With my battery change behind me – a bit of unnecessary “excitement” amid the chaos of COVID19 – this cyborg is now powered by “rechargeable” batteries with a shelf life of up to 15 years. Yes! The much-welcome reprieve until my next battery change surgery is counterbalanced by the daunting reality of weekly charging sessions.
My bedroom has been transformed into a “recharging studio.” Each neurostimulator has its own charging equipment pack that hardly harmonizes with my country decor. Sitting on my nightstand are two black “antenna” devices that look like flattened hockey pucks connected to two “Patient Programmer” remote control units attached to power cables inelegantly draped across the floor.
The recharging process itself is rather cumbersome. To make a love connection,” the antenna device must be placed precisely and securely over the neurostimulator in my chest. I slip into the harness supplied by Medtronic, secure the straps across my chest and around my waist, then drop the antenna into the handy pocket on the harness and look, hopefully, for the suggested eight blackened bars on the patient programmer screen indicating the recharger is fully communicating with my neurostimulator. Absent these bars, I must reposition the antenna by fiddling with the straps.
Time to turn on the TV, find a nice long movie, sit back and try to refrain from moving for one hour until my battery is fully charged. Then, all I have to do is repeat the whole lovely procedure for my other neurostimulator. So far, it’s one side at a time but I’m hopeful I can map out a way to charge both sides simultaneously as patience is not one of my virtues.
CAVEAT: During charging, I look like a suicide bomber with the bold black harness holding the antenna device strapped across my chest and the handy Patient Programmer clutched in my hand. Lesson learned: NEVER, EVER charge in public…I’d frighten the daylights out of everyone around me!
Posted in Health
Tagged Activa neurostimulator, Battery, DBS, DBS therapy, Dystonia, Health, Involuntary movement, Medtronic DBS Therapy, Movement disorder, Neurological disorder, Neurosurgeon, Neurosurgery
Sir Isaac Newton, take note, my Dystonia has served as a vivid example of your 3rd Law of Motion gone haywire: For every [voluntary] action there’s an equal and opposite [involuntary] reaction.
Now that the involuntary kinetic forces generated by my voluntary movements have begun to magically disappear, walking is no longer a contact sport. I feel as if I’ve fallen down a wormhole and emerged into a parallel universe where Newtonian mechanics have drastically simplified. My alternate reality gives me pause as I adjust to my newfound freedom. Who knew walking is as easy as putting one foot in front of the other and telling your legs where to go? Destinations that formerly loomed as remote don’t seem quite so far away.
When I trudged around the city with my walker, I measured distance by the corresponding depletion in my energy and operated on a permanent power outage. Every ounce of my being directed an overwhelmingly focus to the technical details of getting from Point A to Point B…with little thought for my destination – and scant attention to the scenery along the way. Post DBS, my energy quotas have completely transformed. I make my way around my neighborhood with power to spare enjoying the local landscape. Think of me as a bee buzzing along on full throttle as I relish the “conserved” energy I previously expended on the mechanics of walking.
I’m not the only one benefitting from my newfound energy. My puppy is thrilled to have a new training partner. Now she’ll have to learn to keep up with me (lol)!
Posted in Life
Tagged Activa neurostimulator, DBS, DBS therapy, Deep brain stimulation, Dystonia, Gait, Hope, Independently mobile, Involuntary movement, Medtronic DBS Therapy, Mobility, Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai Hospital, Movement disorder, Neurological disorder, Neurosurgery, Optimism, Programming, Walking
Having been a “solo act” for a little over a week, I’m ready to – knock on wood – announce my new status! The occasion of our break-up was simple: in a miraculous burst of post-DBS reality, I came to the realization that my shiny blue walker had outlived his usefulness. At its genesis, our relationship stood a marriage of convenience. My inner stubborn mule protested his attentions – until it became abundantly clear my new friend offered benefits! The rock by my side, he protected me from a precarious loss of balance, carried my packages…and my puppy, and offered a spare seat on a desolate stretch of street.
Now that I’ve left my walker by the wayside, I find myself in a strange new reality. At times, I reach for him as I leave my apartment. After all, over the course of 2+ years, his constant companionship became a force of habit and, I’ll admit, a bit of a safety blanket. Life without him may be strange but it’s neither cold nor empty. Not quite used to navigating the local terrain without my hot wheels, I instinctively head towards ramped walkways when stairs have pleasantly become an option. Mind you, my gait still has its quirks and I entertain an unfounded concern that the full force of my involuntary movements will return.
Now that I’ve gone solo, there’s no turning back. Indeed, in a bizarre psychological conspiracy perpetuated by my feet, my brain and my “ex,” a dalliance with my walker actually makes my Dystonia worse!
Posted in Life
Tagged Activa neurostimulator, DBS, DBS therapy, Dystonia, Independently mobile, Involuntary movement, Medtronic DBS Therapy, Mobility, Movement disorder, Neurological disorder, Stairs, Walker, Walking aid
Last month, I aced my starring role during neurosurgery. Now that my neurostimulators have been powered on, I find myself in a constant state of heightened hyper-awareness of my movements making my body the “star” of every moment.
This new chapter in my DBS saga began at my first programming session. I arrived determined to keep rising expectations at bay. Deftly manipulating her remote control unit, my savvy programmer began to work her magic. She turned the key in the ignition and took each “launch pad” on my electrodes for a test ride in search of signs of rough driving ahead.
Like my oral meds, neurostimulation can exert unwanted “side effects.” Now that all systems are go, I’m perpetually on the lookout for an inimical twist, twitch, jerk, grimace or spasm as I continually search for signs that the electric pulses in my brain are exerting some untoward effect. I struggle to recall the details of my involuntary motions pre-DBS for purposes of comparison but find this to be a futile task thanks to the ever-changing choreography of my Dystonia.
In the meantime, I’m officially electronically enabled. I stand before you a BATTERY emPOWERED FEMALE “humming” strong at 2.5 volts! With my handy remote, I can power myself on and off like a TV set. Plug me into an outlet, and I’ll light up the room!
Posted in Health
Tagged Activa neurostimulator, DBS, DBS therapy, Deep brain stimulation, Dystonia, Involuntary movement, Medtronic, Medtronic DBS Therapy, Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai Hospital, Movement disorder, Neurological disorder, Neurosurgery, Programming
Hollywood’s leading ladies have nothing on me and my starring role in a “surgical trilogy” featuring a brilliant neurosurgeon, his drill, cutting-edge guidance technology, and two electrodes taking a slip into my brain for an ongoing adventure of electrical proportion. Best supporting actor goes to the strong-armed “villain” in this medi-drama, the metal vise that fiercely immobilized me every step of the way. The hero, my Mount Sinai neurosurgeon, cool as a cucumber, assumed command over his troops in the OR. His team took no prisoners, bolting me to the operating table to set the stage for the drilling…but with my neurosurgeon controlling the scene, this dystonia damsel was hardly “in distress!” As for the “awake” part, our tete a tete during surgery was largely surreal as my “leading man” filled my field of vision during our big dramatic moment and I lacked a bird’s-eye view of the surgical scene. I’ve absolutely no recollection of the drilling.
Having considered – and rejected – DBS oh so long ago, I needed a pinch to jolt me into reality as we traipsed about the hospital – vise securely in place – on our way to a pre-op CT-scan. You’ll find my verdict – since overturned – on this site in the article “Promises, Promises.”
With DBS, the waiting is the hard part. Until that all-important first procedure set a bar on my expectations, my overactive imagination embarked on a joy ride over the prospect of two “awake” brain surgeries in the span of one month. For those Dystonia warriors considering DBS, rest assured that the “idea” of these procedures is far more daunting than their reality – especially that fearsome metal vise. After the numbing injections, it’s smooth sailing ahead. If you can handle life with dystonia, you’ve got DBS!
Once the surgeries are completed, this surgical thriller morphs into a tale of suspense. Stay tuned for my BIG MOVIE ENDING, dramatically revealed in 3 to 6 months…
My amazing Mount Sinai neurosurgeon is second to none!
Posted in Health, Life
Tagged Activa neurostimulator, Anxiety, DBS, DBS therapy, Deep brain stimulation, Dystonia, Involuntary movement, Medtronic, Medtronic DBS Therapy, Mount Sinai Hospital, Movement disorder, Neurological disorder, Neurosurgeon, Neurosurgery