The surgery’s simple goal of replacing two failing Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) batteries with a single rechargeable design does not do the procedure justice. Nearly five years with the original twin pulse generators had suckered me into a feeling of relative normalcy. That is, until the failing battery implanted in the left side of my chest dropped below a voltage threshold of criticality, reinvigorating Parkinson’s symptoms barely felt for half a decade.
Feeling like a frustrated bystander, I looked on as my physical abilities deteriorated. Endurance and strength slowly eroded while practicing hot yoga, a discipline that had provided me with a steady meditative platform, as well as an arduous, balance-honing workout. My Parkinson’s symptoms reappeared in a demoralizing downward spiral while awaiting surgery.
That started to change while on the operating table ten day ago, although it will be five more weeks of limited physical activity before I can begin my self-directed rehab. I know that exercise will make everything feel better.
In the meantime, the new battery’s increased capabilities astound, allowing me to drop my daily dosage of Levodopa by almost a third. The electrical signal parameters of the improved battery are different than the old, with an expanded capability to pinpoint exact spots along each of the two electrodes in my brain, one affecting the left side of my body, the other the right.
At my first follow up visit with the neurologist, she programed the battery controller to a range of settings based on my symptomatic response, allowing me to adjust one variable—pulse amplitude—at home. The upper amplitude limit is defined by a visible increase in dyskinesia and a mental fogginess; the lower by the minimum setting required to eliminate debilitating dystonia and the need for canes. So far, I haven’t had to adjust the settings.
Imagine that: an artificial change in the electrical wave’s amplitude to one side of my brain directly impacts my awareness and ability to achieve stillness, while maintaining the necessary current to enable walking—or skipping—with nary a limp. Electrical energy, all energy, for that matter, influences us in amazing and unseen ways.