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Friday, November 11, 2011


I do not know if you have seen this commercial for an antacid. A man walks in front of the camera. He has flames about him, indicating 'agita'. He says words to the effect of "If I eat now, I have to take an antacid. If I am going to lunch do I need to take another one? If I get a snack now then I have to take an antacid after or should I take it before? Then I am having dinner. Do I take the antacid before or wait until after? And so on.

That is the way I feel about my stimulator implant.

I wrote about something not being right in a post a few posts back (The What if's and Bizarroworld). I ended the first with the words, "Don't anticipate." "Be in the here and now."

The 'What if' is now.

Sue (pseuconym), the company representative, talked with the engineers at Medtronic (the company that produced the implant). They said "We're stumped." Not good. She is waiting now to talk with the neurosurgeon here in Philly (not the one who put in the implant). He is away until next week. But does it really matter? Sue told me the answer is most probably take it out because no one knows what is wrong.

Take it out. I want the doctor who put it in to take it out if it has to be removed, but he is in Colorado. The cost alone is prohibitive and then I have the cats to worry about. Even with a cat sitter coming in once or 2x a day would they ruin the house? This would be the first time in their 10 years of life that I would be away for more than 3 days, and that happened only once. (And then there is the What If something goes wrong and I have to be away longer.)

If I get it removed do I get another one put in? The first surgery was, to be brazenly honest, torture, pure and simple. I was under but had to be awakened, again and again, to answer the question, "Where is the pain?" "Where is it now?" The pain was horrendous, trigeminal neuralgia in its purest and most painful and hateful form. Being put back to 'sleep' did nothing to erase the it, or the fear.

Will they put in another? It was experimental. Would insurance pay? If they do, will the replacement be able to be placed in exactly the same spot? Will I lose the benefit as I did with the second spinal implant to replace the first that worked 85%, that I lost to infection? Who knows?

The major part of the pain is gone, due to the Miracle (or whatever you wish to call it). I remain disabled by the eye pain. I cannot work. But the pain is only eye movement and eye usage. Is that a sufficient reason for them to replace it?

The computer chip is attached to the covering of my brain. It has to be pulled or precisely cut off. Could that cause some brain damage? Who knows? I could be told "No." but if you have to pull enough, slice too many times, I would think there could well be a moment of 'Whoops'.

So, I am the man with agita. If I keep it turned off I get no benefit. If I turn it on, I get no benefit and some exceedingly uncomfortable sensations. If I take it out I would prefer to go to Colorado. If I go to Colorado I need airfare and a catsitter. If they take it out, can I get a new one? Will they pull too hard and damage my brain? Will it work? Implant now, implant later? Working implant or weird, unpleasant sensation? Benefit of stimulation or fear of the surgery? Possible brain damage or stay where I am? Asking the surgeon and hearing "Yes" or asking the surgeon and hearing "No." (or "I don't know")? It is enough to give you indigestion.

Being in the here and now is much harder when the present informs the future. My options are known. Ultimately, unless they say "No." it will be up to me. I have already increased my codeine and reduced my eye time. This present, that might also be the future, is abhorrent.

Honestly, it is a mess. All I can do right now is take an antacid and keep my fingers crossed..

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