Is JD Hancock really a cyborg?Thu, Jun 9, 2011
Really? Yes, really!
But how? It’s a long story that started with a headache.
I was first diagnosed with my medical problem when I was in high school. I had severe headaches, and my mom took me to a doctor, and he told us about migraines. Fortunately, they were short-lived, and I didn’t get them again for many years.
I was working as a web product manager for a dot-com company in 2000 when the migraines returned. I missed weeks and weeks of work as many different doctors tried to find a source and a treatment. At last they subsided, and my life returned to normal.
The migraines didn’t return in force for five years. When they did in 2005, I was working as a Web Site Content Director for a non-profit organization, and I began missing a lot of work. I had surgery to correct a partially deviated septum and to clear out my sinuses, which seemed to help. The migraines didn’t go away completely, but I had respites.
In 2007 I started a new job at a technology start-up. I missed work here and there as the migraines continued. A neurologist specializing in sleep disorders diagnosed and successfully treated me for sleep deprivation. The migraines subsided for a time, but as they became more frequent again I moved from doctor to doctor trying to find answers. Thanks to a friend, I finally found a pain doctor who seemed to understand.
I had an x-ray of the back of my neck taken on July 29, 2010. Note my necklace running left-to-right across the image, the wire running from my battery pack below (not shown) up to the based of my neck, and the two leads at the end of the wires, one of which is misaligned.
On an off for a decade the migraines negatively impacted my quality of life, my work, and most importantly my family. So after trying several non-surgical treatments, I agreed to have equipment surgically placed in my body that would greatly lessen my suffering. The device, called a spinal cord stimulator (SCS), is designed to transmit a constant flow of electrical “white noise” into the back of my head to “mask” my pain. The surgery in March 2010 was successful, and for the first time in years I was completely free of migraine pain … at least for a few months.
But something went wrong. We believe some of the implanted equipment came loose. X-rays taken in July 2010 showed that one of the electrical leads was mis-aligned. My doctors and I decided that a second surgery with improved leads would solve the problem, and so I had an “upgrade” in August 2010. The results this time were less successful at first, as scar tissue and perhaps other factors from the initial surgery made this one somewhat unique. To compensate for this, in January 2011 I elected to have an additional, non-surgical procedure known as radio frequency ablation (RFA) to temporarily block the migraines while my new implants “settled in.” This treatment was fully effective.
I had another x-ray of my upgraded cyborg implants on November 11, 2010.
At this time we’re not certain that my current implants are blocking my migraines 100%, because some credit must go to the additional RFA treatment, the effects of which can last up to a year. But in the meantime I still keep my cyborg components charged and operational. And, so far, I remain migraine-free.