I am attempting the Wego Health Activist Writers’ Month Challenge. A post each day in April. So, now that I told you I am going to do it, I oughta follow through, right? Today’s prompt is to write about how technology has played a part in your treatment.
So, you follow me on twitter. Or maybe instagram. And you saw a tweet. It mentioned a surgery that I hadn’t told any of you about. In fact, outside of my family, coworkers and friends I considered to be close, I didn’t tell anyone. Not because I didn’t think that you should know, but because I didn’t want to share too soon.
Because I didn’t want to jinx it.
You see, I am a battery-operated, remote-controlled human. Which makes me part robot. Although, I am less robot than Cybermen and the borg. And more human than the Cylons. (I sure hope I got enough sci-fi references in there to maintain my nerd status).
I have a device implanted under the skin on my back and it runs from my left hip to my spinal cord. It’s called a Spinal Cord Stimulator.
The SCS works to interrupt pain signals from my leg to my brain. It is kind of like a pacemaker, an insulin pump or a replacement joint. A man-made contraption designed to improve my quality of life. Once a week, I plug in and charge.
A year and a half ago, I took the plunge and had it implanted. Between October of 2011 and March of 2013, the wires that were tunneled into my spinal cord came loose. One even moved so far that it was just free-floating below my skin.
So, last Thursday, I went in to be rewired. I left with an upgrade
You see how I could not want to talk about it, right? A surgery so filled with promise had already gone awry once, I just wanted to wait it out. I was managing my own expectations. And I was trying not to panic. Or worry too much. That’s what I have Mammacakes for.
So, after little more than 2 hours of sleep, at 4:15 am, in epic flooding, Mammacakes and I made the drive to Rush. We made it through admissions. And the pre-op waiting room. I signed waivers and medical history forms.
And I waited.
A familiar face came by while I was waiting for the rest of the operating room staff to make it in (I did mention the epic rains, right?). It was the rep from Medtronic, the manufacturer of my SCS. She left to get the lay of the land (she normally works out of the hospital I was at previously), and I could overhear her talking to my doc.
They had a new offer.
They were going to be making the cuts anyway, so they offered me a new SCS. A fancy-schmancy one that could remember how I like it set in different positions. It will change when I lay down and sit up. If I roll to my side. Um, of course I wanted the new model! And then started the parade of residents and fellows in pain medicine. Each one of them made a point to tell me that they had never seen a stimulator have that kind of movement.
Surgery went smoothly and I am recovering well. Over the next few months, I will continue to heal – although that means no baking on my own for a while. But that’s ok, because this time, the stimulator seems to be working correctly.
I’m a proud cyborg. And don’t you forget it.