Some quick words on surgery #2

I’m not at my best when I’m taking large volumes of Percoset, but I did want to check in with a few notes about the DBS experience this time around.

We’re back at the hotel on this cold Sunday, having been discharged yesteday. The second DBS procedure was a success, despite some issues with the placement of the recording electrode (this is a device that aids in placement of the lead, which is the part that is permanently implanted in the brain; it detects the unique electrical activity of the neurons that are layered near the target zone, and the signal that is detected is played back as audio). I’m keeping solid food down today.

The biggest difference between this surgery and the first was in not having complications from inserting a Foley catheter. The first time around, the Foley did not go in easily, resulting in a literal and procedural mess. The routine was disrupted because a urologist and nurse had to scrub in that morning; to minimize my discomfort and to keep me from freaking out, I received more anesthesia than usual.

So this time, I went with a Texas (condom) catheter, and that meant I was far more alert and aware of what was happening during the, uh, good parts. That included the drilling of the burr hole (surprisingly easy), trimming the edge of that hole (“you’re going to hear me sawing”), and the banter between surgeon and specialist as to whether they had nailed the placement of the lead (the audio signal of each type of neuron is unique, and that’s how the surgeon knows he has hit the target). Every indication is yes, they did nail the placement (to a 1 mm spot near the top of the brain stem).

We will know for sure on Feb. 24, when the device is turned on for the first time and the initial settings are dialed in. I do believe I had two instances of relief during the implantation, and if we are right about this, Feb. 24 will be a happy day indeed!

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