Letter to Sasha: Hi, My wife is currently living with Chronic Pancreatits and has asked her dr. about a pump, but he seems resistant. What did you have to do to get one? From your searching, is there anything that you could suggest that she needs to do to get it quicker? (btw, does this pump the medicine directly into the pancreas; near it?)
Glenn / Submitted on 2009/06/29 at 11:34pm
From Sasha: Dear Glenn,
I’m so sorry to hear about your wife’s CP!! I am sure many people are curious to know the great questions you’ve asked! First, the intrathecal pump was surgically “installed” by my pain management doctor. He had to try less invasive things first such as a celiac nerve block using an injection of botox to numb the area. It worked a tiny bit (although I didn’t think so at the time – only upon reflection did I realize it had helped. Then he did a spinal stimulator next which is a electronic device that vibrates and the goal is to eliminate the pain by altering how your brain receives the signal. That didn’t work because it had to go to high to work which then caused my entire body to feel electrocuted at all times. Finally, after a year of intensive psychotherapy that my Dr required I do before installing the pump, I was taken into a brief surgery. The Dr. puts the Medronics-brand pump in your abdominal region on either the right or left side. My torso is super short so my pump hits my bottom rib and my top hip. It can be uncomfortable at times but NOTHING like pancreatic pain.
The intrathecal pump then has a catheter…that goes out and up the open area of my spinal cord and stops right at my pancreas area. He gave me an extra long catheter in case i can have kids – although that is basically out of the question now. Anyhow, The pump delivers a numbing medication Bupivicaine (spelling bad I am sure) and the Fentyl and Morphine. It puts out tiny micorgrams of the meds which is awesome so that it not only avoids my liver but my brain, as well. I really didn’t care how the pump would look in my body although apparently many people are very bothered by the mental thought of an implant. I didn’t care ahead of time and now that I have the pump I see it matters very little.
HOW DID I GET MY Dr TO PUT THE PUMP IN? Well, first question I’d ask you is what doctor are you asking to put it in? If it is not a pain specialist than you’re bound to get a no. In fact, I was about to get a stomach tube put in which would’ve destroyed my life but my Internist protested and begged for the pump instead. Also, my psychologist told the pain Dr and my GI that if i got the stomach pump I would very likely kill myself. Next question I’d ask you what city you are seeing this Dr in. If it is in a smaller sized town or city that is not forward thinking then the reality is that they don’t really know anything about the pump. You might seek out a larger med center pain specialist like Houston, Seattle, LA, and possibly NYC. You can always seek out help outside your city because there are no rules when it comes to living in that type of awful pain.
I’ve had my pump over 2 years now and I couldn’t have lived this long without it. Also, I was already in bed 5 out of 7 days of the week and I was miserable. Now that trauma has been lifted from my life.
I hope this helped and thanks for writing.