Monday, February 27, 2012

Don't be a Spaz

I remember this from way back in childhood, and we really didn't know what it was.

Muscle spacticity has turned out to be the most difficult part of the recovery process that Pete has dealt with. A little over 3 years ago, he had a pump implanted that would send a constant dose of a wonder drug called Baclofen into his spinal column. The purpose of the drug is to keep the lower body spaciticy in check. For the first pump got badly infected and he had it removed and a new one put in almost 2 years ago. Up until around October or November, things changed substantially.

Although he has LESS spacticity, the medication is just not working right or at least as they had been. This has caused a few falls (and I suspect a few more than he's told me about), a few times where he's ended up walking around curled up like an old woman and he is in way more pain than any of us like to see. All of this is affecting his mood and his general get up and go.

There are a couple of things they can/have done, including taking X-Rays to confirm the catheter is threaded properly into his spine (check) and injecting some dye into the pump to see if it's going through (check). What they are doing today is giving him a bolus dose of the baclofen and then retesting him to see how it is working. If he has a remarkable improvement in the toning, then there's something wrong with the pump and it has to be replaced. If he does not, then they have to figure out what's going on with Pete.

There is a very slim possibility he is resistent to the medication. The nurses have told me they have seen this only a handful of times in their years of dealing with baclofen. If that's the case, they have their ways of trying to jumpstart the system. He is obviously getting some baclofen, an immediate dropoff causes really severe withdrawal symptoms up to and including the ultimate symptom that shall not be discussed. But it is clearly not enough to do the job and it could be we're in the "as good as it gets" territory. The spacticity is not bad enough that he cannot function at all, but is bad enough that his funciton is way more limited than we had hoped, and substantially more limited than it was just a few months ago.