Popular Science

I became a cyborg to manage my chronic pain

Implanting a new generation of spinal stimulators.
back scan

This scan of the author’s back shows the leads of her spinal-cord stimulator.

Janet Jay

I don’t remember what it feels like to live without pain. At 15, I began feeling aching, stabbing, and burning sensations in my lower back and down my legs. Swallowing a few Aleve didn’t help—in fact, nothing did. If I sit or stand for any period of time, or lift something heavy or fall, I pay for it, sometimes for weeks or months. I’ve slept on the kitchen linoleum, because the carpet felt too soft to stand.

For 17 years, I went to doctor after doctor, undergoing scans, physical therapy, and just about every “alternative” treatment that promised relief. Despite some amazing doctors and the expensive tests at their disposal, they could never see anything wrong, so I never got a diagnosis.

That is, until a couple of years ago, when a routine CAT scan finally caught a structural problem with my spine. Because of that, I qualified to have a spinal cord stimulator, an electronic device used to treat chronic pain, implanted into my back. Although I was scared to go under the knife, I was more than willing to become a cyborg in order to find even partial relief. And this type of therapy might also be able to help some of the 100 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain.

Janet Jay

The author, who has a cyborg implant, poses with another friendly machine at the Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane movie theater in Austin, Texas.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Popular Science

Popular Science6 min read
How To Enable Parental Controls On Netflix, Hulu, And Other Streaming Services
Stop kids from viewing inappropriate content. Hal Gatewood via Unsplash Streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu put a vast library of movies and television shows at your fingertips. But the sheer size of the repository makes it easier than
Popular Science3 min read
Wi-Fi Could Get Much Faster Thanks To A Proposed Change In The Wireless Spectrum
More space in the spectrum could free up room for additional devices. Pixabay Whether you’re sitting in a crowded Starbucks or in your busy home streaming Netflix, you want the Wi-Fi network to be fast. Earlier this week, the FCC suggested a change t
Popular Science4 min read
Credit Card Stolen Or Lost? Here's What To Do.
Your credit card information is vulnerable. Depositphotos It’s become a sad reality of the modern world: Someday, your credit card information will fall into the wrong hands. Maybe hackers will compromise the number in a large data breach like the re