Thursday, March 19, 2009

My Husband, The Bionic Man

My husband, Bionic Man, is in a clinical trial for Occipital Nerve Implants. The implants are being studied to reduce or eliminate quickly hemiplegic migraines and cluster migraines. So as a friend of mine reminded me, we are braving the new frontier of science to prayerfully help those who suffer from these things in the future. The great part about the implants is that they are working. When Bionic man gets a headache, he turns on his little machine and waves it over the battery. The battery turns on and the electric wires up his spine and into his head send out electric impulses into the occipital nerve that quickly diminish the pain from the headache. This is a great thing for him since these headaches when they persist for days on end cause paralysis in the right side of his body and other fun symptoms. :) Obviously, the symptoms go away in time but it is really not a fun condition for him to live with. Bionic man is TOUGH and RARELY complains of a headache or quits working. This is probably to his detriment. So we usually all figure it out as the right side of his face is drooping as well as his speech.
Bionic man had the initial surgery the first part of January. It is a blind study in which some of the patients received a placebo device that was not activated. God heard our pleading and allowed himto have a device that was turned on and it worked!!! After three weeks, the electrodes slipped out and moved down into his left shoulder. When he turned on his machine, he got a nice electric shock in his left shoulder that sent him to the floor. It was actually quite amusing if you have our twisted since of humor. The second part wasn't so fun though as we had to go back to Springfield in February and have the electrodes re-anchored into his skull. This time, they used very large anchors to get it to "stick." It stuck so well, that the wire on the left side of his head decided to expose itself on the outside of Bionic man's skin. (Not a good thing :( ) At this point, I guess the risk of infection was HUGE and the neurosurgeon and his staff were pretty much freaking out telling us to get back to Springfield ASAP. Easier said than done with 4 kids to take care of but I am grateful for all the help :)

Currently, we are HOME from Springfield. The Bionic Man is all intact. He no longer has any wires that are poking out of his head. This obviously is a good thing. We checked into the hospital at 1 pm yesterday with no time to spare. They were already paging us to the surgical area :) Once we got settled (I say we) I really meant Bionic man back into his handsome hospital gown with the giant gap in the back, everyone wanted to see the Bionic Man with the wires sticking out the back of his head. After the novelty wore off, the charge nurse read the order for the day's surgery which included removing the entire device. She explained we would have the option of coming back in two or three months and redoing the entire thing. At this point, I got into my pitbull with lipstick mind frame and apologized for my rant ahead of time and said "Oh no, we are NOT going to go home without this device because it is working (PTL). I said they were going to have to talk with the neurosurgeon and come up with a different answer for us because that wasn't going to work."

The neurosurgeon came in to talk with us. He was already scheduled for another surgery before ours and that patient had to wait a bit. Doc used several colorful words to describe what he saw in Bionic man's head. He could not believe that we were back and that the wire was exposed. Doc scratched his head and was as frustrated as we felt. He tugged on the exposed wire in Bionic man's head hard and it didn't budge. Doc was rather pleased with the anchors he put in last time. "Hell they are strong." he said. Doc laid out our options, stated the risk for infection with the exposed wire, stated his inability to tell whether it was connected to the right or the left side. Listened to our impassioned pleas and said he would go ahead and redo the entire surgery again with new wires and electrodes. I will spare you the rest of the gory, long details but after 3 long hours, he was reattached and the device was buzzing in his head just fine. Doc told me that Bionic Man scars "like a freakin mother" He said he was amazed at how much scar tissue the man had and that he just kept having to use his knife to cut it all away. I said I believed it. He always has bad keloid scars. So here is what Bionic Man looks like right now with a ton of wire hidden up under his skin and a battery as big as a cell phone in his back. Isn't that cool? I love technology. I think it is amazing how well this works. So here is to future research...clinical trials.... and prayerfully no more hemiplegic migraines. Please continue to pray that his body does not reject any of these foreign objects and that no wires come to the surface again.
This is where the battery for the device is and where the wires are screwed in that run up the spine.
These are the beautiful incisions where the wires attach to the electrodes and where the electrodes are anchored to his skull. Doc was able to use the original anchors because they were fastened in so tightly!


Becky said...

God is so amazing:)

Anjanette said...

Wow Laura! You are so right about going through life together as a family. You're raising beautiful children, and it sounds like Jim will be feeling better again soon. Sorry for the ordeal you just went through/are going through. Thank you for encouraging me. It's helpful to see someone in the midst of so much stuff also able to see clearly and inspire others. Keep it up!

Erika said...


Jim has just gone from lab rat to ROBOT....he he

33 times under general anesthesia has got to be some kind of world record. I vote we get him some kind of metal or trophy. I can picture it now... a little anesthesiologist sitting atop a shiny trophy.

it's just a thought......

Mama C said...

Incredible! God keeps coming up with... everything!!

Go Bionic Man and Pitbull with lipstick. I'm proud of you both!

Kathryn said...

Isn't God good? The things that he has allowed man to discover and invent! I always praise him when I think about my little Rhian's back surgery. He is a good God!

I will pray that this continues to work for Jim and that he heals quickly! Praise God!