The question I get asked the most is how much my nerve stimulator helps me. This simple question is surprisingly difficult to answer. The response depends on how I feel that particular hour, what the previous day or week or month was like, how resentful I am of the little wires that restrict my movement, whether my general outlook is rosy or bleak.
I can’t give you a percentage of how much better I feel or even tell you how much my pain levels have changed. I’ll try to (like here, here and here), but the response is ever-changing and never feels accurate.
I can tell you that it does help. Probably just a little bit and it may just be a placebo, but it does help. I still have multiple days of terrible pain each month, but I have more good days than bad ones. Before the stimulator, bad days were the status quo.
My head still hurts all the time, but some days the pain doesn’t exceed a 2. Most of the time I’m at a 3 or 4. Three to five days a week the pain will grow to a five or six. Once or twice a week it will be 7+. These numbers sound scary, but compared to before I got the stimulator my pain is a piece of cake. My baseline pain was around 5 with daily fluctuations up to a 7. The pain would reach 8 and above at least five times a week.
There are other factors that may have helped. I quit a bad job and eventually replaced it with blogging, which I love. I moved to a city I love and can do almost all my errands within two miles of my house. I walk places more often than I drive and each day I leave the house, I think, “Seattle is the best city ever.” Although I prefer Arizona’s baseball team, I don’t miss all the driving I had to do in Phoenix, the heat and the plantations of big box stores every five miles. But, while I am happy now, moving away from my family and friends and figuring out how to live without work was terrible.
If I could control all these variables I would, but all the positive and negative changes seem to balance each other out. So, I have to admit that the lumpy box in my chest and the wires in my neck that restrict my movement and ability to use an electric blanket are worth it.
“How much does it help?” is actually the penultimate question; the follow-up question is usually, “Would you do it again?” I hem and haw, but my response never changes. Yes, I would do it again. I wish I knew more about what I was getting into when I got the implant, but even that knowledge probably wouldn’t keep me from getting it.