Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bionic Woman!

I am totally a bionic woman now :)

So I have chronic illnesses that cause my nerves to over fire and create a lot of pain. I don't want to be on pain medication, so we went to see an amazing pain management specialist. And what she did was awesome!

So, I have a spinal cord stimulator in my back made by the company Medtronic. We had to have a surgery trial in the office to see if the stimulator would help with the over firing of the nerves before they put a permanent one in.
On our way for the trial surgery. I'm very nervous, and sad to have to transition a foster child.

I had back surgery while I was awake. And it was awful. They put 2 leads up the side of my spine, and tried to get to the right nerve bundle to target my trunk/belly area where a lot of the pain is from due to endometriosis and pelvic venous congestion syndrome etc. This test surgery took 2 hours, way longer that it should have.

So, I told my husband when we left I would never do that again, I didn't want the permanent stimulator, and I cried. A lot. It hurt wicked bad. And because they had to poke around so much more than normal my body tried to protect itself by sending lots of fluid to the site, so the left side lead didn't even end up working. I'm sure you can imagine how many prayers we said and how hard we tried. That day was also difficult because we had to transition one of our foster children, which feels like having your child die. It's awful and so heartbreaking.
Crying more that we had to transition a child than from the pain of the awful surgery.

But, after the first 24 hours, I noticed a significant change. My left side didn't work due to the fluid build up, but the right side did, I had 90% relief in my right side, and the swelling in my legs went down, as well as my belly! It was a miracle. For the trial they have you keep the lead out to change the settings, so I had a tail, as you can see in the picture.

Then, about 5 days later they pulled the leads out and booked the real surgery. I wouldn't be awake this time and it was at the hospital. They stitched the leads into the myofascial tissue around m spinal cord, and I have a battery in my back. I have to recharge it, and it lasts for 9 years. I shouldn't ever need the leads taken out, just every 9 years the battery in my body will need to be removed and replaced.
Happy with the trial, that's what the tail connected to, it allowed me to change the settings. Also I have multiple pairs of this shirt so don't think I kept wearing the same shirt over and over, I just really like this one so I bought multiples of the same one :)

So we got the permanent surgery, and I have this thing where I put the receptor over the battery and change the setting of the stimulator. It's like a gentle tingling sensation and helps my joints and whole body function amazingly better! It's a miracle! Then I have another receptor that goes over the batter that I recharge the battery with. So the battery in my back serves 2 purposes, it allows me to change the settings of the stimulator and it allows me to recharge the battery.
Cool stitches huh? The vertical tape covers where the leads went in, and the horizontal one is where the battery is. After they took off the tape we took a picture and the scar at first made it look like I had a huge plumber bum, so I didn't include that picture. Sweet bruises right on the first day! My Doctor is amazing, but rather rough. The bruises got way worse before they got better. But I would do it all over again.
The left black think goes over the battery, and the screen turns on allowing me to change the settings.
This is what re-charges the battery in my back. It's getting good reception and fastest charge when all those little black boxes are full!

My scars are healing nicely, and I had to be very careful to not twist, bend or lift anything, otherwise the leads could have moved at the top of my spine and it would have all been for nothing. The leads are only stitched into the base of the spine, not the top, because that requires a bunch of surgery specialists, so the best way is to just be careful and let your body scar in the top of the leads.

Here I am, a bit swollen and tired after surgery but excited about the potential for what might come!
Sometimes I turn it down where it's still on but I can't feel it. Other times when my endometriosis is causing a lot of pain I will turn the stimulator up and it helps block the pain signals and I feel the gentle tingle. The swelling in my legs has gone down, and I'm feeling great!

We did have some complications after the surgery, so thank you to everyone for your love, support and prayers. The hospital didn't follow my doctors protocols so I developed a fluid pocket around the battery which made changing the levels and charging very difficult, and for the first little while the stimulator didn't work correctly because of the fluid build up, just like in the test. So my amazing hero Ken went and bought this therapeutic girdle thingy that's this elastic thing you wear that puts pressure over the area, so we are now in the clear, and the fluid pocket is gone.

If my leads shift slightly it's ok, because the company can change the settings by putting their machine over my battery and they can change where it stimulates and so we had it adjusted last week and now that the fluid pocket is gone it's working amazingly well! We are so happy to not have to need pain medicine and have a wonderful treatment plan that I have control of that really is helping make a huge difference.

We have been so blessed by the Lord to live in a wonderful new area with amazing Latter Day Saints (Mormons) who love the gospel of Jesus Christ and have been so welcoming and making us feel so loved. We have had miracle after miracle to get my stimulator to work, to move to this new home, to be able to have Ken's business start to grow, and so many other special and sacred things I can't mention there are just too many!

I know Jesus is our Savior, and if we turn to Him and pray for help and guidance, we can overcome the obstacles in our way, like fluid packs that cause complications. I know that if you are struggling and in need of comfort, all you need to do is pray. I'm so grateful for modern medicine to help me live a healthy and fulfilling life. And I'm grateful that soon we will be able to begin with a new agency and adopt a family of our own.

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