Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pain Pain, Go Away


They say, no gain!  I prefer: No pain, no pain!

If you know me you know I've had back pain since I was a kid. I took a bad hit playing bantam hockey at a game in Hamden when I was 13. I pummeled my head and neck playing football until that rainy Thanksgiving morning when we played Hillhouse in 1971 as the starting tight end when I happened to rupture my spleen on the opening kick off. 

All that self inflicted abuse resulted in 6 surgeries on my spine between 1978 and 2010. 

I've been on a personal quest all the while to find some relief from the constant, chronic and occasionally acute pressure and pain up and down my back and neck. If you go back to my very first entry in this blog you will see how it was this issue that got me writing to begin with.

You may have followed my journey to Mexico City where I hoped to be healed by the shaman who happened to croak before I had the chance to be see him. That was unfortunate.  For all involved.

I've been to every type of therapy, healer and specialist out there. I've tried every gimmick and device I could get my hands on. 

I took four years off from working and realized I was a happier, more fulfilled soul being productive, helping people and being engaged in making a difference. So I returned to work, got a good job, took all the difficult exams to get re-licensed and re-certified. And now I take my pain with me to work every day. It is there but I don't need to let it stop me or define me. 

I've received numerous cortisone injections at various levels of my lumbar vertebrae. Sometimes they help but usually only for a few days, a week or two at the most. 

Recently, my Pain Management doc suggested a new procedure. New to me anyway. I suspect it's been around for a while and I'm miffed no one mentioned it sooner. 

The procedure is called a Radio Frequency (RFA) Ablation. I think another word might be "cauterization". 

Simply put, I was mildly sedated at an out-patient surgical facility this past Monday morning at 8am. Still conscious, the doc made four injections on each side of my lower spine, eight in all. Each injection involved placing the tip of the needle right on the “foraminal" nerve at each each level. Those are the nerves that exit out the side of your vertebrae from the cord. A little burst of heat destroyed the nerve.  Bzzzztttt.  The entire procedure took ten minutes max.  I dozed off and was wheeled off to recovery. 

When I awoke I felt good. No low back pressure. No pain. I waited. It could have been the medication still having an effect. So I waited for it to wear off and for the pressure to return. Four days later and so far, so good. I'm walking taller. I feel great. Pain, my constant companion, is nowhere to be found. I'm optimistic that this is the real deal. The procedure is suppose to last for a year, maybe even two, before the nerves grow back and I would need to repeat the procedure. I can live with that. 

I have visions of playing golf, maybe reffing some hockey. Who knows. 

For now, as my our friend Flo, from Progressive says, I feel goooooood….real goooood.

UPDATE- 11/30/2015:  Well, that was a much ado about nothing.  No relief was all from the pain meds/anesthesia.

I've been through many appointments and find myself preparing for what will be my 7th back surgery coming up next week.  An L5-S1 MAS TLIF(Minimally invasive Surgery-Transforamenal Lumbar Interbody Fusion)  Looking forward to some relief.  I will update here as I go through the process.

Wish me luck! 


  1. Have you tried an inversion table? Not sure if it is contraindicated for your condition, but it certainly allows gravity to decompress what gravity has compressed! It helps relieve pain and pressure in the neck, arms and shoulders, lower back, knees and even ankles...wherever gravity impacts your joints. Some users swear by it! You can try it out at a sports/exercise equipment store, then find one online for a lot less; or at a resale sports/exercise equipment store. Hope you are doing much better!