Tuesday Jan 20, 2009

My Father The Cyborg Part II

For those following the journey of my father's road to battling his Parkinson's Disease (PD) via Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)...

The first and most intense part of the surgery, to wire the brain, on January 5th was a success despite the extreme risk associated with his specific case. The state of his disease, coupled with his age and 20 year old artificial (but in fine working condition) heart valves introduced complexity -- complexity that his anesthesiologist felt extremely uncomfortable with since part one of the multi-hour surgery requires the patient to be awake and locked in a seated, upright position. This positions limits the anesthesiologist's access to airways and ability to perform chest compressions, if the patient needs rescuing. Despite the risk, my father chose to move forward with the DBS.

The second part, performed yesterday, was also a success. This step was to embed the battery in his right shoulder and connect the wiring. Since things went so smoothly, he was able to go home a few short hours after the procedure.

The next part, set for February 3rd, is to enable the battery -- a non-invasive procedure that requires no surgery. The reason for the break in between this step and the above procedures is to allow the brain tissue that was affected during the surgery some time to heal.

Once the neurostimulator is turned on, our hope is that the Parkinson's tremors and muscle stiffness will go away so my father, in conjunction with his neurologist, can begin dialing down his plethora of medications.

It's not often enough that we hear of such amazing medical triumphs. I'm hopeful and inspired by every facet of my father's journey -- your kind thoughts & prayers, the DBS technology and those who've poured their energy into it's creation, the amazing team of exceptional medical experts who have committed so much time and willingness to take risks so my father can experience a vastly improved quality of life, my extended family who doesn't bat an eye to drop everything and focus on what really matters in this life, and my father who looked the risks squarely in the eyes and bravely chose to move forward with such conviction. My family and I are endlessly thankful for all of it.

I'll post another update once next hurdles are cleared.

Sunday Jan 04, 2009

My Father The Cyborg

My father is a walking medical technology wonder. His entry into the cyborg world began in 1987 when artificial mitral and aortic heart valves were implanted to repair damage caused by childhood rheumatic fever.

He has had Parkinson's Disease (PD) for about 15 years. His meds are tapped out, not terribly affective and now require meds to counter the growing list of side-affects from the PD meds -- an ugly, snowballing affect. If all goes well, he will have a neurostimulator implanted, via a procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), tomorrow. If successful, the neurostimluator will short circuit the abnormal brain signals that cause his PD tremors and rigidity; which in turn, will hopefully enable him to dramatically simplify his buffet of medications and enjoy a more comfortable, normal life.

Since DBS is a rather new technology (approved by the FDA for treating PD in 2002), it's still considered radical by many. Getting him to this pre-op point has been a long road -- kudos to my Mother for doing so much legwork. Now, we hope for physical stabilization until tomorrow AM so his rock star Neurosurgeon, Dr. Aury Nagy, and the rest of the amazing medical team can do their thing! :-)

A million thanks to those of you who have sent such kind thoughts, words & prayers to a man you may never meet. I am eternally grateful!

More on DBS (it's not gory, but does comprehensively convey the how amazing this technology is):

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Sr. Community Engineering Program Manager/Acting Director for Sun's external social networking sites (blogs, forums, wikis, etc.). Skrocki's personal blog, LinkedIn.

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