Embracing life with chronic pain and illnesses.

Archive for April, 2017

Pain Pump Trial – What to Know

If you are awaiting your opportunity for a pain pump trial, there are a few things that I would strongly recommend you do to prepare yourself for the procedure.

  • Take time to write down any questions you and/or your family members have for any aspect of the procedure or of the pain pump itself.
  • Realize that this procedure will more than likely result in a major Fibro Flare! If like mine, it will be more intense than any experienced to date.
  • Take a shower the day before the procedure! You will have to avoid heat and not be allowed a bath for up to several days (depending upon your doctor’s instructions).
  • Prepare, or better yet, ask a friend to provide dinner for you and your family the evening of the procedure. You will only want to curl up with a blanket to rest or attempt to nap.
  • Resume your medications as soon as you can (or as instructed by your specialist). Do not be discouraged if you are overwhelmed by pain! It will take a day or so for your meds to get your body back under control.
  • Plan on doing nothing the day after. This has been a huge stressor — physically, emotionally, mentally.
  • Understand that no matter how much you have prepared for this opportunity, it will be overwhelming! Whether it is successful or not, you are embarking on a major event…potentially life changing.
  • Your body’s reaction to the trial WILL be black and white. You will either experience some type of relief or there will be no change in your symptoms. (For me, this was great news…the idea of a “clear answer”!)
  • Embrace all offers of help!
  • If successful, you will need patience as your doctor and pain pump manufacturer coordinate for approval via insurance for the pump and the scheduling of the surgery for implantation. (I am told this can take 3-4 weeks to get to the point of scheduling the procedure.)
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Results Are In!

The prep for the pain pump trial was very basic…just required a typical fasting…no food or drink after midnight the day prior. My pain specialist had approved a few sips with one of my meds prior to 6 am to help with the travel to the medical facility where the trial was to take place (a little over an hour drive time away from us).

I was required to have someone drive me and to have someone with me for 24 hours after the procedure. My husband was able to arrange his work schedule around those requirements.

I was very anxious of course! I did not sleep well the night before…as is always the case for me prior to a procedure.

Upon our arrival, I did not have to wait very long. My husband wheeled me back to what would be the area I would return to after the procedure. The nurse reviewed my history, asked the typical allergy to medication questions we are so used to and took my blood pressure. The nurse also placed an IV in my right hand in case I would have a reaction to the medication to be used in the injection.

The Medtronic rep then came to visit with us. We had a good discussion…he asked me questions regarding my knowledge of the upcoming procedure…we spoke about what would happen and rough time frames if the trial is successful…he was very courteous, professional and personable! There was no sense of being rushed…he wanted to make sure that all of our questions were answered.

It was then that I learned that he was my dedicated Sales Rep who would be present for the surgery if the trial was successful. He is also partnered with a clinical specialist. I was very impressed with the company structure and how Medtronic is set up to not only provide a product for those of us who have run out of options for our pain treatments, but to have a dedicated team who is assigned to us to support us…who genuinely cares.

By this time, the single pain med I had been allowed to take was quickly wearing off! I am thankful for the wonderful caring staff of my pain specialist…I could not help but be a bit grumpy!

I was taken back to the procedure/surgical room. I did not have to disrobe…just had to lie face down on the table. My back was then prepped with the typical skin cleanser…then told to expect a pricking sensation from the needle as the selected medication was injected into the epidural space. To be honest, I barely felt the needle or the injection!

I was then taken back to what would be my recovery area. I was very tired of course so I was awoken in about 45 minutes by my pain specialist to ask how I was doing. It was at that moment that I realized that I did not have pain in my feet, my right leg or hips!

Needless to say, it was completely surreal! The pain in my upper body was very present but no pain sensations were present in my lower body!!! As my pain specialist explained, he had placed the injection in the lower spine (picture an epidural) so my lower extremities were targeted. I also did not exhibit any type of adverse reactions from the medication.

We were ecstatic! The trial was going beyond our expectations! I actually walked a short distance using my wheelchair as a walker and felt ONLY the weakness of the lack of muscles in my lower body! It was exhilarating, exciting, unreal…like all birthdays and every Christmas of a lifetime being celebrated at once!

I was kept for four hours after the injection for monitoring. During that time, the nursing staff provided crackers and water to help calm my hungry tummy. They had quite a selection of snacks to choose from, so I was easily able to find something I could snack on that was within my dietary parameters.

At this point, it was just a matter of how long the relief would last. Would it last a handful of hours? Would it last a day?

On the way home, I felt the tell-tell signs that the pain was on its way back. Once home, I felt like had been hit by a Mack truck…then beaten with a baseball bat. Yet no amount of pain, could take away my elation! The pain pump trial had been a huge success!

Now I am awaiting the scheduling of the surgery!

Crescent Moon

The early morning sky takes my breath away.

It Is On! – Pain Pump Trial

For anyone following or reading my past blogs, you know the tremendous disappointment that I have been through in trying to get a pain pump trial approved. Thanks to a very dedicated pain specialist and his staff, I will finally have this opportunity!

This coming Tuesday, April 25, I will have the pain pump trial! My pain specialist will inject the medication he has selected into my spine to see if it will help! The good news is that I have been told that I will know right away if it will make a difference or not.

Prep is the usual request…no eating or drinking after midnight the night before. I will be allowed to take one of my pain meds in the morning to ease my discomfort for the trip as we will have to travel about an hour to the location of the procedure.

Once the injection is done, we will remain for about 3-4 hours for observation. Then I will be released to come home, where I am to have someone with me for the next 24 hours.

I have been told that the injection can last from a few hours to a couple of days. Of course, each person reacts differently. Again, I am excited that it should be easy to tell if it is going to work or not.

So far my body has cooperated…I have not had any infections, no head colds…any of which would have forced us to reschedule.

I will write more about the procedure and its results next week!

Stillness Broken

The early morning stillness broken by the flight of a hawk.

The Early Morning Moon

IMG_7445

The beauty of the early morning sky!  Good Morning, Moon!

An Example

As you know, 2017 has been off to an extremely rough start for me. This morning, however, proved to be a great example of how my life has changed because of Fibromyalgia/Polyarthralgia/Chronic Pain Disorder/Neuralgia.

If you saw me this morning, struggling to walk a short distance in the yard, you would never guess that at one point in my life I was running 7-10 miles in a day! Instead, you would have seen someone struggling to lift her right leg…moving awkwardly with jerky motions….pausing for rest…an intense grimace on her face.

I did manage to make it back into the house to my chair…there will not be another “outing” for me today. I am dizzy and very out of it.

Do not feel sorry for me! Just know that I may look “great” on the outside; however, that is FAR from the real truth!

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