This story recounts the experience of a patient who is receiving Medtronic drug delivery therapy for the treatment of chronic pain. Medtronic invited him/her to share his/her story candidly. Please bear in mind that the experiences are specific to this particular person.
For his entire life, David was active and liked to work hard. An avid distance runner, he regularly logged 30 to 50 miles per week. Professionally, he was the principal of a special education school for children with disabilities.
Then, one morning his life changed. "I woke up on January 13, 1983, with excruciating back pain," David recalls. "I crawled to the car and was taken to the emergency room. I was hospitalized and diagnosed with a disc herniation at three levels. I had a laminectomy and a posterior fusion."
Despite the surgery, David's pain in his lower back and left leg was relentless. Any movement—including bending backward or forward—sent a shock of electricity down his back to his toes and took his breath away. He continued to work but gave up all exercise. As a result, David became depressed.
"It was very hard on my family," David says. "But I never felt hopeless because I knew my doctor was determined to help me."
David tried every treatment option available to him, including medications that did not relieve the pain and made him feel sleepy. In 1988, he tried an early version of neurostimulation therapy. But the pain was too widespread for the device that was available at that time.
"My wife and I desperately wanted to adopt children," he explains. "And I knew that to be considered as an adoptive parent I had to be well. That was my motivation."
David's physician attended a conference where he learned about Medtronic's drug delivery therapy. He thought David would be a good candidate and referred him to the appropriate specialist.
David underwent a screening test at a hospital where a test dose of medication was administered to an area surrounding his spinal cord. If it relieved his pain by stopping it at its source, he could proceed with getting the therapy.
"During the trial I felt great relief," says David. "A total calming down of the severe pain. I still had some discomfort, but not the blinding electrical shock I was used to. I couldn't wait for the surgery!"
David began receiving drug delivery therapy in the early '90s. While he did not have any complications, there are risks associated with the procedure. The most frequently reported problems following drug infusion system implant surgery include infection, spinal fluid leak, pump inversion, skin erosion, drug side effects, loss of therapy effect, and therapy that did not meet the patient's expectations. For a complete list of adverse events that have been associated with the therapy, please refer to the Important Safety Information.
It took his doctor almost a year to adjust his dosage to the optimal setting to control his pain. "During that time I often felt nauseous, but it was still preferable to the pain," David says.
Today, he continues to experience pain relief with drug delivery therapy and is back to exercising. "My average pain score is a 3 out of 10. I go to the gym daily and work out for an hour and a half," David says.
Best of all, David and his wife were able to realize their dream of adopting two children from Korea. "Because of the pump, I was able to interact with my children and to complete my career to retirement. It has given me a life," David says.