Where am I?
One of my companions has just made a fire beneath his bed using his clothes. He said he ‘was cold’. Thank God he didn’t have any matches. Mind you during the course of a chilly September night with draughts creeping in from the ill-fitting windows alongside my bed, I would have been glad of a bit of warmth and the restful glow given off by smouldering underpants and socks.
Guess where I am?
I’ll give you a clue. It begins with ‘H’.
No, but you are close.
Of course, I’m in Hospital!
This time the surreal nonsense began in the cab here. The driver furnished me with all manner of interesting facts. Such as:
“Did you know the human body can live for 40 days without water?”
“Or is it food? Yeah, must be food….”
“Well, I suppose, if Jesus did it ….”
“Did he? He done all that then?”
“Well, according to the Bible, 40 days and 40 nights in the desert …”
“That must be Lent then? When you give up chocolate? Just imagine 40 days and 40 nights without chocolate. It’s a good job Easter falls when it does”.
Hospital benefactors, decor, architecture etc revisited
The current admission is for surgery to re-implant the electrical contacts in my brain, to hopefully target better the stimulation, and in turn give greater relief from symptoms. I give the Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein a nod as I book in at reception. She was actually called Henrietta, the ‘ugly duckling’ daughter of Queen Victoria, except she never got her hands on a Swan-conversion kit. She was married off to a penniless minor German aristocrat, Prince Christian. She devoted her life to ‘good works’ and was a supporter of the Suffragette Movement. What doesn’t look quite so good on the CV is that she was apparently addicted to Opium (that is the drug, not the tarty perfume) and Laudanum. I resist the temptation to inspect the fine craftsmanship and intricate carving on the staircase, and make my way up to the ward.
After bedding down looking forward to relative peace and quiet: there being only three of us on the ward, the night became typically eventful after a patient is brought in somewhere about midnight screaming and shouting the place down. Apparently he’d had an operation the previous week, gone home and existed almost exclusively on painkillers. Now I’m no quack, but even I know that painkillers will give you constipation. So after the registrar had had a good feel of his distended stomach and bowel, and assured the patient he was (unfortunately) in no danger, he promptly fell asleep and gave the rest of us a virtuoso display of snoring and farting. By 5am I could take no more and was ready to fucking strangle the bastard. So I got up.
DBS set up
The beginners guide to Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery – A practical approach. Part two
After undergoing a battery of tests, I join the surgical team to discuss the situation. There are basically two options. The first, is to move my electrodes – but where to? My problem is that the implanted electrodes in the Sub Thalamic Nucleus of my brain are exactly were the textbook says they should be. Also, what I didn’t know until then was that every time they go into the brain they need to drill fresh holes in the skull through virgin bone. Even for a re-implantation. Not good. A Second option would be to fit a fresh set of electrodes in the Globus Pallidus, with which there have been some successes in reducing the uncontrollable movements (Diskynesias) which are a side effect of anti-Parkinson’s medication. Again this would mean fresh drilling, but would mean that the original set of leads stay in place. Now my ears prick up at this. The advantages are that existing benefits could be retained and fine-tuned by means of the leads in the Globus Pallidus – in theory. Disadvantages are a whole second run of cabling down the right side of the head, to match the left and the insertion of an additional IPG (battery and Implanted Pulse Generator about the size and weight of a large-ish mobile phone), into my chest below the collarbone, or the abdomen.
Hmmm. don’t much like he sound of that.
For those of you who battled through the particularly inept piece of writing that marked the opening of this tale of tales, and were paying attention, you will recall my attempt to explain the intricacies of Deep Brain Stimulation surgery, using kitchen utensils, an AM radio and some fruit and veg. It maybe of help to expand on this to explain my current predicament in laymans terms. So, to recap, you will need one coconut, one cauliflower, 4 kebab skewers, copper wiring, AM Radio, power drill and a new potato. Here’s a coconut I prepared earlier. In it I have the two original holes. I now have to make two fresh ones to re-implant the kebab skewers or to attempt a fresh insertion into the Globus Pallidus. So I drill the two holes as before making sure I leave a good gap between new and old.
The Kitchen’s getting a bit crowded here. Anyone fancy a Malibu?
Now take … Fuck, I’ve dropped the coconut. That’s torn it. It’s cracked across the top from hole 1 to 3 and No, I can’t use the other half of the shell, because for reasons which seemed perfectly sound at the time, I cut it in half again to fashion a horse’s ‘clip clop’ hoof sound effect. Rats! Okay, lets gaffa tape it up, or failing that I can use some silicone sealant. Like everyone else does, everywhere. Where was I? Yes, now the cauliflower make sure … Oh I don’t think I can be bothered with this.
So, back to the Professor’s office, and what to do? The question is batted backwards and forwards, while I, gung-ho for surgery no more than an hour ago, am quickly losing my nerve as it becomes evident that any additional surgery will at least as difficult, if not more so, than the original foray; and that there is every possibility that it could leave me worse rather than better off. Finally it is put to the vote – my consultant (expert in programming DBS systems), Chief Surgeon (one of the world’s foremost practitioners in this field) and his assistant (again highly experienced in DBS) unanimously advise not to proceed on the basis that my test scores indicate an overall improvement of 50% and because surgery would be a ‘shot in the dark’, for the moment at least any way, it presents too much of a risk.
So there we have it. Down to me now to make the most of what I’ve got. Cue Operation Independence.
I can’t think of an amusing way to round this tale off, so I’ll just bring you up to date with Mr. Death’s Door, my constipated screamer from last night. As I packed my gear, I was more than satisfied to find that nature – or rather some industrial strength laxatives had taken its course, and Our Friend was now beset by a monumental case of The Green Apple Quickstep.
Fine for me. I have no sense of smell.
© Andy Daly 2012