VNS and Me

April 29, 2009

April Update

Filed under: implant,living life,scars,surgery — vnsandme @ 12:32 am
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Well, it’s April, and at the end of June I’ll have had my implant for a year.  The psychiatrist who handles my VNS adjustments keeps telling me that many people see the most noticeable improvements between a year and a year and a half.

I started seeing a difference within a few weeks; now the thing I’m most aware of is that when I get down I don’t feel the need to sleep for 20 hours at a time.  (Seriously.  When I get depressed, I can just SLEEP.)  Though a few times that’s bummed me out, because sleep is an escape for me, overall I’ve been able to stay more active in things I like doing, rather than just becoming kind of comatose.

I need to post new pictures of my scars.  The one on my neck is really hard to see at this point; some days I don’t even bother to cover it with makeup, because you’d never notice it anyhow.  The one on my chest is still pink, but it’s flattened out and I can see that it’s going to start turning white soon.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that the doctor who did the surgery did a vertical cut that disappears behind a bra strap.  And it doesn’t bother me even if it does peek out from time to time if I’m wearing a bathing suit or something. 

I’ve really enjoyed reading comments and questions from other people who are considering the implant, or who have gotten one themselves.  I’m curious about what other people’s experiences have been?  If I’m able to collect a few stories, I can post them in a new blog entry.


September 29, 2008

Scars at 3 Months

Filed under: depression,implant,living life,scars,surgery — vnsandme @ 11:36 pm
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implantation scars at 3 months

implantation scars at 3 months

Well, it’s been a little over 3 months since I got the VNS implant. I took a picture so you can see the scars. The one on my neck is increasingly hard to see — soon I won’t need any makeup to cover it.

The one on my chest is a lot easier to see, and raised.  It doesn’t bother me at all, though (well, other than itching from time to time) and it disappears right under even a thin bra strap since it’s vertical.

(If you’re reading this because you’re considering having this done and you’re worried about scarring, totally ask your doctor if s/he’ll do it this way.  It’s the best way to go!)

To the left of the scar (your left), you can see what might look like a bruise on my skin but is actually the curve of the implant.  I’m fairly thin compared to most people (but definitely not skinny) and they do tell you ahead of time that people with small frames and who are thin may be able to see a bit of the outline of the implant.  This doesn’t bother me at all.

Last of all, the picture is (probably obviously) life-size, so you can see how big the scars really are.

In terms of me being back on the downward spiral, I figured out that it seems to be psychological.  Major family upheaval, so I’m going to go back and see my therapist to talk about it.  I really believe that will help, but I’ll be sure to let you know for sure!

June 28, 2008

VNS Days 1 – 3

Day 1:

Surgery first thing. Had to wait for-EVER once we got there. Told to get there at 6:45, apparently the surgery itself wasn’t scheduled until 8. Paperwork took a grand total of 3 minutes.

They put me in a bed in a smock, footies, and a little blue cap. Everyone kept asking me if I smoked, drank, had taken out any piercings, etc. I was ready to ask the next person who asked me if they were asking because we were going to have a party.

Everyone was really nice, and they wheeled me into the OR, which had these 3 ginormous lights. I couldn’t see very well because I’d taken my glasses off. So they attached my IV and the room started scrolling toward the ceiling. I thought about asking if they’d given me something. Then one of the nurses asked me if I could tell they’d given me something. I told her yes, and that was the last thing I remembered until I woke up.

I was wobbly, but got to go home shortly. Slept a lot of the afternoon, but as whatever they’d pre-medicated me with wore off, a began to have a terrible reaction to the general anesthesia. Dry heaves are the worst.

And then I saw the implant.

Guys, it looked like someone had implanted a cupcake. It was huge, and all I could think was WHAT HAVE I DONE??!! I was going to be a freak with this huge lump on the left side of my chest. You could even see the leads going up into my neck. Forget the scars, who cared about the scars…who was even going to notice the scars with this massive soup-can-lid sized lump?

I mean, I teach, and people stare at me for hours at a time. And I like wearing tank tops. My mom said, maybe I just wouldn’t be able to wear as many tank tops, and I thought, Like hell. But then I started thinking about meeting guys. If I met a guy I was interested in, would he be repelled by this nasty huge lump I had? I would be. I started to feel like a freak.

Day 2

Got some medicine to stop the puking.

Was allowed to peel off the gauze. I now have two 2″-incisions, one horizontal on the front of my neck, one vertical just to the right of my left arm….well, that one’s probably more like 3″. There are no stitches, they used surgical superglue, so I won’t have scars from the needle. It actually looks pretty good, considering.

And…thank GOD…the swelling has gone down a bit over the implant so it’s not like I have an Alien trying to bust through.

It’s right under the skin, and I can feel it, a hard disc a couple of inches across. And yes, I can still see the lead going up toward my neck. I really hope there’s still swelling to go down.

Day 3

Checked my phone and go on my computer and am a little upset to have missed some important work stuff on Friday. I expected to be back on the computer by Thursday afternoon after the surgery, and obviously I was trying to turn inside out thanks to the general. So Friday came and went and I missed things that day, too. So now I’ve been doing catchup and a little damage control.

I’m sore, but I haven’t wanted to take any of the painkiller they gave me, because it can make you kind of nauseated. That’s all I need right now. So I’ve just been taking Tylenol, the only other thing I’m allowed to take.

I find myself favoring my left arm, and the implant feels heavy, especially if I lean forward, even though I know it isn’t. I guess it’s just the fact that something is in there that I’m not used to, right underneath this big vertical wound.

I’m trying to figure out what it’s going to be like to have this thing in there when it doesn’t hurt around it. I mean, if I have an itch, will I just scratch like normal, or will I have to be careful I don’t shift the thing under my skin?

I also keep wondering how they got it over there. Did they have to slide a scalpel back and forth under there to disconnect the skin from the muscle or what? Gross, but inquiring minds…well, maybe I don’t really want to know….

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