Friday, December 5, 2008

It DOES take a brain surgeon, part 3: Drill, Baby, Drill!

The Armchair expert boldly returns to the topic of Deep Brain stimulation.

Can we assume your interest in Deep Brain Stimulation goes beyond idle curiosity?

Unfortunately, yes. I plan to get evaluated as a candidate for the procedure this January in San Francisco. If the evaluation is satisfactory to all parties, it won't be long before they screw an immobilizing "halo" of steel to my shaved skull, drill two holes, and introduce hair-thin wires into my little gray brain. Did I mention that I will be wide awake much of the time?

Sufferin' Mother of... why in the world would you endure such an operation?

A: I now experience extended periods when I "freeze", my feet refuse to move, my voice becomes soft and slurred, my muscles become stiff and sore. I lose facial expression and, though consumed with frustration, am unable to storm about, yell and throw things. Also I have fallen a few times. The falls happen when I can't accept that my feet won't move, and I try to walk. Further, there is the matter of keeping to my pill schedule (at least one pill every waking 2 hours) And how about this- it appears the operation slows progression of PD in animals. Which I'll admit to being.

Q: They do this while you're awake?

A: Hey, would you let somebody rummage around your skull while you were asleep? I think not! Besides they need the patient to be awake and responsive so that they can assure the location of the implanted wire is ideal. This is confirmed by running a wee charge through the wire and asking the patient to perform simple motions.

Q: Simple motions, like writhing in pain?

A: It's the darndest thing, but while the brain senses damage to other parts of the body as pain, it doesn't feel pain when it takes physical punishment itself.

Q: What a weird organ!

A: True, but I wouldn't part with it. I have time for one more question in this installment... yes, you in the back?

When the operation is complete, will they seal the two holes they drill in your forehead with a couple of plugs that will cause you to resemble "Hellboy"?

A: According to my wife, yes.

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