It felt as if I had just been stabbed with a knife between my shoulder blades. Over and over — the pain radiated into my head and down my arms. The neck pain was so horrific that my head, arms and hands were also shaking so badly from the pain that I felt as if I was out of control. But, what was going on, was I dreaming? Why was I strapped down and unable to move? Why was I in such horrible pain? I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
I have always had difficulty waking up from anesthesia. I usually feel sick, but this time was different. When I woke up, I was in the operating room, on my stomach with my neck and head propped up a bit higher than the rest of my body. My arms were off to the side, but not as high as my head. It took me a little while to remember I was in the operating room having the trial Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) implanted. However, I wasn’t prepared for the pain I was in due to the position I had been in for the past hour or so. My doctor had woken me up to make sure that the SCS leads were in the correct position and that hadn’t hit any other nerves or caused any other damage.
Mostly what I remember from the remainder of the surgery is that all I wanted was to be moved out of the position I was in, to any other position where I could move my neck. They gave me medication to help me relax, but honestly, it didn’t help. I begged Dr. S. to finish up, or to at least place my head in a different position. While I have an extreme high tolerance for pain — it was at that point when I knew I was at a breaking point They kept telling me “five more minutes — but those five more minutes added up to at least another hour.” I pleaded for them to do something differently — anything. I asked them to put me back to sleep, but I knew that they couldn’t. I would pay for being in that position for weeks later.
After they took me to the recovery room, I was moved to a regular hospital room since my blood pressure was high. That is one side effect of my pain — I might be able to hide my pain from others, but my blood pressure always tells the truth. I knew that if I didn’t get it down that I was going to be there overnight and that was the last thing I wanted.
I fell asleep for a few hours and when I woke up I felt a bit better. Dr. S. and two representatives from the company that manufacture the SCS stopped by to see how I was doing and to explain the details of the SCS. I was glad my husband was there to comprehend all the details. I would use the SCS for a week to see if it helped with my pain. Since I had an open incision where the leads came out to the battery pack, a nurse would come to our house each day to check my incision, blood pressure, temperature, change the bandage, etc. I remember thinking that this was the type of care I should have received from Dr. Liar when he used a mallet to screw up my spinal cord. For once the role of nurse and caretaker wouldn’t fall on my husband’s shoulders. I was grateful to Dr. S. for his efforts and willingness to help me manage my pain and to have a nurse help with my care.
Dr. S. said that if I was able to eat something and keep it down then I could go home. Fortunately I did and was home for the weekend with my temporary battery pack in tow. I wasn’t doing cartwheels like the other patient who had the SCS implanted that day, but I knew that it would take time to get the settings set correctly. I knew that we were asking the SCS to do the unusual. After all, I wasn’t the ‘usual’ patient. However, I was in a lot of pain and even asked for pain medication.
Once home, I was told to experiment with the SCS and to rest, not lift, or bend. I was tired of television, movies, etc. so I spent an afternoon sitting on our back deck watching the birds, listening to the waterfall in the fish pond, etc. All of a sudden a thought came to me — tell your story. You have the right to write and tell others how you were treated so they won’t go through it. The more I thought about it — the more I realized I was trying to talk myself out of it. It’s was a very personal experience. If I did tell my story, I would have to tell all of the story. Parts of it were rather embarrassing. Who cared about my story? Could I really put it down on paper including the tough stuff? Could I put myself through that mentally and relive the past few years? I was trying to forget about Dr. Liar and all his lies — not bring it all back up again. I knew it was what I needed, but I was doing all I could to avoid it. Later that day I made myself sit down and I dictated the first few paragraphs of what would be this blog. While I rehashed the nightmare — it felt as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I wasn’t sure what I would do with it, but something was telling me to write. So, I wrote. And, I felt as if I had been given back a very important gift. I wasn’t a lost soul after all! Before I knew it, I had 20 pages written and found that the words flowed. I found that writing about this horrible story was therapeutic. Maybe my writing was a tool that could help give me back the life that I was missing along with helping others. Just maybe.
Experimenting with the SCS was interesting. There were six settings on the battery pack, which could be adjusted to various strengths. I tried each of them multiple times and no matter which one I used and at different settings, I didn’t get the relief I needed. The stimulator also conflicted with my internal essential tremor so I felt as if my body would tremor and then there was the sensation from the SCS. It’s hard to explain since most people don’t understand how a tremor feels, but I tell people it feels like an internal zip and then a zap. Or, like you have been shaken and it’s just wearing off. Not a pleasant feeling. Needless to say, my doctors and I decided that the SCS was most likely not the best choice for me. Disappointed, yes, but relieved that I wouldn’t have to go through that surgery again! There were other options, but I felt my poor body needed time to recover. I needed time to recover.
©My Unplanned Life and www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com. 2011.