Coping, Favorites, Treatment

Nerve Stimulator Heartbreak

Being helpless in the face of illness is like window shopping. You’re looking through the glass at all the possibilities for an effective treatment. Every time you start to walk through the door, thinking you’ve found what will provide relief, the metal grate slams down at your feet.

You can stick your fingers through the holes, but never far enough to touch what you need. Eventually there’s nothing left to reach for.

My choice to have a nerve stimulator implanted was made in desperation. I still believe that logic and reason were present, but having truly run out of options was a tremendous influence.

Desperation also allowed me to delude myself that the trial implant was effective — even though my husband and doctors didn’t think it was. It allowed me pay the outrageous cost of the surgery. And despair let me believe that the stimulator worked.

Now I know that even right after the implant, I didn’t really believe it worked. My sanity required me to think it did. For the eight weeks following the surgery, I was in hell. My last shot at relief didn’t appear to help. The rest of my life would be marred by excruciating pain. I had reached rock bottom and stayed there for nearly a year.

What got me out of bed was crediting the stimulator with making me more functional than before the surgery. Even with the doubt that crept in, earlier this year I trusted in the stimulator enough to tell you it relieved my pain. Now I know that it never helped at all.

As with many sorts of recovery, it took utter despair to accept my illness. I would do anything to spare you the agony of that year. But no matter what I say, your pain will drive you. Whether the treatment is meds, acupuncture or nerve stimulation is irrelevant.

I cringe when I’m asked my secret for being happy even with this misery. The answer is not wisdom that I can impart over coffee. You have to live it and will only know that you have when you’ve gotten to the other side.

What a discouraging post! Know that I’m one of the “special” few whose headaches are untreatable. Please don’t give up without exhausting your options. Once you think you’ve tried everything, ask about and research what other treatments or treatment combinations are available. You’ll be amazed by the possibilities.

If you’re thinking about getting a nerve stimulator, remember that I represent only one side of the story. While most of the people I know have similar experiences, people with good stories aren’t likely to seek out someone with a bad story. Do your research though. Whether the stimulator works for you or not, you’ll be grateful knowing it was a well-thought out choice.