A most curious cadence

All things change, as they must, to the hands of an unfamiliar clock, one to which circumstance marks no cadence.

Lithium batteries have a notoriously sharp drop-off rate toward the end of their charge, so it should not have surprised me when my Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) system’s left battery voltage—which affects the left side of my brain and right half of my body—fell off precipitously approaching the five year mark since hardware installation. Still, despite knowing that the higher draw left battery would be the first to fail, I was caught flat-footed.

With some creative schedule massage by the Nurses and staff at Swedish, my battery replacement surgery was moved up by two months. In hindsight, I should have requested the “one for two” sale (both old batteries will be replaced by a single rechargeable with a 15-year warranty) back in July, before I started to power down.

The net result is a rapid return toward my pre-DBS Parkinson’s symptoms, despite moving up each dosage of levodopa (i.e. cheating) in an attempt to counter increased lethargy, stiffness, pain, and dystonia. It’s back to two to three hours of nightly sleep, usually from 9:00 pm to 11:00 or midnight, with maybe another hour around 7:00 am if I’m lucky.

Familiar feelings of desperately wanting to participate in physical activity, but being unable to do so, are a source of frustration. Nine days until surgery, and then six weeks of light lifting only. The boredom will be difficult, for Laurie mostly, as she valiantly endures my unique blend of nuanced whining and hardcore complaining. It shall require the patience of a Tibetan Monk and the soothing manner of a Drill Instructor.

My rapid return to pre-DBS discomfort is humbling, but I seem to be adapting and my mood is good. I guess I’ve learned—and re-learned, several times—that negativity just makes a bad situation worse, and in the grand scheme of things this ain’t so bad. There’s also the tremendous carrot of a new, topped-off battery potentially reversing things for the better, at least for a time.

And so, this most curious dyskinetic cadence goes on…

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