I didn’t sleep very well last night. I stayed asleep when my dogs lost their minds over an animal in the field that I was told about when I got up a little after 7 am. But I had nightmares. Considering how hard, I’ve hit Buried Dreams lately. One would think I was having nightmares about serial killers or something book related. This is not the case.
In July, when I met with my pain management doctor he asked for permission to research solutions for me. Specifically, the fact that I’m not allergic to metal, but magnetism. This means I was expecting what happened yesterday morning and was prepared for it. That doesn’t make it any less scary. And it was this that haunted my dreams last night.
Titanium is a non-magnetic metal. The electrical spinal stimulator that does help some people with CRPS comes with titanium electrodes. He has wanted to implant a test device for a while and I have been unwilling to give my consent, because you know… metal in my body and all that.
He doesn’t believe it will be a problem. After all, I have had a silver amalgam filling since 1995; one of my adult teeth grew in with a hole in it at the gum line and the first porcelain filling lasted less than three days. And it’s never been a problem. I’ve been told the silver powder keeps it from being able to be magnetized despite it having tin and copper in it.
I have agreed to do the test e-stim unit. I’m hopeful it will help. I’m also terrified. I’m worried about the more obvious issue; titanium running electricity into my spinal cord might cause a reaction as if it were magnetized metal. But, I have an anxiety disorder which means I can think of all sorts of way this could go wrong…
For example, I know the “cord” between the box and titanium electrode is short, but it’s still insulated wire. And my reading suggests it’s insulated copper wire. Copper wire running electricity reactions like magnetized copper wire. What if the insulating sheath becomes damaged and my body is exposed to the copper wire, even just a little bit? What if the titanium isn’t pure and so I react to the impurities in the titanium? What if the place that makes it, makes items with surgical steel and because cross contamination does happen, there is surgical steel particles on the unit they implant and I react to those, because I have serious problems with surgical steel.
What if the trial goes fine and we move forward with the implementation of the permanent device and it doesn’t go as well? There is less stuff implanted during the trial than with the full device. And I have to think about what if I don’t immediately have an allergic reaction to it? I mean when I pierce my ears, it can take a week or more for the allergic reaction to start. When I pierced my ears with titanium studs about ten years ago, they were fine for four weeks. And then one morning I woke up and my ear lobes were very sore, they were red, they itched like mad, and when I took the stud out, pus came with them. I cleaned everything really well and left the studs out for a day. The following day, my ear lobes were fine. They didn’t itch, they weren’t red, they weren’t leaking pus, and I put the studs back in after three days. I woke up the following morning with itchy, red, hot ear lobes and my holes were leaking pus again. Now, I can wear those studs for a few hours, but not longer without my ear lobes again becoming red, itchy, hot masses of pus.
Fast forward to using niobium. Like titanium and silver, niobium is a non-magnetic metal. It’s considered a hypoallergenic metal too. I can wear niobium earrings a little longer than titanium earrings, but by a little longer, I mean just an hour or two longer. For my wedding, I bought nickel-free “silver” earrings. I made it through the ceremony (all fifteen minutes of it), and about half the reception before the itching began. I took them out at that point, and as I removed them I noticed my ear lobes were warm to the touch. So, I could be fine for the seven day test unit but six weeks after inserting the permanent device, I worry I’ll have an allergic reaction to it or a year.
Right now, I’m scheduled to have the test device done December 9 and removed December 16th. I have to have a psychiatric evaluation before then. I hope to be able to discuss these fears with her and get her opinion. I do know, it’s going to be a very long two months.