Hi all, Brian Smuda here. Many of you know about my Tourette’s I’ve always had. Well there’s more than that… Tardive Dyskinesia (a rare side effect to medications for assisting with my Tourette’s)
Hope you don’t mind if I skip 25+ years of the lead up to this condition, its pretty hard to type as is. Stating at the end of June I was entered and accepted into the Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) patient program at Hartford Hospital. The condition was, and is still as I write this, very bad. Endless muscle movements of the whole upper body and face. DBS, this was the next step.
Phase 1 - AHHH! Arrive at the hospital around 6am after not eating or drinking since 12pm the night prior. No worries, right? Yea I just had to try to sleep comfortably on an empty stomach knowing what’s about to happen in six hours. After arriving I had my vitals taken and then waited until the Operation Room was ready for me. I was wheeled in around 8am and had to be knocked out for the dozen or so Doctors and Nurses to get what they needed done. During that time I was set up in an metal head brace while asleep to make sure of zero movement on my part. No, no playing guitar. It’s not Greys Anatomy. After being under for two hours, the case nurse contacted my family in the waiting room to say that they had just spent the past two hours mapping my brain for the most precise location. It was time. I would be asleep for another four hours as their team focused to insert two implants through a 14mm incision on my head. It’s somewhat obvious, but still crazy, they had to drill through my skull to reach the objective of getting these implants down to the deepest, most core, part of the brain which controls my movements called the globus pallidus internus (GPi).
Post Op - HORRAY! I’m awake, alive, appear bald and have a bandage covering up the two insertion points for each one of the DBS implants. Making any facial expressions or open mouthed-twitch actually stretched open where the staples were. That felt ‘funny’ which I use often in place of using the word ‘gross’. I now had the two implants as well as all the wiring under the skin on the right side of the head for Phase 2 down the road. The Post Op was quick and recovery was speedy. I am quite used to pain from dealing with the continual muscle twitching for so long. This allowed me to only need some Tylenol per the hospitals request to help with the swelling. It was fun cracking jokes and laughing with staff throughout the whole process, but doing the same after was just that more special to me knowing I still had my personality intact.
Dismissal Day - The very next day after brain surgery I was out of the hospital around Noon! I was feeling tired and totally needed some rest. It was hot out this time of year so I hid inside for a while knowing I needed to elevate my head up and recover. The morning I woke up at home with half my face swollen and itchy due to the brain fluid building up on that side (I apparently didn’t sleep with my head elevated). Not long after that I picked up some energy and made that Peak Resorts video (8 days after surgery - the word ‘video’ is a link of visiting all 7 North East Peak Resorts in under 24 hours).
Phase 2.1 - A month has since gone by and I’m ready to get this bubble of wiring out of the side of my head. It was also my 32nd birthday that day. I got put under again so the Doctors could do their work. They tunneled the wiring from my head and down through my neck into my chest where Phase 2.2 happens and they install the battery/control pack.
Phase 2.2 - A battery/control pack is implanted in my right pectoral. It was very difficult to lay anywhere close to on my right side for a week or so. Three days after this surgery I had to start going in for programming which was Aug 31st. The next day I was up for the chance to attend Mount Snow’s 24th Annual Brewer’s Festival. I’m five years sober but its AWESOME to see all of you up there and spend that moment with my Mountain Family. I still haven’t missed a fest since turning 21 in 2007!
LIFE NOW - Sept 22nd 2018 and I require weekly to bi-weekly visits to get programmed. This procedure was intended for Parkinson’s patients but science has since shown it to be effective for many other conditions. To be honest with you I like having this public for everybody to learn about new things. I am sad, I cry daily, buy I do have the hope that 3-5 months from now I will be able to control my body to be able to ski again. Last year I was scared to ski, I lost my balance half of the days on the slopes and started falling. I ended up actually breaking my wrist in January and took the first Yard Sale of the season at Mount Snow as a earned First Chair then immediately fell later going down that FIRST RUN!
I really hope to ski again and would love to meet more of our customers! Feel free to email, call, or comment to go ski (fingers crossed)
(EDITED July 19th 2019 for typos I found)