Baclofen Pump Number Four

Hospital admission again for Pump No. four

Seven years have passed, and the time has come to go in for another procedure. It is time for Baclofen pump number four. Again under the watchful eye of the NHS. Baclofen pump number three has run its course.

Alarm

A baclofen pump can only last so long as the battery, and of course, we know there is no such thing as an everlasting battery. Or is there?

I knew it was going to happen. Even so, preparing yourself mentally for hospital admission can be difficult. Concerns of hospitality standards, how good will the food be, as it will contribute to the speed of recovery, will my family be Ok without me at home, can they visit, will I be in a room on my own or mixed with other patients in a four or six-bed bay, can I get a bed next to a window? All these worries and more keep drifting into my mind.

At my last refill in April, the Dr said that the battery life would expire and the alarm will sound around August which will give three months to arrange the replacement. To insert pump number four.

Not expecting the alarm to go sound at all, I thought I would get called into the hospital before it went off, as it is an electronic gadget. But August the 26th I think it was, I thought I heard a beep. I just put it down to a noise coming from a computer game being played elsewhere in the house by my son and didn’t think anything more of it.

Baclofen pump

Did you hear that?

I am unsure but think I hear another adhoc beep occasionally during the next day? Although I’m not sure!

At 10 pm I transfer into bed and beep. There it is, a definite beep, my wife heard it too. Then every hour, on the hour, beep…….. beep…….. beep.

The next morning

I’m on with Outpatients (OP) at my spinal injuries centre as soon as I get home from the school run. With relief, the phone gets answered surprisingly quickly. Explaining to the nurse what I heard, I get an appointment to see Dr Rajan the following Tuesday.

Funnily, over the weekend I was able to keet time pretty well. The pump was announcing the hour, every hour. Although the beep was sometimes drowned out by background noise. It was certainly there.

Headding out

I take a trip over to the spinal injuries centre for my appointment. A new building is always being erected every time I visit. It feels like the place is a constant mess of a building site. And there seem to be even fewer parking spaces. I disembark the car after finding a spot on the road edge and raced to an entrance.

When I have visited in the past, for my refill, there was a particular door I had to use to gain access. There is restricted access to the hospital due to COVID. I have parked ‘round the back‘ and the usual door is located at the front of the building. Although I just wheel up to the nearest door and allow myself to enter, I pass several staff members without anyone questioning me. I guess they all have a million and one other things to worry about?

The appointment

I check-in and get at the reception desk. A form to read and sign is passed to me. This is just to confirm I and double jabbed and I haven’t been in contact with anyone with COVID symptoms and that I haven’t got any. At the entrance to OP, I get my temperature taken. I get the all-clear. I wheel into room five.

Enter Dr Rajan

I wait patiently in the room for the Dr. Contemplating whether I would have enough time to justify retrieving my book from my bag? It’s a good one at the minute! Alas no, Dr Rajan enters the room and I go through what happened again. Dr Rajan waves a hand, pushing aside my worries. He says something along the lines of ‘it isn’t a problem and we can get it sorted’. I’m passed a gadget to gold against my skin where the pump is inside me. He starts tapping away at the gadget he is holding, so it communicates to the pump – all very clever!

NSCI Stoke Mandeville
National Spinal Injuries Centre

‘The battery is running low‘ he confirms after a few moments of me holding the instrument.

I’ve known Dr Rajan for a long time and always have confidence in his procedures and diagnostics. He says he’s going to check I’m on the pump replacement waiting list in his office. I’m left thinking should I get my book out to keep my mind away from what’s I suspect is coming. He quickly returns to say I’m not on it, but he will go to see the Consultants secretary straight away, in order to get me added. After a few minutes, he returns to say I am now on it and to wait for a call.

The call comes

Last week the call came in. to tell me I will go under the knife in early October for Baclofen pump number four. 10 to 14 days as an inpatient.

I have a chance to ask questions 12 days before the procedure in a pre Op assessment.

Training paused

All wheelchair skills training has had to be rescheduled till a later date, due to the procedure I will be going through. Sorry if this causes any inconvenience to anyone.

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