Off the Table

Warning: This post contains pictures that may be disturbing to some people

Normally, I might offer the above warning in one of my failed attempts at humor. I was thinking if I was trying to be funny, I might attach the warning to something like a photo of me walking around the house without my shirt on. But that isn’t the case; there are a couple of photos below that might not be for the faint of heart. It is a sincere warning.

I am including some photos of my surgery in this blog post because I promised a few people I would do so, and because it might help communicate how beneficial photoremedy (using photography to move your mind from an over focus on ailments) has been for me in helping combat my health issues. The idea I’m trying to communicate is that if photoremedy can help someone who is willing to go through what I did this week, then perhaps maybe it can help you, or a family member, or a friend.

I was awake for nearly all of the approximately 200 minute procedure, but I was not able to see just how involved the surgery was. For those considering neurostimulators, do not let the photo below scare you. They gave me really good meds.  There was little to no pain involved and you need to be awake to help them best direct the placement of the electrodes. As those who know me might expect, I even thought I had some of my best stand up lines going while they were doing this.  The key word is “thought.”

All photos courtesy of Matt Mundus, St. Jude Medical – Neurostimulation

The electrodes are readily apparent in the x-ray photos

I am a long ways from a final determination of how much elevation I will get from having two neurostimulators implanted under the skin on my backside and 32 electrodes running up and down my spine, but here’s my initial read on how the surgery went.

The two implants are already producing encouraging results. The severe pain I have lived with for some time in my right arm and left leg has certainly declined. My toes–which more often than not have felt like a UFC fighter stomped on them before smashing them with a super sized sledgehammer–have been completely free of pain ever since the surgery. The toe pain was a result of nerve damage I suffered when I broke a vertebrae and wore away a disc or two in my lower back. Two major lumber surgeries did not result in any major pain level reduction or increase in the function of my left leg. It did, however, leave me with titanium screws and rods.

Scar tissue and small nerve roots in some locations are preventing (currently) significant impact in a couple of key areas. I will have more device programming sessions, so we’ll work on changing that. I’ve been told the neurostimulators will likely not lesson the psoriatic arthritis impact, so I will likely need to continue with treatment I have employed in the past. There is also some question about restoring the dexterity in my right hand, and it is still killing me to type for more than a few minutes at a time. I put together this post, for example, bit by bit.

The “stab wounds” in the back are quite painful, but that should pass. When it takes (as the doctor’s told me) “hundreds of stitches” to anchor everything in place and close up the incisions, one shouldn’t expect to run a marathon the next day.

All in all, I’m extremely encouraged at this early juncture. Plus, the 23 pounds I’ve lost since the week before Thanksgiving will also help put a bigger bounce in my step! I’m supposed to be extremely inactive for 6-12 weeks, so I’ll have to lay off beer and chips if I want to lose any more weight. Since I tend to prefer a red wine here and a vodka there, the beer should be relatively easy to avoid. But, darn it, I love my chips!

I hope to get back to pursuing more photoremedy and posting pictures soon, but I will try to occasionally update readers on my “cyborg” progress. So many people have been so kind with prayers and well wishes – thank you all. I am so thankful for such a caring family and so many fabulous friends.

I am also incredibly thankful for the team of skilled health care professionals–doctors, nurses, technicians, physical therapists, and others–who have worked so hard at helping me win this battle.

Our blessings are many, and life is good!

9 thoughts on “Off the Table

  1. Greg ~~ So glad things went well. Sounds like what they did with Max’s brain. 2 holes in the top of his head and electrodes down through the brain to the brain stem. He also was not put ‘out’ so that he could respond and he goes every 6 months or so for a tune up. Praying that yours will be as much improvement as his has been. Amazing isn’t it?! Love to all, Darlene

    • Thanks, Aunt Darlene. The success Uncle Bill (Max) had with his surgery definitely played a role in our decision to take this big step. Mary kept saying, “You know that’s the technology that helped eliminate Uncle Bill’s tremors.” By Uncle Bill sharing his story, he helped others. I hope to do the same! Love ya, Greg

  2. Also very happy that your surgery went so well. I would imagine that with all the pain you were having that any relief is more than welcome. We pray you continue to get better…and enjoy those sips of wine:)

  3. Greg~
    So happy to hear that you’re seeing and feeling relief after your surgery. I will continue to pray for your continual healing. Have you thought about vegetable chips! 😉 Best of Health to you.

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