09 september 2007


VNS: vagal Nerve Stimulation

Imagine a crushing sadness so severe it keeps you from eating, sleeping, or socializing. Though you can't sleep, you lack the energy and the will to get out of bed. Everyday decisions, like which clothes to wear, leave you paralyzed. You've no desire to do the things you once thought were fun; in fact, you can't bring yourself to do much of anything. Now, add to all that the realization that you've tried everything known to medicine, it hasn't worked, and there's a good chance you won't feel any different. Ever.

"I had nothing to lose," says Karmen McGuffee, who suffered from severe depression for a decade and was hospitalized five times for it. So she had surgeons cut open her neck, gently wrap an electrode around one of the nerves there, and plug the electrode into a pulse generator, which they slipped under the skin of her chest. About every 5 minutes, the pocket-watch-size device sends a buzz of current through the nerve and into her brain.

Six months after doctors switched on the pulse generator, called a vagus nerve stimulator, McGuffee's world looked totally different. "I had no idea that life didn't have to have a dark veil over it all the time," she says. Once unable to concentrate enough to read a newspaper, McGuffee is now an executive secretary. More.....

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