Thursday, July 27, 2006
What Will It Feel Like?
I've had several ask me what the spinal cord stimulator will feel like. While I'm in the operating room tomorrow they will ask me again where my areas of symptoms are. Then they will position the wire leads in the spine in such a way to target those areas. Once it is in place, the Medtronics technician or nurse will work with me to decide what programming to use. This is why I have to be awake. They will first ramp up the electrical pulses and they want me to allow it to max out to the point that I can't stand it any more. This will be my max point for now (later I will probably learn to tolerate the sensation more and the max will change). Then they will reduce the settings until we decide on the right programming (the power, the pulse length, etc.)
The "buzz" is supposed to cause a pleasant sensation known as paresthesia. There will be a tingling that some say feels like a nice massage. Some say it feels like seltzer water in the areas I normally have pain. Others don't like it. This is why we do the trial first.
When I laugh, sneeze, or cough, the "buzz" will be more of a jolt at first, until some scar tissue builds up around the leads to secure it away from the spinal cord more so it doesn't wiggle as much in the epidural space. The reason for the jolt at first is because sneezing or other similar jerking motions will cause the wires to move in the space. Eventually that will go away, and the jolt feels different for everyone.
Another thing to be careful of is going through store security. I must turn it off before entering and exiting the store because the security gates at the doorway could send a signal to my unit also causing a bit of a jolt.
Also, I will not be able to go through airport security. I will have a special medical card to present to security, and they will take me around the gate and scan me with a hand wand or do a brief touch search and then I can go on my way.