or in combination, may interact with and pose concerns for implanted neurostimulation systems. Meade has been told that by mid-to-late summer, the FDA may grant approval for MRI’s for SCS patients. However, Meade believes the approval will be for the head and lower body only, not the back.
Other little things, like going through airport security, passing alarms at stores and those types of things that cause a spike to the stimulation level thereby causing a “jolt” to the body. Naturally, he was told it seldom happens.
But the major thing he’s working out is whether to have the implant procedure done is his back. Addressing the sciatica issue, which will allow him to return to his lifestyle with more vigor, is the reason he started the process. But developing arthritis in his back is also a problem that may not be addressed by SCS.
Hopefully, by Thursday he will have an answer.
“That’s the decision I have to make. Do I have the implant done even though the arthritis may worsen in the months and years ahead.”?
Stay tuned for what Meade decides.
Here’s the St. Jude Medical Website on spinal cord stimulation. Meade is considering having the St. Jude system implanted.
Image courtesy of Medtronic.
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