Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Back Surgery #2 - Coming Soon!

Medtronic is the brand device that will be used for my
Spinal Cord Stimulator Surgery Implant. The picture
above is of the battery that is implanted under the skin and
muscle, but can serviced every few years if needed without
too much trouble.
Hello sweet friends! My doctor's appointment from last Thursday went really well, in which we discussed the surgery my specialist from Birmingham (whom I see monthly) recommended because we are basically out of options as far as conservative treatment is concerned. This new physician from Huntsville discussed with me all the pros and cons to surgically implanting a Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) Unit.

Some of you may be wondering what a spinal cord stimulator (also called a dorsal column stimulator) does. Spine Health defines spinal cord stimulation as "an aggressive pain management technique that involves surgical implantation of an electrotherapeutic device onto the spinal cord. In the procedure, a device is implanted that produces low levels of electrical current to the dorsal portion of the spinal cord to block the sensation of pain. Spinal cord stimulators may be a fully implanted system or a system with an external power source. Spinal cord stimulation is often used to treat neuropathy (neuropathic pain, or nerve pain) from failed back surgery syndrome or radiculopathy. Spinal cord stimulation has shown to be an effective long-term treatment for back pain."

The complete process of this surgery involves:
1. Prior-authorization from insurance (which takes roughly 35-40 days to receive)
2. A trial placement and time period (of just 2 electrodes - outpatient surgery vs. the roughly 16 they will be implanting with the actual surgery)
3. The final surgery with the permanent SCS Unit being implanted if the trial goes well.

As far as the final surgery is concerned, it is known to be pretty rough because it is an open surgery with several incisions, at least two being quite large, where they cut down to the epidural space (past the spine) in several areas to get prime placement, and they also thread each electrode through the soft tissue of the back to connect underneath the muscle tissue.

Despite the difficulty with the final surgery regarding recovery, the success rate with this surgery is fairly high (especially since you get to experience a trial prior to having the permanent SCS implanted). I also know several friends with these medical devices and they love them. The SCS is NOT designed to take away all of my pain, nor to allow me to discontinue all medications. However, the goal from this surgery is for me to be able to cope with my daily pain in a dramatically better way (allow me to function better).

The surgery will take place at Huntsville Hospital and I will stay at least one night in hospital following surgery. It's a bit of a drive from our home, but it's worth the quality healthcare. And the visit was worth the drive, because I got to ride the tram.... :o

Both Rence and myself are excited about this opportunity. We would greatly appreciate your prayers in the process, as we seek prior-authorization from insurance - that it would be approved - and that God would continue to give us wisdom in our finances as we save up for the up-front costs of the surgery. Please also pray that God would provide willing servants of Christ to help us through this process via childcare and meals for a few days when that time comes. Thank you so much, dear friends! It means the world to us!

PS - For anyone interested on more about the procedure, here is a link to what a Spinal Cord Stimulator is all about (click the "here" button above OR copy and paste the address below).