It's Not MY Fault, JD Made Me Do It

Yes, I know I said I would finish my last post. And I'm aware I should be finishing that post now. However, through no fault of my own (I'm totally blaming JD), a topic was mentioned that I want to address.

As I was blog surfing, I came to JD's blog, "I Do Things So You Don't Have To". In case you haven't read her blog before, this woman is hi-LAR-ious. Seriously. She is at the top of her comic game, one of my very favorite funny people. I look forward to her posts almost as much as I look forward to the day I can go to the bathroom without an entourage.
Before going any further, you have to read JD's post, "I Get Zapped So You Don't Have To". Personally, I think she should have named the post, "I Found a Fool-Proof Way to Get Any Cat to Pack It's Bags & Hit the Door, So You Don't Have To" - but as usual, I wasn't consulted before publication. (At some point, people will come to realize they should consult me before doing anything...but that hasn't happened just yet. Maybe it's because people see just how awesome my life is - and they just don't want to take away any of my fun and joy.)

The "fun and joy" that is my life.
Go ahead and read it...I'll wait.

Back? Ok, good. I told you she's a total riot.
Reading her post brought up a memory I couldn't help but share with you, which is why I'm delaying part two of my last post, "I Hope I Don't Hack Off Too Many People...". As promised, it will be posted. It's just going to be an extra day. I can't be responsible for the riot that may break out if the kingdom was privy to two juicy posts from the Queen in one day.

Know what I mean, Vern?

I HOWLED at this post...I have mucho experience with portable TENS units...and the fun they can be. However, you have not experienced TRUE fun until you've had a central stim unit implanted.
Align Center
Basically it's the same premise - only it's a unit that is implanted under your skin, with a rather large wire and sixteen electrodes which they "install" in your spinal column.

An example of the sixteen electrodes I have implanted.
Ahhh yes. As if staying awake for that surgery isn't fun enough, the first time you turn it on - which is at home, when you're alone - is even better.

I AM a Bionic Woman

You see, they implant the antennae part under your skin, right at the top of your butt.

You are given a large pager-type device that controls this implanted unit that has now made you the Bionic Woman, and coming off this pager-like unit, is a wire with a flat donut-looking thing that attaches over the antennae with some super-sticky tape.

You put the flat donut-looking thing over the antennae, and away you go. Intense and powerful stimulation occurs in the legs, helping to control pain. (It actually just works to confuse the nerves in your spinal column, so you feel "electric" sensations instead of pain.) Ya with me so far?

Could this post be turning into any more of a medical class??
They temporarily program this thing while you're in the hospital, recovering from the surgery you got to witness, firsthand. You're on some pretty good drugs, your body is swollen where they put this "device", as is your spinal column. If you have as much scar tissue in your spine as I do, the surgery - which is supposed to last 60 to 90 minutes, if I remember correctly - can last up to 6 1/2 HOURS, while they try everything to tunnel through the scar tissue...while not paralyzing you.

Fast forward a few weeks...the surgeon gives me the "go ahead" to turn the stimulator on. I'm a little nervous and put off turning it on. Ok, I admit it. I'm outright scared. What if I turn it on wrong and I electrocute myself to death? I do not want the headline in the paper to read,
"Woman Survives Amazing 6 1/2 Hour Bionic Surgery -
Only to Electrocute Herself with Completely Safe Device"
Not only do I not want that legacy, but having been a paramedic, I know what my own reaction would have been had I shown up on a call to find a patient twitching uncontrollably from something implanted inside them.
The doctor calls to see how turning it on went. I admit to being a chicken. In fact, I'm reveling in my chicken status, totally happy to be ignorant of this experience. I'll take chicken over fried chicken any day.

My kids, always wanting what's in my best interest (aka - always wanting to help me to make a fool out of myself as often as possible - as if I can't manage that totally on my own), keep begging me to turn it on. After several rounds of my polite declining, the oldest tells me that if I don't turn it on myself, he'll just wait til I'm asleep...and turn it on for me. This threat actually scared me. Petrified me. Why? Because there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that, not only would he actually do it, but he would really enjoy it.

Oldest 'beast

So I mustered up my courage (unlike JD, who mustered up her cat), stood up next to my bed, made a stack of pillows to hold on to, and told the oldest 'beast to go ahead and turn it on.

I braced myself, knowing the swelling had gone down significantly since they had programmed the unit. I listened intently for him to turn it on, almost having a coronary when the unit began making a high pitched beeping noise. I had forgotten it did this in order to signal it's on and searching for a signal. After pulling my heart out of my mouth, I relaxed - because I felt nothing. Nadda. Ahhh! The unit was on - and I didn't die of electrocution. My overly-exposed nerves could stop freaking out...and I could stop producing buckets of adrenaline! Phew!

I stopped holding onto the pillows and stood upright. The high pitched beeping stopped, and I was still conscious. I had been chicken for nothing! What was the big deal, anyway? I turned around to tell the oldest 'beast I had been chicken for nothing - that I was totally fine...

Too bad I wasn't real familiar with the unit - or the fact that the beeping only signaled the power and correct placement of the unit. I had forgotten that the user still had to push another button to actually get the stimulation going...

So as I turned to tell him I wasn't going to die, he hit the "right" button. The gal who programmed the stimulator had left the stimulation level on "high"...

More than the reaction of JD's (now permanently nervous) cat, have you ever seen a fish out of water? How they flop around tirelessly, trying to find water? Imagine a 5'11" woman doing that. Just as uncontrollably as the fish. Body jerking this way and that, after going from a fully standing position - to flat-on-the-ground-flopping, in less than one second. The power to this thing was crazy. Crazy intense. It caused my body to immediately, intensely SEIZE. But it also caused another issue...

As I'm flopping around on the floor, flopping uncontrollably, I realize I can't take this amount of stimulation. It's painful. V-v-very p-p-painful. So I begin laughing. Hysterically. Like pee-in-my-pants laughing. And altho the stimulation is intense - and it hurts like *ell, I can't tell him. I'm being obnoxiously tickled to death in the most painful way possible. Thoughts of ripping open my incision are interrupted only with thoughts of trying not to literally wet my pants.
And since he can't see my face, he thinks I'm loving this. He starts laughing - so hard, he can't hear me when I finally get, "s-s-s-s-s-ssss-STOP!!!" out.
Ah yes, the memories. I don't share his opinion of wishing we had gotten the whole thing on video - whether we could have won some serious dough or not.

Just wait til I tell you about all the experiences I've had going into/coming out of stores with those security systems you have to walk through...I've been "dropped" - without warning, all the way to the ground - by several of those in town.
So I'll take JD's TENS unit. I already know how her cat feels.

4 Royal Responses:

One Creative Queen said...

Oh, my gosh. I'm going to delete my "Zapped" post in honor of this one. SO FREAKING FUNNY! God, I could just see you, seizing and laughing and trying to yell "STOP!"

So . . . is it working OK now? I'm curious about these, tho I think the one I have is fine for me (and Pru). Why did your doc suggest this kind as opposed to the external?

I hope you're doing OK with it!

One Creative Queen said...

Oh, Katherine! I don't know if I should laugh or cry for you! I swear...your life sounds so much like mine (minus the bionic woman component!) I hope you have figured out how to make it more comfortable and that it actually works for you.

One Creative Queen said...

@ JD - Don't you dare delete your post! Your post is hysterical! It just really reminded me of my experience with the central stim unit. I have that one "installed" (or implanted, if you aren't convinced it makes you Bionic) b/c I have severe chronic pain. An external TENS unit didn't cut it - and since I had "failed back syndrome" after my fusion, I had to do something. The pain was so bad in my legs that I was losing my mind. Since the TENS didn't touch my pain, and I had a really good result from the trial stim unit, I was wired for action. :)

@ Lisa - It's all good now. It was "installed" back in 2003 or so. I'm used to it and don't give it much thought now - except when I hear funny stories like JD's...or I walk through a security system that suddenly lays me out, flat. The kids and I get the biggest kick out of that - because people don't know what is going on - and we all know I'm fine, just suffered a sudden...ummm..electrocution-like episode. ;) I so think they should rename me...Bionic Murphy would be just fine...since Murphy has left an indentation on my shoulder from sitting there so long! :-D

One Creative Queen said...

I'm glad to hear you're finally getting some relief. For now, the external TENS unit is working pretty well for me -- as long as I take a hefty cocktail of pills with it!

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