Wednesday, March 05, 2008
What's new, what's old
Hello, again. I've been on hiatus for a while because over the last five months or so, I've either not really had anything interesting to say (often) or I've been too wrapped up in the business at hand to step away from it and blog (much less often).
It won't really take that long to catch up. Since last October, I stopped smoking pot and started baking and eating pot brownies, my dog developed Addison's disease and almost died, we broke a record for total snowfall in a season, and my mother-in-law was diagnosed with, and had surgery for, breast cancer.
What brought me back was this morning's visit to the urologist. Over the last couple years, my bladder symptoms (urgency + frequency) have gotten worse, although it's happened so slowly that it almost hadn't registered. Today, though, the urologist told me that he's pretty much used every pharmaceutical trick in his bag and doesn't have any new drug options for me. Instead, he said he thinks I'm a good candidate for getting a gizmo called Interstim (a.k.a. "the bladder pacemaker") implanted.
Interstim delivers a contant, mild electric charge to nerves near the base of the spine. What good will that do? The urologist explained that Insterstim fixes bladder function similar to the way a good hard smack fixes an old TV: it's not clear why it works, but it does. Here's how the process goes: First, they would implant the wires in a procedure during which I'd be sedated but awake. There are 4 wires, and they go in near some nerves at the base of the spine. After that, I'd go thru a two-week trial period during which the wires would be connected to a pager-sized control gizmo. The control gizmo can turn each of the four wires on and off independently and, I think, change the polarity of the charge sent to each wire. For two weeks, working with someone at the hospital, I'd go through different settings on the gizmo while keeping a pee-pee diary. After two weeks, they look at the results. If I've gotten at least a 50%benefit from the gizmo, they replace the pager-gizmo with a device that would be permanently implanted under the skin just north of my behind. If I haven't gotten a 50% benefit, the wires come out and I go back to my non-bionic bladder.
Cool, huh? There's a waiting list right now, so I wouldn't be able to get hooked up until July, but I told them to put my name on the list. The urologist says there's about an 80% chance that I'll see a dramatic improvement and a 20% chance that it won't do a thing for me. There's slightly larger than an Oreo under my skin, but not nearly as much as the Botox injection. And supposedly, my HMO will pay for it with minimal fussing (we'll just see about that).
So now we're all caught up. That wasn't so bad.