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Revision Surgery

Posted Oct 14 2009 10:02pm
I traveled to Chicago last Thursday as planned, for a minor wire revision scheduled on Saturday. Naively, I scheduled my plane ticket back home for Monday evening.

I had an appointment with my surgeon Friday morning. The good news was that what I thought might be wires protruding from my head are actually just sutures that haven't yet dissolved and my skin is rejecting. So it's pushing them out and I shouldn't worry about them. That's a relief, let me tell ya. Then we talked about my wire revision. At first the doctor wasn't convinced I needed it, said the tightness was just from healing, but I made him really look at and feel the wires and he saw what I was talking about. He said they could take the wire on the right side out and bury it deeper, but that would include re-opening my battery incision, re-tunneling the wire, and opening my head again. I thought about it but I decided that if I'm gonna have this thing for the rest of my life, I want it to be correct and comfortable. While we were talking, we also decided to remove one of the wires on the right...the one that runs across my forehead, because I really don't use it. That means no more bump on my forehead from the end of the wire! Call me vain but that little bump bugged me 100x more than all the other scars, and even the big old battery in my chest. I don't know why. Maybe because it was impossible to cover.

Anyway, surgery was Saturday morning at the hospital. The weird thing is I wasn't nervous, like not at all. I guess surgery has become old hat at this point! That's kind of sad. But everything went smoothly. I was in surgery for two hours, way longer than I anticipated, and was put fully under...breathing tube, the whole deal. Just like last time, I didn't feel like the pain killers prescribed to me after the surgery were sufficient so they had to track my doctor down to ask for more and I didn't leave the hospital until about 8 p.m. I forgot how exhausting surgery is. I didn't really eat or get out of bed for any significant amount of time until Tuesday. I haven't scheduled my flight home yet, but at this rate I might as well stay through the weekend.

Actually, the worst part of the whole thing was that they turned my stimulator off during surgery and never turned it back on. Vicodin and all those narcotic painkillers tend to give me a headache in the first place, but without the stimulator it was even worse. Sunday and Monday mornings I woke up with a raging headache. I got it under control but it was a pain in the butt because my battery, which the remote control has to touch in order to work (I know, not very remote huh?) was buried under a bunch of bandaging so I had to rip through all that and eventually replace it.

I'm back on restricted activity for 8 weeks, which is really lame because I was done healing. I felt really good before this surgery. But I keep telling myself it'll be worth it. I can already tell the wire feels better. It's not perfect, it's still a little tight over my clavicle when I turn my head but I'm sure in another month I probably won't even feel that.

From all the people that I've talked to that have stimulators (any kind...occipital, spinal, etc.), it seems like revision surgery is fairly common. I think it's hard to get things in just the right place when it comes to something as ambiguous as a neurological surgery. But if it makes you feel any better, revision surgery is definitely not as harrowing as the original stimulator surgery.

P.S. My doctor mentioned he's read my blog...imagine that! So if you're reading, Hi Dr. E! And thank you!

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