Weight a Minute…

Clever wordplay. For fun. Welcome, nobody reading, to my latest diatribe.

Today’s pain level: 4/10.

When one (in this case, me) breaks, say, a back, their ability to do exercise can diminish greatly. Growing up, I was in excellent shape, was in sports, and prided myself on my ability to stay active. Do not read that to mean I was an amazing athlete. I wasn’t. I was pretty average, albeit could run fast. So unless I am in the Olympics or trying to outrun police, it wasn’t really a skill set that was going to get me places.

As I got older, I wouldn’t say I stayed in the greatest shape, but I also wasn’t out of control. Being in a happy marriage with a great child, I had obtained the “dad bod”. Not a big deal, I wasn’t gaining any more weight, at least.

After the incident, I became a guy with a dad bod who looks like he may have eaten another guy with a dad bod. A lot of things stopped…any walking for more than maybe 10-15 minutes at a time, going to the store and shopping, being able to do tasks at home, that sort of thing.

“Steve, you mean you were able to get out of housework? Stop complaining, man!” writes a fictional person.

That is all nice for a short time, but even standing for periods past 10 or 15 minutes was a nightmare. Aside from weight gain, what is worse is the mental toll it takes on you, and then in turn, on people around you. Depression is not a joke, or something easily fixed. My favorite people are the ones who are ridiculously over-simplistic and say “Cheer up!” or “Eh don’t worry about it!”

After punching them in the face repeatedly in my mind, I just give the old head nod, smile, and act like I care about their advice. That said, I understand where they are coming from. I USED to be that person. Extended depression did not happen to me before so I couldn’t understand people who suffered from it. I would start assaulting karma now, but in the event karma is real, I will only say “You look nice today, Karma!”

Finally, after 7 years, I am committing to a life change. The goal? One-hundred pounds. I am at 33 pounds, and still have a long way to go. Now that I have hit the 30 mark, I am going to start incorporating light exercise. Two or three times per day I will attempt to walk for 20 minutes. Losing weight will alleviate physical stress, I know that. So if you see me out and about (pray that you don’t) and I am in a McDonald’s drive-thru, I give you express permission to chloroform me (make sure the car is in “park”) and drop me off in a corn field somewhere with no cell phone or way to get home.

I am not a therapist, but while depression is real, overcoming ANY obstacle requires action. So here we go.

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Radiofrequency Ablation

Howdy!

Radiofrequency Ablation is fun to say. It’s more fun to say than it is to actually receive it. That said, after hundreds of injections into my back over the years, it wasn’t that bad.

This procedure can be performed for multiple issues, but in my case it was for pain management in my lower back. It’s a super fancy term for “burning your nerves”. Relief, according to Wikipedia, can last 3-15 months. I am nine months in, and I can feel it wearing off on the right side.

We went crazy and burnt nerves from my L4 to L1 on each side of my back over a two week period. Here’s a synopsis of the event. Buckle up!

First you go in to get your IV put in and your wife starts to get antsy in the pantsy because she doesn’t like watching the process. I found it amusing, in my case. Especially because the nurse had to dig around. While the nurse was very apologetic, all I said was “Do your worst.” Before being poked by a million needles in the last 7 years, I probably would have passed out.

Fentanyl.

Yes, fentanyl. That’s what I was given to make me loopy. It did. They do not put you under for the procedure so you can be alert enough to react/discuss the INSANE BURNING SENSATION. My favorite part:

Doctor: “Steve, let me know if it gets too hot for you.”
Steve: I believe I may have said “Okay.” It could very well have been “Hmmkrayyy.”

After a short time, I could really feel it burn and told him, as per his instructions.

Doctor: “That’s ok, you only have 40 seconds of it left.”

At this point I was too far out of my mind to really care. In retrospect, I would have liked to have said “If I carve into your chest with a rusty butter knife and it starts to hurt, let me know! It will only last 40 seconds after that.”

In all seriousness, he is a hell of a doctor. He took a lot of time with me prior to the appointment, and really puts you at ease.

He said it could take 1-5 weeks for it to really kick in…kind of a wide window. My left side (the side done first) kicked in within a week. Very exciting!! My right took almost 4 weeks. I was getting a little anxious that it might not have worked.

UPSIDE

Since the procedure, I have used my cane one time since. It was common for me to use it multiple times a month. When I got out of bed I could stand up straight, where it usually took me a few hours to do so.

DOWNSIDE

You can only do this a few times, as the nerves will start to grow back in “goofy”. After that, I will be set up for a spine transplant with a deceased prisoner. I have asked for someone who has a record of violence, as they probably had a strong back. I specifically asked to not have some weenie financial crime person’s “spine”. I mean, come on.

Of course that is not what will happen. They mentioned a spinal cord stimulator. I briefly looked that up and got very bored, very quickly. I imagine I will revisit it if it becomes a possibility.

Until next time, stay off the fentanyl!

Welcome

I am going to pretend that at least one person will read this. Blogging can be weird because you have to act a lot like you are talking to an audience. Well, you don’t HAVE to. I’m already way off topic.

Shocker.

Anywhooze, here is the deal in a nutshell…

I started to have some back problems in the Early 2000’s. I had an MRI done and the doctor indicated I had a very small crack between my L5 and S1. Off and on for about ten years I would have sporadic pain. Sometimes very minor, and other times there was pain so great that I could barely walk.

In July of 2011, I took my wife and daughter to Naperville, Illinois to meet family. It’s the halfway point and I would drop them off every July and would go get them again around a month later. Pretty routine. On the way home I felt fine. No issues with my back.

I woke up the next morning and couldn’t walk. I could not move my left leg at all and my back was just screaming at me. I had never in my life felt this kind of pain. I’ve broken bones, had sports injuries, and have listened to Air Supply. I know what pain is. So, because I am an idiot (something those who know me already know), I got to the floor of my upstairs bedroom, crawled out to the stairs. I am stopping all the time because I was in agony.

I tossed my cell phone down the stairs because why use it to call an ambulance? Duh. I slowly crawl down the stairs. This entire time I have no usage of my left leg and barely my right. After what felt like hours, I got downstairs, grabbed the phone, crawled through the dining room, kitchen, and then into the garage to the car. Getting in the car was no small feat. I had enough movement in my right foot to justify that I could operate a vehicle.

Stupidity at its finest.

I leave to the hospital. Halfway there I call the ER and tell them the story and I was on the way. I pulled up and was met by staff who put me on the cart and rushed me in. The security officer parked my car and brought me my keys later. Luckily no one was hurt due to my ignorance/arrogance (and any other words that end with “ance”) while driving.

Several paragraphs ago I said “in a nutshell”. I lied.

So long story short I was in the hospital for a week. No one in town from my family, and was pretty much alone. My L5 and S1 separated and I was introduced to morphine. Gross. I am not a person who thinks being chemically altered helps me. This was on a Sunday. On the next Thursday, I had started to get a little feeling in my left leg, and could actually raise my foot enough to use crutches.

They had me practicing with them several times on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Prior, I had a back brace on that could make Batman jealous. So Friday I lied and said I was fine enough to go home and I did.

I had three visitors that week. An employee of mine. A friend who brought me new underwear because I felt gross, and the owner of my favorite pizza place with a pizza. They didn’t have a delivery service. He is an amazing guy.

I went back to work the next week, and barely did anything thanks to my pain meds. Then what did I do? I DROVE TO MICHIGAN. Why? I was meeting my family and we were surprising my daughter and were going to Disneyworld. WE FLEW THERE. I’m rotating between a wheel chair and crutches. The whole thing, looking back, is almost a blur. A veritable plethora of idiocy.

In September I was able to get in for surgery. It was a PLIF, or posterior lumbar interbody fusion. It’s a fancy way to say spinal fusion. 4 screws, 2 rods, a cadaver bone, an 8 inch scar, and 25 staples later, and there I was. Drooling. For 5 weeks.

“It will get better and you will be 100 percent by around 8 weeks!” said the doctor, who was clearly batshit insane.

Seven years later and two more smaller back surgeries later, I still have pain 24 hours a day. I sleep 3 to 5 hours a night. Never consecutively.

I will use this space to chronicle pain issues, remedies, solutions, and lots and lots of whining. That much I can tell you for free.

Welcome!