So I made it to the pain clinic in one piece – just! The body work did its utmost to stop me and it was probably the furthest that I have travelled in my motability chariot (in time – it was rush hour travelling into London, you understand!) – so our arrival at St Thomas’ was surrounded by a cacophony of feelings in back, hips and thighs, with the right hip spluttering the loudest.
Fortunately parking is never an issue because the carpark is so blooming expensive – but, any blue badge pals out there – did you know that at St Thomas’ you are able to park for free if you show your appointment letter and you actual blue badge to PALS. At Guys you can also park for free in the NCP carpark along the road by presenting your letter, NCP ticket and blue badge to security before you leave. Might have saved someone a small fortune there! What was an issue was getting into a lift from the basement to the ground floor – I mean, come on people, I am not sitting a wheelchair because I am feeling a bit tired. I can’t actually climb the stairs!!
The engine revived with caffeine and banana, we checked in to the pain clinic which faces directly opposite Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament – currently shrouded in scaffold. I always forget just what a wind tunnel is created along this stretch of the Thames and Wednesday morning was no exception – good job I was using my wheels because the icy gusts would have tackled me easily. As predicted the CNS was surprised and concerned when she saw me, but once I reassured her that the bodywork changes before her are down to the dreaded stretchy body parts, she went about checking the pain levels. I am pleased to report that once her little box of tricks “spoke” to my implanted little box of “tricks”, it was established that my switching on and off, general usage of the stimulator and recharging is all scoring full marks! Hurray.
Next the tricky part. Any chance of a retune? This was no problem and the external box turned off and then turned back on the internal box…..jump starting the battery back to life and automatically altering the sensation. The biggest difference is the feeling in the sole of my foot – it is difficult to describe, but the electrical pulses feel more rapid and “wider”. The pathway of the pain through my foot is so specific that I could draw it for you to see, so the area that needs to be covered by the neurostimulation is very specific and so very specific electrodes in the lead on the spinal cord need to be active. But how about getting some of that lovely electrical stimulation that knocks out the way my dodgy wiring sends perceived pain to my nerve centre – my brain – into my right hip and thigh??
Of course the proper response is that nothing can be altered for pains that haven’t been investigated – it wouldn’t be good to mask pain that is due to injury or a new illness. But of course in this case one bendy chassis is causing wear and tear on the bearings and axles, putting the tracking off massively. The biggest concern had to be keeping the pain coverage in my right side to the same level – it would be awful to lose the fantastic coverage i have. But with a little tweaking she managed to give me a little sensation in my hip and if I lean back into the chair (or better still lie down onto the electrodes) the strength of the stimulation increases. It doesn’t get rid of the pain or even mask it in the same way that it masks the nerve pain, but any little bit of relief this rust bucket will take!
So the bodywork may not have been replaced by a shiny, sleek sports model, but with a bit of fine tuning it is slightly more comfortable. (BTW the beach buggy above was Dunc’s first car, and whilst sparkly, not very comfortable!). Thanks for all the good wishes – really appreciated. Now I’m off to recharge my battery for a new week…..and in this case I assure you I am being literal, not metaphorical. Should take me a couple of hours to complete!
(BTW: any St Thomas’ pain/input patients out there – the booking system was changed last year and the nurses are no longer allowed to book our appointments. But since central bookings has taken over, quite a few of us have slipped through the net – hence why I had no appointment last year. If you have a problem call them or email the nurses at their catchy new address: