INDIO – After a 10-month wait, Mayor Michael H. Wilson will undergo spinal pain surgery Thursday morning, Aug. 30, at Riverside Community Hospital.
The surgery, scheduled as an outpatient procedure, is to replace the spine pain stimulator in his back that he has had for about 10 years. Spinal cord stimulation uses electrical pulses to stimulate nerves in the spinal cord, with the goal of interfering with the path of pain signals as they travel to the brain, according to Veritas Health.
A small device, about the size of a palm, implanted near the spine generates these pulses. The implanted generator used in spinal cord stimulation has similarities to a cardiac pacemaker, leading some to call the device a pacemaker for pain.
“At this point, it’s scheduled as an outpatient procedure but with any surgery it could result in a stay as well,” Wilson, 53, told Uken Report.
Around the world, some 14,000 patients undergo spinal cord stimulator implants each year, according to Veritas Health.
This is Wilson’s first replacement. “Usually they go five to seven years before replacement but I’ve lasted longer, like most areas of my life,” he said with a chuckle.
Wilson, who is the midst of a re-election campaign, will be on bed rest for about five to seven days.
“”Then, (I) will be back running and campaigning hard and strong,” Wilson said. “I don’t intend to lose. As my campaign slogan says, I’m experienced, effective, and committed.”
Wilson is a retired firefighter and former battalion chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) who has been on medical retirement since 2003 after being injured in the line of duty on three occasions – in 1990, 1995 and 2003.
“Believe it or not, mayors and councilmembers are humans, too,” Wilson said.
The Aug. 30 surgery will mark Wilson’s sixth. His past spinal surgeries were in 1995, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2008. He also underwent pacemaker surgery in 2012, which he says was also a duty-related injury. Exposure to toxins damaged the electronics in his heart, Wilson said.
“Some people remember when I could hardly even walk and talk,” Wilson said. “In fact, I walked my daughter down the aisle at her wedding with a walker. I’ve had a very hard and painful 28 years and still pushed through it to lead the city of Indio with great success. Nobody has more grit, fight, determination, and motivation than (me) … My favorite saying is, ‘What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.’”
Wilson is the second Coachella Valley councilmember within two weeks to confirm to Uken Report he is undergoing surgery. Cathedral City Mayor Pro Tem Greg Pettis is scheduled to undergo weight-loss surgery in Riverside on Saturday, Sept. 1.