I only got the call on Monday and I saw him this afternoon.
He sees 7 to 8 patients with occipital nerve stimulation and says they range in what works or feels best. Most prefer tonic stimulation, as that it is what they are used to. A few prefer burst programs. But he feels that if you can find a program that works well, surely it is best to have it without sensation.
It was great to see him, as it put a lot of what I feel, about being different, unsure and uncertain, to rest. He spoke about my recovery from this operation so matter of factly and agreed with all I said about it and how Mr Patel reacted, that it make things feel normal.
He explained that he and Mr Patel had gone to a conference held by the man, who now works in New Zealand, that came up with the burst program and therefore he understood what was meant by the new way that the prodigy stimulator can work. Basically, they pinned the main guy down after the conference, to ask what he thought about how it can help occipital and peripheral nerves....it was explained that lower frequencies would work better for this, even on the burst program.
So that's what they would like to try for me.
Mike also explained that it is different for occipital neuralgia, as compared to spinal cord stimulation, as the area that caused pain can be specifically targeted. However, with occipital neuralgia, to get stimulation in the base area of the nerve causing the pain is what is required, which means that it can spread to the specific area along that nerve. But the stimulation is best if it covers a large area. The moment the stimulation caused pain, pinching etc, then it isn't going to be useful.
So we set about trying a lot of different settings to find the contact and the lead the gives the best area of stimulation. Initially I got a lot of pinching and tightness from the programs but once he moved onto the higher lead of the two, I started feeling stimulation in a higher area than usual. It was around the top of my ear but spread across to the area that my new pain seems to be happening in. So he set a few programs with the stimulation in this area but using a tonic sensation. Then he created 2 burst programs that use the same but the last of them had much lower frequencies, as was suggested at the conference.
Apparently it is suggested that it can take at least 3 days for someone to know if a burst program helps or is suitable, even on the 30% lower setting than it comes in at. Therefore, he wants me to begin win the tonic programs to find ones that help with the pain. They all have a wide difference between the start of the simulation to the time that it gets too much. So he feels that these have a great hope in helping me at this time. Then he could create a burst program of the best ones in the future.
Mike says that the Oxford Pain Clinic says it takes 6 months for a person to get benefit from the stimulator implant, but Mr Patel disagrees. I guess if I find a program that can help then I can't imagine if taking quite so long. But it seems that last time round it just was never quite right. So they gave it chance but something needing changing.
I have come away feeling hopeful. It seems that at the moment the operation was worth it to get a better chance at helping the pain I am in and to get a different response to where the stimulation is feels good. I feel like it is in a better place to help the original ON pain, as well as the new pain since the surgery.
So now, to try these programs out and see what comes of them.