Friday, June 26, 2009

Set-Backs and Tweaking

Yesterday was 3 weeks post-surgery...and I had a bit of a set-back, I suppose you could say. It seemed like this week I felt pretty good in the mornings, then in the afternoons my head would start to hurt. I'd turn on the stimulator but it wasn't helping as much as I hoped. I was starting to get nervous and really disappointed because I thought this stimulator was so great and then it began failing me. So Thursday morning I woke up with the most pain I've had since this thing was implanted...enough pain that I kind of just wanted to stay in bed. So I got out the remote and turned up the juice. It didn't help. Then, being the genius that I am, I remembered that the wire actually crosses the main nerve in my head in 3 places, and that when the Medtronic rep programmed my unit for me, she made it so that I could change where the stimulation is, not just how strong it is. Since she programmed it for me 2 weeks ago, I'd never changed anything but the stimulation strength (they call it "amplitude" in their fancy scientist terms). So I changed it to a different setting and voila, it hit the exact spot where the pain was coming from. It still took about 2 hours for the pain to really go down to an acceptable level for long enough that I was comfortable going into work. But in the afternoon and evening I felt really good. And today I don't even have my stimulator on, so I must have done things right yesterday.

Unfortunately it looks like I have a lot to learn about my stimulator and its capabilities still. I think part of the problem is that I had it stimulating the same area for too long. Sometimes I think this irritates the nerve. When you are over-stimulating, it causes pain, just like a headache but there's also a bit of a different element to the pain, which I'm starting to discover. I hope that someday I will be able to accurately tell the difference between pain and over-stimulation and get the stimulator turned off or switced to a different area before I actually cause myself pain. So I guess there is still a lot of operator error involved and the learning curve is still rather high.

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