Friday, January 31, 2014

Temporary Pets and Shiny Objects

Obviously, I haven't been around much since the SCS stuff all got into full swing. At first it was basic exhaustion, then, well, honestly? I got out of the habit of posting. Anyways, I figured I'd share some of the crazy fun I've been having while hiding from The Cold. (Seriously, we spent multiple days this month colder than the friendly state of Alaska.... I live below the Mason-Dixon line. That sort of cold ought to be illegal.)

First off, a friend wound up living here for a few weeks, along with her hysterical cat, Annabelle. Belle appears to have forgotten How to Cat somewhere along the way. Why, we don't know- she grew up with a litter then was adopted with her sister, so the silly dog behaviors are just fun. She plays fetch. She also loves to sit on peoples heads and watch TV. Like I said, silly cat. A standard day in the life with Ms Annabelle around went a bit like this:

"This is my toy. No, I will not share right now, but I will stare you down."

"I have brought you my kill. Now I must stare at it to make sure it's dead."

"It's been 2 seconds- why haven't you thrown the octopus yet?!"

In between being owned temporarily by a cat, I made an awesome discovery- I can spin again!! On my wheel!!!!!! Yes, that requires that many exclamation marks. My fabulous Lendrum DT spinning wheel has been languishing for the last 2 years, since my RSD/CRPS flared completely out of control. The foot and leg motions needed to use it were horribly painful. In  the 2 years before the SCS surgery, I managed to turn a mere 1oz of fiber into yarn. That's about 20 yards, for what it's worth. You can't even knit half a fingerless glove with that amount. Since the SCS was implanted? I can crank it up, drown out the pain, and treadle for hours. In 3 days I managed to spin 4oz of alpaca roving and 1oz of a baby camel/mulberry silk blend. (And yes, fiber counts as "shiny", as shiny applies to all things good and awesome.)

The alpaca:

Part of the camel/silk (I'm now up to 1.5 spun of this):

Ms Annabelle disapproved of the spinning, and instead felt I should stop moving my legs so she could rest there while I adored her.

This is so much FUN. I'd almost forgotten how easy it is to loose yourself in a bag of fiber for hours on end. I feel like this surgery has given me a part of myself back. Still no way of knowing how much mobility I'll really regain, but if I get back just this one thing? The entire surgery was worth it. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

I'm officially a robot! Part II

... and, continuing onward...

Of course, becoming a robot means I need a way to program myself. So I now have a handy dandy remote. The remote about the size of one of those old rectangular brick cell phones, the ones that were all the rage before flip phones hit the market big time. I have 3 programs on mine, Smooth, Thumpy, and Massage. My trial unit had a 4th option, but I never used it, so it's not on my permanent unit. The remote does show the battery life on both the remote batteries and the stimulator batteries, which is completely awesome.

I've had 1 check up, about 3 days post-op. Basically, they wanted to make sure the stimulation still felt good (it does!), that my incisions looked good (they did), to remove the bandages, and check my programming. I've been feeling the paresthesia in my stomach a good bit, and it can, and occasionally does, make me nauseous, so the Boston Scientific rep came in and tweaked my programming some. He backed down the intensity in some ares and upped it in others. I still get the occasional upset stomach, but I can now get meds in me and turn off my stim for a few minutes to combat it. Before I was heading straight to vomiting. At the check up, I also got to see the fluoroscope images from my surgery after the wires were put in. I love that on the right hand side of the image, you can make out the circular sections of the discs. On the left is the boney protrusions off the back of the spine. And right between the two sections, you can see my nifty new, permanent, wires.

The incisions don't look half bad, either, under all the Steri-Strips. (Steri-Strips are a product used here in the US to cover large wounds, especially surgical wounds, after things like stitches or staples are no longer needed. They give your skin a bit of a boost, but less than things like staples/stitches, and fall off on their own in 3-10 days.

Weirdest part of it all, though? Not only can you see/feel the outline of the brains of the unit, you can see the wires under my skin as faint grey lines. If you look carefully, they form a large U shape under my incision. VERY odd to look at. It was more obvious the first few days due to swelling.

All in all, so far, I'm happy with the choice I made. My pain in my legs is between a 4 and 5 most of the day, instead of  the 6 to 8 range. I didn't get down to 4 hardly ever before Robot Day, so I'm hopeful. Now, to heal enough that I can try physical therapy and walking! My post-op pain is diminishing rapidly, my abilities are already on the upswing (I can bend my knees further when standing and bear more weight when walking), and I'm excited to see where things go from here.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I am now officially a Robot! Part I

Or Cyborg, take your pick. My uncle keeps insisting cyborg is more accurate, so of course, I'm sticking to using Robot just to annoy him. This is the only logical pathway when family is involved.

Surgery was about a week ago, on Dec 27th. The hospital was amazing. They dealt with my panic attacks extremely well. They made sure I was kept in the loop before hand, that I got to speak with everyone as I requested, they even offered to give me my versed (anesthesia that causes memory loss afterwards) dose about an hour before surgery to knock me out. I wound up choosing to wait a little bit to get my versed so I'd be sober when speaking with the doctor. The surgeon gave me some input on where to locate the brains of the unit, I chose my back above the waist. The butt cheek is a much more common location, but I didn't want to be sitting on the unit in case it winds up being sensitive. Sensitivity at the implantation site is not uncommon, especially for the first few months. They also usually locate the units on the right hand side, but I chose the left to keep it away from the hardware in my femur. 

The rep from Boston Scientific was there the day of surgery and came to visit me beforehand. He assured me my new unit was fully charged, then took it out of the box and showed my exact unit to me less than 40 minutes before it entered my body. It was, of course, still hermetically sealed, but still neat to see through all the layers of plastic. 

I'm told I make blue hair nets look fashionable. Also that I'm remarkably calm pre-op, despite the whole panic attack thing going on. (My vital signs gave me away, but I am proud to say I kept the hysteria to a minimum.)

Post-op, the awesome people at J Hospital hooked me up with paper tape bandages. They were awesome! I tend to itch like a crazy person under plastic bandages like Tegaderms, so I really appreciated them finding me an alternative. 

I wrote this whole post, then realized it had become extremely long. So I'm posting half tonight, and half tomorrow.