Charging my surgically embedded battery

After a  three-year multi-state pursuit of surgery to control chronic pain, in October 2016 I had a spinal stimulator surgically implanted in my back. The stimulator helps control pain by sending an electric impulse up my spine. The electricity blocks the brain's ability to receive signals that tell it, "You are in pain." The stimulator is a vibrator which gets its power from electricity. The power comes from a rechargeable battery.
Drawing by Emily Hartsay.

Previously, power for medical devices were limited to batteries that could not be recharged. Consequently, surgeons had to replace batteries. The advantage of a rechargeable battery is that it requires less surgery in the long-term. The disadvantage is that considerable maintenance is required. My spinal surgery requires that I charge the battery for three hours a month. My initial focus is on describing the process of recharging by describing the equipment and how I use it.

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I have two surgically-implanted Medtronic devices.

1. A battery-operated pacemaker. The pacemaker keeps my heart beating. Period. The pacemaker was implanted over 15 years ago before rechargeable batteries. Consequently, every 10 years I require surgery to have the battery changed.
2.  A rechargeable battery operated spinal stimulator (formal name “neurostimulator.” ) The stimulator dramatically reduces my chronic pain. Rechargeable means a reduction in surgeries to replace the battery. Currently, I am describing how I recharge my battery (see below). Although I have been recharging since October, describing the process is comparable to asking a centipede “How do you walk? Do you coordinate your first pede with your second pede and your 50th pede with your 64th pede?” Hence the description is a work in progress. Note to self: Stop writing and recharge, [2]

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Equipment

  1. My back.

October, 2016. My back shortly after surgery. The band-aid (right upper) is the location of the spinal stimulator [1]. The band-aid (left lower) is the location of the rechargeable battery; the “Wonder Women-style” belt [see below] must be positioned directly over this spot.
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2. Medtronic Kit

The equipment consists of my back, the kit provided by Medtronic and the electrical outlet (see below)l

 

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Yesterday, I charged my battery and posted the process on Facebook

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a.1:21 P.M

I maneuvered my mobility device to the side of the bed, put the equipment on the nightstand, and propped up my feet.

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b) 1:27 PM

This power device plugs into the electrical outlet and the charging device.

 

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c) 1:33 PM

The plug here goes to both the Wonder-Woman style belt and the charging monitor.

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d) 1:41 P.M.

I use the screen on this charging module to control the process. The device is attached to the belt.

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e) 1:50 P.M.

Before putting on the belt, I propped it up against the headboard of my bed.

 

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f) 2:12 P.M.

One of two screens

If you look at the photo of my back on the top of this post, you will see the band aid on the bottom left. My back has healed and the band aid gone. Remaining is a bump–a slight protrusion. The navigational portion of the belt is affixed over the protrusion. However, the navigational portion is not exactly in the right place. Hence, the absence of color on the bars at the bottom of the screen. Because either I have been negligent or because I am too focused on thinking what I am doing, I next have difficulty accessing the nifty positioning software.

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Two of two screens

My Facebook page is in Spanish. I am trying to learn the language. In August, my younger daughter Amelia Altalena married a sergeant in the Spanish army. Javier and Amelia plan to have children. As
a Zeyda (Juliet is my first grandchild by way of my elder daughter Joanna and her husband Jade Kosmos, I have issued a ukase that all Solkoffs must learn Spanish. It would be helpful is I followed my own orders. The intention is to encourage me to speak to my grandchildren by Amelia and Javier when the couple is ready. My progress thus far is limited. Hence ver mas (accent marks missing).

 

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g) 2:45 P. M.

One of two screens

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Looking at the image of the horizontal battery, you will see the limited coverage (dark is the indicator). This means I have not charged recently. Indeed, I have been sufficiently negligent that I am no longer vibrating. For effective pain control, I should be vibrating all the time. The charging module gives me the option to vibrate while charging. This option slows down the charging process, but provides relief. Shame on me.

 

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Two of two screens

On Facebook, I received comments on my screen.

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h) 3:13 P.M.

One of two screens

A complete charge takes three hours. Impatience is not good. Twenty minutes today, I am vibrating. Twenty minutes tomorrow I will vibrate again. Due diligence is a good thing.

 

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Two of two screens

A surprising consequence of posting on Facebook is the expression of affection from my friends. How nice.

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NOTES

  1. This is a question for my surgeon. Physicians are the ultimate source.

2. Video history of Medtronic.

https://www.youtube.com/watchv=zTuyvJm0P74&feature=player_embedded

3. Under this band aide is the spinal stimulator. Image courtesy of Medtronic, the manufacturer.

 

4. The formal term for my spinal stimulator is “neurostimulator.”

 

 

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