Third in a continuing series
After undergoing surgery to help alleviate some of his Parkinson’s disease symptoms, Jack Condon was eager to continue the recovery process at his follow-up appointment this week.
Condon underwent a procedure called deep brain stimulation several weeks ago at Banner Boswell Medical Center; the two-surgery procedure with neurosurgeon Dr. David Pootrakul placed two nodes in Condon’s brain and a battery pack in his chest, connected by wires hidden behind his ears.
At Monday’s appointment, Condon’s device was turned on for the first time.
“We’ll find out today what they have in store for me,” Condon said before the beginning of his appointment with neurologist Dr. Holly Shill.
Before his surgery, Condon was taking more than 30 pills a day to manage his Parkinson’s, and so far he has been able to cut down on a few.
While the placement of the nodes can have some effect on DBS patients, Condon will likely feel even more changes as he works through the adjustments with Shill.
“I’m just amazed that he was able to reduce his medications already,” said Condon’s wife Susan.
Deep brain stimulation surgery implants a small device in the patient’s brain that functions like a pacemaker does for the heart, providing electrical stimulation to the area of the brain that controls motor symptoms, decreasing or sometimes eliminating the uncontrollable movements and stiffness that become debilitating to Parkinson’s patients.
The surgery, from what Condon remembers, went well.
“Everything went pretty much textbook, I guess,” Condon said, adding that he felt little pain after the procedure. “The first surgery was pretty intense. For a few days there, I was pretty tired.”
Condon said he felt like he was taking too many medications, making him hyper and uncomfortable, in addition to his other symptoms, including the stiffness in his limbs, especially his right shoulder, and the tension and curling in his feet.
“My lower back has just been killing me,” Condon said, explaining that he didn’t have any pain or stiffness there for three or four days after the surgery, but then it came back with a vengeance.
These after-effects are pretty normal, Shill said.
Shill set the nodes in Condon’s brain to an electrical pulse that is probably only 60 to 70 percent of what it eventually will be; she tested the different settings by feeling the stiffness in Condon’s arms.
“Eventually you will have control over the settings,” Shill told the Condons.
Shill warned that Condon might feel some delayed dyskinisia, or uncontrollable movements, and explained that he can adjust his medications based on how he feels. Shill suggested that Condon take the same amount of medications, but spread out the doses.
“You’ll see what you need pretty quickly,” Shill told Condon.
On average, patients can cut down on their medications by 30 to 50 percent, Shill said.
Condon’s wife Susan joked that Shill should program the DBS device so make her husband help with more household chores, but for Condon, the changes so far make him hopeful of more to come, even if that does include taking out the trash.