Jenn Wolff required additional surgeries because of the pump, but still chose to keep it.
Writing a graduate thesis is an exhausting process for anyone; doing so on high doses of baclofen and Zanaflex while combatting relentless spasms isn’t the textbook way to make it easier. That’s the situation Jenn Wolff found herself in 2005. Eight years later, she says she barely remembers the experience, thanks to the multiple side effects her oral anti-spasticity cocktail had.
Her doctors suggested a baclofen pump might solve her problems while reducing her side effects. After a successful trial via a spinal tap, Wolff, who was an incomplete paraplegic because of a spinal tumor, decided to go ahead with the pump.
After the mandatory overnight stay following the surgery, Wolff was quickly back in the swing of things. “I don’t even remember the recovery period afterwards because it was so inconsequential,” she says. “Initially [the pump] made a huge difference … Number one, I could concentrate and I wasn’t as sleepy, and it also relaxed my muscles enough that I could retrain them at that time.”
A recurrence of the spinal tumor in 2006 changed Wolff’s functional status from incomplete to complete. With the change, Wolff’s spasticity naturally declined and the pump no longer made as big a difference. Still, Wolff kept the pump (which can be removed). She went in for her seven-year replacement earlier this year. The doctor found that the catheter had broken off, requiring another surgery to insert a new one. While Wolff said the catheter replacement wasn’t too difficult, she got MRSA during the procedure, leading to yet another surgery to clean out the wound.
This story is an excerpt from “Baclofen Pumps”, an article published in the May-June 2013 edition of Life In Action.
Story from United Spinal Association