Submitted by Cathy Cuff-Coffman

This is Part 7 of Cathy’s multi-part blog series, documenting journey with a Baclofen pump implantation. You can read Parts 1-6 here.

The Surprises

After a week of constantly increasing my intrathecal baclofen dosing, I got a welcome surprise.

The constant screech of pain I’ve been living with for the past two years (out of four years of injury) has suddenly become a continuous snare drum buzz.

And it doesn’t ask for a single downbeat of heavy medication.

I have spoken with other spinal cord injury warriors, and to a person, everyone lives with some chronic pain. My extreme spasticity had ramped my pain up like a slow crescendo. It was bearable at first, but two weeks ago, I was taking three Tramadol a day and sleeping “maybe” three hours a night.

Additionally, I was taking a doctor-supervised dosing of oral baclofen that was more than I should have been taking. This came with some unwanted side effects, most notably “brain fog,” short-term memory retention, and general disinterest in things going on around me.

But yesterday, I noticed that my pain level has dramatically diminished while my brain power is peeking through the fog. I can sleep through the night–even in a hospital–and according to my Apple Watch, my sleep quality is good.

That being said, my sessions in the gym with the therapists illustrate how much damage living with the pain and high tone has done. I’ve got a lot of work to do on my right side, but I’m up for the challenge because my pain is reduced, and my mind is clear.

The therapists are great at coordinating my OT and PT activities, so I get maximum work. They also give me bands, tools, and other little gifts to use in my room.

Speaking of surprises, I received a “care package” from several school-time friends. Among other things, they included a fuzzy blanket throw. My neurologist came in, “oohed and ahh’ed,” and, without missing a beat, said, “Is this from Tracy and the girls?”

I did a double take until he pointed to the gift card lying on the bedside table.