On Monday, December 29, I will be having minor surgery to switch out my Baclofen pump. Because I have a spinal cord injury that is incomplete, I have muscle spasms. Most of the time they are full body spasms that include my legs, arms, and back; they last anywhere from 5 to 20 seconds. There is a medicine called Baclofen that helps with spasms and reduces the intensity of them. I take 15 mg orally a day. I also have a Baclofen pump that is inserted just below my skin on the right side of my abdomen. The pump has a catheter that runs around my back and is inserted into my spinal cord. I receive a total of 1189 micrograms (there are 2000 mcg/per milliliter) of Baclofen a day into my spinal cord to help reduce the spasms. Every six hours, the pump administers about 275 mcg, four times a day. When the drug goes directly into my spinal cord, it gets to me faster and bypasses my digestive system, absorbing differently.
My Baclofen pump was inserted in November of 2003. Every three weeks someone comes to my home to refill the pump with 18 mL of Baclofen. She sticks a needle into the center of the pump, draws out the remaining Baclofen, and refills it again. The pump is about the size of a hockey puck with a rubber stopper the size of an eraser head that the needle goes through. The battery life of a Baclofen pump is 5 to 6 years. When the battery runs low, the Baclofen pump will beep at a constant rate letting me know. It beeps for about a month before the battery dies, however, I wouldn't want get to the point where it beeps and I only have 30 days to schedule a surgery to replace it. That is one reason why I am going to have surgery to get my pump switched. I have my winter break from the middle of December through the middle of January, so the timing is convenient. Also, they have come out with a new kind of Baclofen pump called the synchromed 2. It is the same size, however, it holds twice as many milliliters. I will only have to refill it every six weeks instead of every three.
If I didn't have the Baclofen pump my spasms would be much worse than the description in the first paragraph. I would probably have to restrain my arms and legs to my bed rails, and hope that I wouldn't fly out of the bed. I am very thankful for my Baclofen pump and am excited to get the new one. Wish me luck! I will talk more about it after the surgery is complete.