DBS Journal: Taking Stock

Skyline at dusk, 11/15/09

Skyline at dusk, 11/15/09

As the anesthesia wears off, I’m finding it slightly easier to talk and form sentences. It can be deceptive – you think you are feeling fine, but then try to talk and everything comes out jumbled, stammering and lacking syntax.

As of right now, I can’t really complain about anything. My energy level is great. I have some pain, but it is manageable. If it wasn’t for the complication, I’d probably be ready to head back to the gym. I know I shouldn’t. Maybe the complication is a good thing, by forcing me to slow down and relax for a week or so.

I’m not experiencing tremendous pain, thank goodness, but the aches and other feelings are becoming more specific. When it gets to be a little too much, I can take a Percoset. There are four areas that we have to watch out for.

At the drilling site on my skull, there isn’t much happening. There is a large bandage in place there, and an occasional ache. The lead inside the brain is just there. It doesn’t cause any problems, because the brain itself has no pain receptors.

I can definitely feel the extension that is tunneled under the skin on the left side of my head—just a bit of a tug, to remind me it’s there. I can feel the wire near the pulse generator when I move my head through the range of motion. Sometimes this area aches and throbs.

The pulse generator is placed just below my left collarbone, and it only hurts when I move it. When our friend Sally moved in for the god-bye hug, she accidentally put her shoulder into the unit. That hurt. But it went away quickly.

Then there is the site of the complication, where the doctors inserted a Foley catheter only to discover some old scarring that they had to push through. As recently as Saturday afternoon, there was bleeding at the tip of the urethra, around the catheter. Yikes!

But it seems to be getting better, faster. For the first time since the surgery, I’m actually feeling comfortable down there. Suzanne went to the Gap to get me some looser-fitting pants and knit boxers, the better to handle the tubing and leg-mounted bag that I’ll be wearing for (augh!) another week.

The complication is tough luck. Why they couldn’t just hand me a jug, I don’t know. Even if I ended up breaking the sterile field, the violation would have been far less than the soaking that apparently occurred when the anesthesiologists put me out at the first sign of trouble. I was still damp after my second stretcher transfer, following the second MRI. Alterman’s PA said that was the second time he’d seen this problem in 20 years. Like I said, just my luck.

DBS Journal: Saturday Night

I’m back at hotel now, more than a day after the surgery. I think it was a success, by all measures. One measure is the moment of truth, the instant at which you realize the lead is actually working. Another is post-surgery, when  you realize you didn’t have a stroke. I had all these moments and more. I look forward to writing them up.

Thank you, thank you for all the kind words. I’m glad you can share in my joy at finally getting relief from the tremor (and more). I’ll write more later.

DBS Journal: Admission Day

We’ve received so much support, and so many e-mails, heading into this big day. It is simply awesome to have so many cheerleaders. It eases the anxiety, which is only just now starting to mount for me. (I was wondering when that might happen — I’ve been a little worried about the lack of tension.)

We had a fine breakfast with one of my college roommates this morning at Sarabeth’s. It was terrific catching up on all that we’ve missed in recent years. Had a similar phone call from another college friend, easily 20 years since we had last spoken. FaceBook has been a great re-discovery tool. I look forward to catching up with many more of you.

At some point this afternoon, I’ll get the call summoning me to admissions. It’s likely that I won’t be posting again until I’m discharged Saturday. But I will be teaching my travel companions how to send an update e-mail in my absence. I look forward to this procedure being over, and to sharing the experience here when I’m recovered sufficiently.

Off to the gym now for a workout. Bye-bye, for now.

DBS Journal: A Good Night

Despite all of the ethnic food around us in Yorkville — Argentine pizza? — the choice was left to me, and I opted for red meat. Had a great steak at Parlor. Tom again performed beyond the call of duty by picking up the tab. Time to catch up on sleep but I ate a lot, and have to stay up a while before I take the last round of meds. I can’t wait until I can eat without regard to the clock.

Tomorrow is a little bit up in the air. We’re expecting a call from the admissions folks at the hospital, but we don’t know when exactly it will come. Maybe early afternoon, maybe evening, it depends on when rooms become available.

DBS Journal: Arrival in NYC

The Dartmouth Coach bus brought us to Grand Central 10 minutes early; we had time to shuck some bags at the hotel and to grab some lunch before hoofing it to the office of Ron Alterman, the neurosurgeon. The meeting took all of about 20 minutes, mostly a chance for us to ask questions. It was mostly details for me, such as will I be awake when they drill the hole? (A: Yes, but it takes only 30 seconds, and I’ll have a sponge in my mouth to absorb the vibrations. As the Brits would say, Right!)

Insurance questions arose yesterday out of the blue, but Alterman’s assistant, Yvonne, took care of it — and I pity the fool that pissed her off! “That should never have gone to the patient! I’m going to call her on that!”

We’re staying at a Courtyard hotel in a neighborhood, Yorkville, that I’ve never explored before. It’s nice — more relaxed than midtown, lots of potential eateries over on Third Avenue. Tom arrived successfully with the minivan and the baggage, and because I’m getting into the red zone for eating and drinking certain things, it is now time to get a drink or two (and dinner).

Countdown: Two Days

I’ve been told that there will be a point where time will crawl. Hasn’t happened yet. We leave tomorrow morning, and I’m not very anxious or tense. That might change by Friday, when I’m introduced to the halo and a catheter. But so far, I’m good.

Life Without Meds, Part 4

This latest experiment ended Sunday at 12:05 pm, when we finished up doing a video based on the UPDRS section for motor examination — finger tapping, heel stomping, that kind of stuff. I had figured that I would have been worse off in terms of symptoms than during last week’s attempts. However, if I factor out for sleep, my amount of fully conscious “off meds” time was nearly equivalent, at roughly 5.5 hours.

The impact for me was far more obvious in terms of mood and cognition. My voice softened; my tension rose, as did my impatience. Also obvious is the benefit of all the exercise. As the meds wore off, my posture started pulling forward, head forward and chin out. I self-corrected quickly, but the tension drawing me forward with stooped shoulders was rather strong.

Big Plastics v. Consumers on BPA exposure

A chemical that’s been shown to be a factor in all sorts of serious conditions, including cancer, is found in 92 percent of the population. More than 200 studies have implicated the chemicals, called BPAs. Industry defenders point to questions in a handful of rodent studies, and that is the evidence that the FDA has been relying on in not banning the chemical.

Read more: Something Scary in the Pantry – NYTimes.com.