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Saturday, November 13, 2010

It has been a while..Radio Frequency Follow Up

I realize it has been a month since my last update and I will explain why. The first radio frequency procedure, which I blogged about on the 13th of October was done after I had already spent 6 weeks in bed. Sadly the insurance companies are who decides who these procedures are doled out. I don't understand it because it seems, in my case at least, that their way of doing it is a waste of money and saves no one any time or money. I've had these procedures 5 times, and they have worked every time (this one included thankfully!). Yet the insurance company insists that I have to have the diagnostics done at two week intervals, followed by the radio frequency procedures (also at two week intervals). Before these can commence I have to return to a condition that requires these procedures. What this means is I have to return to being pretty much unable to function due to pain. Since I live in a part of the country where prescription abuse is pretty high, raising my pain medication during these times is not an option. This leaves me in extreme pain, all day long, for at least 2 months before they will even schedule the diagnostics. After the diagnostics I have to do a follow up with the doctor, who will then schedule the radio frequency. All told this means I was stuck in bed for almost 3 solid months, most of it spent in extreme pain without adequate pain control. All so I could go through hellaciously painful procedures, to control the pain. I get to repeat this process every 8 or 9 months or so because the insurance company demands I allow the radio frequency procedure to wear off completely, to see if my pain is as bad or worse than it was before.

The weeks spent in extreme pain are depressing, debilitating mentally and emotionally, and cause muscle loss due to inactivity, which can also increase the chances of a blood clot and other diseases. This is NOT good. Then comes the multiple appointments of painful procedures that increase the already high level of pain. These procedures cost in the thousands of dollars each time. There is no exception made for patients like me. Meaning patients who have a history of successful radio frequency ablation in their pasts, no new injuries and the same pain caused by the same conditions to just skip the diagnostic steps and save the insurance company 5 thousand dollars per test. (this is the amount listed on my EOB, explanation of benefits) for each diagnostic procedure. The radio frequency itself comes in at around 15 thousand. By demanding these diagnostics every time the insurance company is billed for 40 thousand dollars at the end of each cycle, when they only NEED to be billed for 30 thousand. (Trust me, they don't pay even half of the billed amount!)

Anyway, what happens when I am forced into such extreme levels of pain, and pain increasing procedures is I withdraw. All my mental and emotional energies are focused on making it through each day, and on many days making it through the next hour or even the next 5 minutes. I have no extra energy for anything else. Of course this triggers a depressive episode, which does NOT help the situation at all. End result, I get real quiet. This is why I was not posting here or on my stitching blog. I did manage to keep up with some emails, read a few blog posts from others, but not much more than that. I did do some stitching, but mostly I watched Law and Order on Netflix with my son's laptop and just withdrew from everything.

This time, after the radio frequency was done the Dr. decided to do toradol injections in the SI joints. I wasn't expecting it to help much. I was hoping to do radio frequency on both joints, but he preferred these injections. They use toradol on me as I can no longer do the steroid injections. Surprisingly this has brought decent results. So far they have only done the left side, but it has made it possible for me to get back to cooking dinner, doing some housework and laundry. My pain is A LOT lower than it was and I am out of bed.

However, coming out of that shell that I retreat into is more difficult. It becomes a matter of forcing myself to do things, whether I want to or not. Eventually the excitement and happiness of being able to do those things without paying for it with extreme pain, makes me realize that I am, once again, back to myself. Oh not the self I was years ago, but the self I was a few months ago. That realization and those wonderful feelings make it possible for me to continue to do things without as much mental effort of forcing myself.

But I have noticed that this gets harder every time I have to go through it. I am tired of having to return to a place of severe suffering every single day, just to satisfy some stupid insurance "rule" that really doesn't make sense in my case. I'm tired of having to live with extreme levels of pain, all day long, because I live in an area where prescription drug abuse is higher than in other areas. I have proven, over years and years, that I do NOT abuse my medication. That I am no addicted to it. Yet no exception can be made in order to try and control my pain better during those months that the insurance company demands I suffer through before they will allow the cycle of procedures to start up. I have a lot of anger over this and it is difficult to let this anger go because I am not the only one who suffers. My entire family suffers right along with me. They don't get the attention they usually do. And let me tell you a 3 year old child does NOT understand that pain is what is preventing her aunt from playing with her the way she usually does. To a 3 year old, I'm just ignoring her. My husband doesn't get the cuddling, discussions, support, etc. that he would normally get because I just don't have any extra energy to give to him. Same for my son, who also suffers in his school work because I can't sit at the table and teach him. Instead he is stuck pretty much learning on his own. My sister-in-law is stuck doing all the cooking, laundry and housework that is generated in a household of 6 people and 4 cats.

I resent that my family members have to go through this. I struggle with guilt, shame, fear, and anger..all of which combine into depression. Thoughts that if I weren't so "broken" I could be a better Mom, Wife, Aunt and Teacher. I struggle with fears that they will get tired of this and leave me. It gets harder every time I have to go through this to recover from the emotional and mental aspects, as well as the physical.

But I am still around and I am still fighting. Right now I am focusing on getting back to where I was 5 months ago. Here's hoping I can do it.

1 comment:

  1. I really understand what you are going through since I have had 3 radiofrequency procedures,2 last month after surviving the repeated diagnotic tests. I also wrote a blog about this same subject because I was angry with my insurance company. So, I pray that you do improve, I pray that your pain decreases, and that you find relief. Take Care!


Thank you for taking the time to read and/or comment on my blog. For people who are chronically ill and/or in constant pain, it can be difficult to socialize as frequently as we would like to do so. Talking with others online is a way for us to socialize, chat with others, make new friends, reach out to others in similar circumstances and many more positive effects.

Knowing that someone has read my posts and commented on it, helps in many ways. The biggest two being that it helps ease the feeling of being "alone" and that no one could possibly understand. Secondly, it reminds us that others truly do care and that just feels wonderful!!

Thank you very much for taking the time to read and/or comment on my blog, it really does mean a great deal to me and is helpful too!