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!

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