Sunday, April 27, 2008

VNS problems

Something has gone terribly wrong with the VNS implant and I'm not quite sure how to approach a solution. I know the most appropriate person to call would be the surgeon, because I have a strong feeling that surgery is what will be required to fix the problem. However, I'm extremely reluctant to call him because, due to some bizarre Medicare rule, he was never reimbursed for implanting it in the first place. The hospital fees, anesthesiologist, even the device itself, were all covered, but for some reason the surgeon was stiffed. They didn't pay him a cent for performing the surgery and he was not allowed to charge me for his services either.

This was no surprise to him or me. He was the one that informed me that this would be the case when I had my initial consult with him, and yet he agreed to do the surgery. Still, I feel guilty about needing to see him again knowing he worked on me for free and now, through no fault of his own, will probably have to remove the device.

Given that I've had the implant for close to two years, it seems odd that I would only now start having a problem. This past Thursday, I noticed that the wire connecting the electrodes to the battery was very visible in my neck. I was immediately alarmed because this was the first time I'd seen or felt it under my skin. The battery has always been noticeable under my skin, but never the wire. The entire area from the incision in my neck to the one in my chest (there's about 10 cm between the two), has become painful, almost as if my body is trying to reject this foreign object.

I've wanted the thing out since it was implanted because I instantly knew it was a mistake to have gotten it in the first place. I might finally get my wish. I just hope the surgeon doesn't get stiffed again.