Dear “The Pump”

Hello my friend.  It’s been a while.  This is overdue.  I want to thank you for all that you did for me during our time together.  

I know I initially tried to avoid meeting you, for a long time actually.  But our destiny was predetermined by forces out of my control: A little enemy called RSD. 

Remember when I met your prototype relative in the office?  The doctor said that the “real pump,” aka you, would be heavier, you’d be slightly more streamlined in shape.  Whatever that means.  It was odd, holding that little puck-shaped object and realizing that it had finally come to this.  The “last resort.”  After countless attempts at relief for a decade, I had overstayed my welcome in the OR.  Though we’d befriended everyone from the parking lot all the way to the surgical units, we had to scale way back on our monthly visits. When the nurses walk into the OR waiting area and know you AND your husband by name, that’s a problem. When they remember your child, that’s a sign you should maybe have wing named after you.  The surgical area is a department that people generally check in, have their procedure done and, chances are, won’t be back ever again. But we returned so often that we joked about which OR I liked and they tried to put me in it every time I was on the schedule.  Funny and sad simultaneously. But the staff was lovely to us and made us feel cared about.  That’s important, especially when you’re wearing an awful gown and you’re cranky and hungry, “nothing to eat or drink after midnight.” 

After the simulation/trial, I tried putting the surgery off for as long as I could. Why? Mainly because I imagined that I would die.  My head went to the darkest places possible. I was worried about my family.  I didn’t want another procedure. I didn’t want you to not work.  Plus, getting you had a catch.  A big one. In order to have the pump implantation surgery, I had to have my back fixed.  

I was born with a congenital spinal defect.  We didn’t even know about you until after the RSD diagnosis.  I’d just always had back pain.  It worsened over time. Before the repair,  I’d be walking along and suddenly have my legs drop out from under me. And the pain was excruciating.  The doctor told me I had two choices: 1) get the repair to stabilize my spine or 2) possibly end up paralyzed. It was an easy choice.  Horribly painful surgery and recovery, but obviously I made the right call. 

I’m relieved to say that you worked well for a very long time.  I guess we’ll never know why you completely stopped functioning.  Maybe you were tired. Maybe the universe was sending both of us a message: you’d overstayed your welcome and I didn’t need morphine to survive.  

Thanks to you, a few things have happened. First, I had to endure the worst 6 weeks I can ever remember – one word: withdrawal.  That was incredibly unfair.  I wasn’t prepared for that. Second, and don’t think for a minute that I’ll ever forget this, you did save my life and give me years of near-perfect relief. Thank you.  Third, and maybe most important, you broke.  You broke and helped me realize that my body could survive on the oral meds I still take every six hours of every day.  Your dysfunction helped remind me of my ability to function.  Not perfectly, but well enough that I have a renewed sense of purpose. Well enough that I know I’m not just a background player in my own life. That’s huge.  So thank you.  

As I wrap this up, we’re done and there’s no point dragging it out any more than needed, please know that I won’t forget you.  I’ll have that lovely three inch scar on my abdomen and the smaller one on my back to forever link us together.  

Goodbye,”the pump.”  Go help someone new.  Well, not you because that would be gross.  Go tell your relatives to work, help other people who need that near-perfect (or better!) relief right now.  

Thank you, 




  1. Chrissy

    Goodbye is never fun, except in this case. You are stronger than you know – congratulations! On to the next phase!! Well said, as always.


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