Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Damage Assessment

Here it is...pictures of the damage. Today is day 12 after my surgery. My staples were removed from my head, which hurt, but not terribly. Just about as much as you'd think getting staples removed from your head would hurt! I also got the bandage taken off my chest incision (where the battery is). Turns out there aren't any stitches there to remove. He put in some internal stitches and then just used surgical glue so I think it will heal up nicely.

So here you go...the debut of my bare chest on the internet!

Obviously that's where the battery is on my right. It's still bruised and a bit swollen but it really is feeling better every day. I'll take another photo in a couple weeks to show you how it's healing up. Look up on my neck as well. There is a little bump on each side. The one of the right (my right) is kind of high, the one on the left is low. That is where the wire extenders are. There will always be bumps there, because the extenders do stick up a little, but they should get less red and obvious over time. There were little incisions there (no stitches, just glue) but you'll barely be able to see them I'm sure.

Here's another one...a profile shot to show you how the battery sticks out.

I think this picture makes it look worse than it is...but maybe not. It's still a bit swollen and whatnot, but not too much. So yes, you can see it if you look from the side, but you can't see the outline of it or anything from the front. Also, you can't see the bump through clothing or anything like that. I think it'll feel more obvious than it actually is. I'm making sure to keep scar ointment on the scars to help them heal and be less obvious. I know they'll never disappear but I'm sure it won't hurt to minimize them.

So...I don't have much of a swimsuit body anymore, although to be honest, I'm not sure I had one before! And I'll have to chose fancy dresses a bit more carefully in the future to try to de-accentuate (is that a word? I doubt it) the scars and bumps. But it's all worth it. I feel so much better. I don't feel like just laying in bed anymore, I feel like going out and doing things again. I feel like going back to work, having a regular schedule, being a productive member of society again. I feel like riding my horses and going camping. Heck, I even feel like having a drink! I'm not scared of that sending me to bed for the next 3 days. So scars and all, life is good.

I also got the okay from the doctor to go home today! WOOHOO! So I'm headed back to Wyoming at the end of the week, and will be back at work on Monday. It's been 14 weeks now that I've been away (15 by the time I actually really get home) and I am SO glad to be done with all this and get on with my life. The last few months have been a struggle but what is it "they" always say (actually I think it was Thomas Jefferson but whatever)? "Anything worth having is worth fighting for." I've fought for my health and now I have it. Or maybe "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" fits a little better. Eh, you know what I mean!


  1. Hi Banner. I am glad you have found relief. I am interested in knowing more about your headaches. I'm sure after 13 years you are probably tired of describing the type of pain. I am female age 32 and suffered from mild headaches less than a handfull of times a year until last August when I began to have a dull achy headache that never went away (NEVER) and it is punctuated by pulses. Sometimes they are several times a minute or just a few a day or once every couple of days. These pulses bring me to zombie mode. I forget what I was saying if I was talking, feel like I'll puke/pass out, feel like all the nerves in my head/scalp are stiff, my hair even feels like it hurts, etc. I have hypothesized a thousand reasons, seen 4 GPs, 3 neurologists had multiple MRI and CT scans that are all "normal" blood tests are normal, ... anyways I have tried many of the solutions you have including having 6 teeth pulled and considered some others. I have severe adverse reactions to meds like topomax, verapamil, maxalt and even NSAIDs hurt my stomach so much. Inderall(a high blood pressure med, even though I have always had perfect BP) seems to bring the pain down a bit if I take it every day but my BP is low and I feel like a dinosaur. Acupuncture seemed to really help a lot but it's not a solution. I occasionally have pea/marble size bumps under the skin to the sides of my spine at the hairline and seem to notice them more when the pain is worse. What other symptoms did you have with your headache? Does this sound familiar? I am at a loss and can not imagine dealing with this much longer, I started the thinking process about being better off dead back in November/ December. My docs have seemed to be retarded and helpless and no better than a drug dealer on the street pushing these crappy pills on me. I have spent endless hours searching and researching and this is only the second time I have come across nerve stimulation info. The other time was for treatment of trigemenal neuralgia. Anyways I am sorry to ramble on. I am frustrated and I get worked up when I have to deal with this subject but it is gret to see someone follow through on updates with treatment. Keep blogging!

  2. Hi,
    Can you tell me which doctor you worked with on this? Was it Elborno or Suwan? I would like to send my sister there for the stim trial.
    Thanks also SO much for sharing your story. Finding relief to this kind of pain is/would be unbelievable!

  3. Nicole...sorry it took me so long to respond...I was traveling home over the last few days.

    Your pain doesn't sounds exactly similar to mine...mine was a very sharp constant pain BUT it sounds like you've gone through most of the stuff that I have gone through. Just because your pain is different doesn't mean nerve stimulation wouldn't work for you. So yours pulses, mine is sharp? It shouldn't matter, I wouldn't think.

    My suggestion would be to try to find a pain specialist or neurologist that does nerve blocks. If you get them done, and they relieve your pain, that might be a good solution. One injection lasts up to 6 months for some people. If it doesn't last, but does at least give you some initial relief (like mine only lasted a week), then you may be a good candidate for nerve stimulation.

    I understand your frustration about doctors...they truly don't understand headaches and how to treat them without throwing drugs at you. That was my biggest struggle over the years by far. I don't have a good tip for finding a good one except keep trying! I know that's not helpful but I've been to headaches specialists that were crap and didn't do anything more than the GPs or neuros I went to. You just have to take charge and tell yourself you WILL find a solution. I know that sounds preachy but it really is the truth.

    I'm sorry you suffer so much. it's a horrible way to live.

  4. Anonymous--Sorry I took so long to respond...I was traveling back home during the last few days.

    Dr. Suwan is who I saw initially. She did the nerve blocks and helped me come up with the idea for the nerve stimulator.

    Dr. Elborno is the one who did the actual surgery. They are associates...work out of the same office.

    You may be able to skip over seeing Dr. Suwan and just see Dr. Elborno, as I imagine he can do much of the same as what she can but remember that his interest is in surgery...which always make me a little wary. You never know if a surgeon is going to push for surgery when there may be a better, less invasive procedure available. That's why I sent to Dr. Suwan first.

    That's not to say Dr. Elborno is not an excellent surgeon...he is. He does some amazing things and has a credentials list a mile long.

    Good luck to you and your sister. If you have any questions, please let me know and I will do my best to answer them.

  5. Feeling any better? Do you have pics of the back of your neck?

  6. There really isn't anything to show on the back of my neck. They didn't do anything back there. The wires go in on the sides of my head, above my ears, then they are tunnelled down the sides of my neck and across my chest to the battery.