Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Emmo-the-Cyborg, Take Two

Apologies in advance for the rambling nature of this post... As many of you know, I went in to have new-and-improved cyborg parts installed on Thursday.
(Above is the totally-awesome card that one of my totally-awesome friends sent me for the occasion...) This was a fairly invasive surgery, so they ended up keeping me in the hospital until the next afternoon. I got to the recovery room at around 1:45pm and was fairly coherent by 3pm, but it was 9pm before they actually found me a room. Thus, I spent 7 hours sitting in the recovery room in lots of pain with absolutely nothing (aside from the occasional addition of something pleasant to my IV) to distract me from my discomfort. On the patient board we rolled past as we went to my room I saw myself listed, and next to my name: "Time Waiting: 437 minutes." Awesome. Those first 24 hours following surgery were pretty brutal, but I got through it with a little help from my friend, Percocet...
My back is doing infinitely better now. (I guess the good thing about a couple days of excruciating pain is that other pain doesn't seem so bad afterward...) I've been able to go out a couple times, including for football-watching on Sunday, but really can't handle being away from my comfy bed/chair and my pain meds for extended periods of time yet. I went in to get my ass reprogrammed on Monday morning, at which point I discovered that my new cyborg parts are vastly superior to my old ones. Because there are three connected wire leads instead of just one, the guy who programs me has a lot more control, and I even can control the balance between sides with my remote. I also learned how to recharge my ass last night, and took care of that. In case you haven't seen, this is what the thing looks like, essentially:
They re-used my two old incisions, and added a new one (which they kept saying was so very tiny, but which is totally 3 inches long, so whatever...) to get direct access to my spine to place the lead in the exact right spot. Apparently the surgery went about as well as one could possibly hope for, and everyone is very impressed with how lovely my incisions are... (Well, medical professionals think they're lovely... Lay people mostly think they're pretty gnarly...) The one point that you probably care most about and that I am most actively avoiding is whether or not this thing works... and the answer is that I'm not really sure yet. The failure of the last one was pretty soul-crushingly depressing, so I'm trying to stay very much on the "cautiously" side of "cautiously optimistic" this time... but, so far, things look promising. I went to Costco with my mom yesterday, and decided to forgo the cart that I usually need in order to get around (because the floors at Costco are made out of evil).
We were there for a good chunk of time, standing and walking on those evil floors, and I was... fine. That's pretty amazing if you know what Costco usually does to my ankles, but I still feel like it's too soon to get excited. We're going to take me out for a more strenuous test run today and see how my ankles hold up going for a walk... but I guess so far I feel comfortable saying that early indications are promising, and that I'll keep you posted.


Unknown said...

ugh! I'm sick and just read your post and had to lie down for a minute! My mom thinks its funny that medical stuff makes me woozy, but it usually doesn't make me THAT woozy!

hope it works really really well!

emmo said...

@Midge: My ass charger is actually pretty cool. You plug in this thing that fits in your pocket, then once it charges you can unplug it and walk around while charging your ass. (I was scared I would have to sit in one spot for the whole time...)

@Maggie: Was it the diagram or all the incision talk that got you? I'm going to have to agree with your mom that you're a bit of a weirdo... But then, I guess we already knew that... =)

Unknown said...

Hey Emily,

I really feel for you as a chronic pain patient and Maggie forwarded me to your blog. This is really interesting, I had heard of a similar implant at an convention for EhlersDanlos Syndrome years ago. My doc said he won't consider it yet for me, i guess my pain isn't localized enough. I'm glad to know another bionic woman, you are much more than I now. Please keep me informed of your progress. It gives me some hope that someday I might be able to not hurt, at least as much as I do now. Thanks for being a guinea pig!! If you need someone to talk or vent to who understands, holler at me! Take care.

emmo said...

Hey Iris,

I may take you up on that... =) I know I've been pretty lucky (as far as people with constant pain can be considered lucky) in that the pain is very localized and didn't spread over time... and also to have amazing insurance that has fully covered $250K in procedures for this pre-existing condition.

Drop me an e-mail some time so I have your address, and I'll definitely keep in touch.