It has been over a week since I last posted and during that time our household has been hit by a variety of ailments from migraine to ladies’ problems to chest infections. The youngest is into her second week of half term – 2 weeks! I remember only getting 2 days for one of our half term breaks – the middle started his half term with a trip to Comic Con London – grown people running around dressed as comic book characters! – and I believe that our student is on a project week before reading week next week. Reading week indeed – the university term only started at the beginning of the month.
The last week has been a bit bumpy for me. I can safely report that the stimulator doesn’t help certain pains of a female variety, but I already knew that these symptoms exacerbate my back pain and so I spent a couple of miserable days at the end of last week. It was probably rather ambitious to imagine at the beginning of the week that I would be able to attend governance meetings on consecutive nights – but I did manage the first one. I won’t lie – it was a struggle. Sitting for several hours in an upright seat and trying to concentrate and participate was much harder than I had anticipated, but I consoled myself that I was only just over 3 weeks post op. But I really wasn’t well enough to attend the training with my own governing body the following night – I’m really sorry that I probably picked the wrong session, fellow govs!
As I become more mobile again, I am having to learn how I need to use the stimulator to best help me. The change in weather is always a problem for most chronic pain sufferers and is also a problem for those with added joint issues like myself. I know that I have already posted that the level of stimulation has changed since the permanent implant, and I am probably a bit paranoid about increasing the voltage level. When you have taken a mixture of strong medication for years, and you have been trained in pain control in a previous life, it is very hard to lose the mentality that says your body becomes tolerant and therefore requires more and more for the same level of relief. Of course in the case of opiates this is true to an extent, but please don’t be mistaken for this being the same as addiction – as hospice nurses we struggled every day with the false belief that it is better for someone in pain to resist drugs as they may cause addiction. In the majority of cases all the time an individual has pain, the correct analgesic will be used by the body like a key in a lock to fit the pain receptors and thus inhibit them. Finding the correct key for the lock is not always quite so easy…. Of course this does happen to a degree with the stimulation and thus with the low frequency stimulator that I have, the hospital instructs patients not to use it continuously in order to avoid creating a new “norm”. Does this make sense?
I managed a dog walk at the weekend with Duncan and am happy to report that I was far more comfortable with the stimulation switched on. My mobility and stamina remains hampered by the pain and stiffness at the fusion site, but it is great to be able to have some control over the leg pain. I am still playing with levels in order to sufficiently cover my foot – I might just have to make do with a nice, new pair of boots!! Saturday afternoon provided a perfect opportunity to sit down and recharge my battery in front of the first semi final of the rugby world cup. Not sure I’ll ever get used to saying I need to charge myself up, and I must stop talking about being “turned on” or “off” as the former has produced some very quizzical looks……..
Time for a photo op – no, not related to that last comment!! – I had let the battery run down to 50% as instructed and the charger had already been powered by the mains.
The above pictures show the positioning of the paddle over my stimulator and the charger – the paddle is very reminiscent of the paddles on the defibrillator that used to be on resuscitation trolleys, although it doesn’t deliver such a hefty charge!
The charger is showing:
top row: my stimulator turned off, the volume, my battery at the half full mark
middle row: the paddle making contact with my stimulator,
bottom row: the level of connectivity between the paddle and my stimulator, in this case it is poor with only 2 boxes filled out of 8.
The charger is now showing full connectivity between the paddle and the battery as all 8 boxes are filled in. Whilst in theory it is possible to be ambulant whilst the charger is strapped to your back, in practice I would say that the level of connectivity is quite positional and thus use the couple of hours it takes to watch a film, read or watch the rugby!! It was a great match.
A gaggle of girls has just arrived home after a day out in Brighton, so time to put the pizza in the oven and prepare for a very giggly sleep over.