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Keeping you posted about VNS Therapy

Posted by juanantoniod on December 6, 2005, at 23:59:15

In reply to Re: Please keep us posted!, posted by juanantoniod on November 17, 2005, at 2:39:58

Hi all,

In my last post, I was distraught because my psychiatrist, who I had awaited to see for approval of and agreement to manage VNS Therapy for Depression, had said that he was not interested in “wasting his time” learning anything from “Barbies in suits” (drug reps). So, Friday night, I emailed my Case Manager (“CM”) at Cyberonics with the names of some of the nearby cities in Los Angeles.

In the meantime, Herb, was kind enough to post the name of a psychiatrist and surgeon that were a bit too far from me, as I take public transportation.

So, I waited to hear from my CM and had not heard from her by the time I woke up on Monday. I called her and she was just getting the list together to email back to me, so she gave me the names over the phone (and also emailed them after). Anxiously, I called the first one on the list, a doctor in Glendale. I answered the usual standard new patient questions over the phone and told them that I have “Medi-Medi” (Medicare with Medi-Cal (Medicaid in most states). The doctor’s assistant said he didn’t usually take this and she would have to ask him.

By his grace, the doctor agreed to take what Medicare paid and write off the rest, since they couldn’t bill me for this because I am on Medi-Cal. I was very grateful and said thank you. The assistant told me that I was to come in at 12 noon on Tuesday. I verified the office address with her, then hung up the phone.

Today, I arrived at the office very early because I didn’t want to be late, as I was relying on public transit. It was a good thing that I was early because I had to fill out the usual litany of forms regarding health and mental health history. I completed these forms with the help of my partner, and waited…patiently.

Then I started to worry. Would this be a doctor that wanted me to endure yet another trial of useless medication? Was there anything new on the market that I did not know about and had not yet tried? I did not think so. I waited…

Eventually, I was called in and greeted by a warm, smiling man with dazzling Aqua eyes. I told him why I was there and his response hinted that he was aware who I was. We discussed the therapy in detail; I told him all of what I had heard and read about it and he was impressed with how much I already knew. He proceeded to fill out a form which assessed my candidacy for the treatment. I believe this form is the back of Cyberonics’ IVEA form. At the end of the form, he announced that I was definitely a candidate for the procedure and asked if I had any questions.

I presented my concern about vocal cord paralysis and he said he had never heard of that happening, except perhaps when the vagus nerve was being stimulated. That, I already knew. My partner expressed his concerns and feelings and the doctor answered those as well.

We concluded by discussing where I might have the surgery and he said that Cyberonics would be in touch with me to arrange the next step. I got home and emailed my CM at Cyberonics and am now awaiting the next step.

For what it’s worth, I want to have this done this month, if possible, so I am eager to get started right away. I just got my issue of Cyberonics’ Connections Newsletter and read a further study that showed the efficacy of this procedure. I also read a patient’s perspective that said she had improvement by 10 weeks, but that her family noticed it even before then, at 6-8 weeks. She says that even after 2 years, she continues to improve every day.

I will continue to keep you posted along my journey. If there are any specific questions for me, please post them here.

Best regards,





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