The nerve(s) of some people!!

I expect you’ve all heard the colloquial quip that says: “I ain’t got but one nerve left in my body and damned if you ain’t just got on it!” Well, I’ve got a lot of nerves left in my back and “damned if somebody didn’t get on all of ’em!”

I’ve been experiencing back pain off and on for well over 3 decades. It’s come to a head this year and needing some serious treatment. Previous steroid injections were effective for years, but no longer. As a result, I agreed to a procedure with my pain management doctor called a Radiofrequency Neurotomy or Medial Branch Nerve Ablation. That’s fancy medical talk for “we’re going to go in and fry those suckers up and serve them en brochette!”

Or more specifically, use needles to inject a numbing solution to all those nerves in the lumbar facet joints and then insert a “heat” needle to burn them. This will create a sort of blister that will eventually kill the nerves and prevent them from sending pain signals to the brain. Now you may be thinking “if he had a brain, he wouldn’t be subjecting himself to this”, but after so many years of pain and discomfort one will tend to “shoot the moon” looking for relief.

Radiofrequency ablation or “toasted fiber”.

On the positive side, this procedure does not affect the nerves that are important to the vibrancy and animation of muscles in the legs. But on the negative side, if it helps at all, (60-70% success rate), it will usually need to be repeated after a year as the nerve cells will regenerate. Eat your heart out little lizards with your grow-back tails.

As anyone who is about to let a doctor probe and manipulate the inner workings of your body like some alien abduction, I read up on the procedure quite extensively. Without exception, they all indicated that a type of IV sedation would be used to quell any anxiety for the patient. Right. And pigs fly. About 5-10 minutes in I realized they were sticking needles in my back already, but there was no IV in my arm. Hmmmm, I thought to myself, maybe it’s in my leg and I didn’t notice since I’m lying on my stomach. I didn’t want them to think I was a wimp, so I didn’t say anything. I am a wimp, I just didn’t want them to know it.

What the doctor saw during the procedure..

What I was really feeling like…

Afterwards, when I asked about the sedation, the nurse said “Oh no, we don’t do that, we want you to talk to us and let us know if we hit the wrong spot.” What?! Some things are best learned in the past tense. Turns out they use a local anesthetic with an IV. The worst pain I felt during the whole thing was no worse than the daily pain I often experienced anyway.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. It will be one to two weeks before the nerves actually die and it’s then that I will know if it was a success and a long-term solution. In the meantime, please don’t say anything that might get on my nerves, or at least wait until they’re dead.

23 thoughts on “The nerve(s) of some people!!

  1. Pingback: I’m finally getting hip… just takes me longer than most people. | The Cvillean

  2. You poor guy! I’m getting the heebie=jeebies just thinking about somebody sticking needles into my back. Hope your nerves are dead soon (why does that look so wrong???)

    • Yes, I was reminded of the moron who kept hitting himself in the head with a hammer. When asked why, he replied; “Because if feels so good when I stop.

      It felt so good when he said “We’re done.”

  3. I sure hope this works for you Al. My husband has had both hips totally replaced in the past year. They first tried an epidural flood. They sat him on the edge of a bed bent forward like a “C” with hands on knees. They told him it might sting a bit. He says they lied… stung a lot. He then made the mistake of checking out the monitor. He told me later seeing a long needle snaking around in his spine did not help with the light headedness. When I got to see him he had a cool washcloth on his forehead and he had a pasty greenish tinge to his face. I told him it wasn’t his best look. We both laughed. (I must confess I probably laughed harder). He did get his revenge when I had
    surgery later and I looked slightly pasty. It really tends to suck getting old.
    Praying the best for you Al that those nerves really did get fried correctly and it takes care of the pain.

  4. Ah the pleasures of getting older eh. No doubt when you were young and bored with your toys a kind parent or teacher remarked, “I know it’s tough now, but if you can just hang on a few decades we’ll get some peps to stick needles in your back, and all without anaesthetic.. Your going to love it!!”

    • Dead on right, Peter! When I was young I kept saying to myself “wouldn’t it be nice to live to a ripe old age.” What the hell was I thinking?

        • Very true, Peter, and I didn’t mean to imply I wasn’t extremely thankful for the blessings I have. Other than poor hearing and a sore back, I’m doing pretty well. Any time we’re up and about and taking in nourishment is to be celebrated!

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