Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with his back – pins and needles edition

Wish me luck folks.  Even as you’re reading this, I’m under general anesthesia while they do a thoracic intercostal nerve block to try and kill the horrible back pain I’ve been dealing with since January, when Paul Severe made his famous ambulance ride.

What happened?

All will be revealed below…

OK – this all started last December when I (in a horrified panic) bent over and yanked my 125-pound tube-filled vintage bass amp head up from the pavement after it had taken a 4′ fall onto concrete.  Just bent double and yanked it up.

About three days after that, I started having a stabbing pain in my mid-right back whenever I twisted my torso even a little. It was bad. Bad enough that it would wring an involuntary yelp out of me like a kicked dog. I began to refer to it as “Twist And Shout”.

After a few days, the yelps became screams.
Then, in one day in January, I got out of bed, went to the bathroom vanity, and it rose up and hit me so hard I couldn’t move.

I mean, not even shift my feet or take my hands off the vanity top. The once-intermittent pain was now continuous.

I’ve had discs rupture twice in my life, so I knew this was shorted-out back nerves. Barbara held a heating pad to my back as I stood there trembling with the horrible pain, and after an hour I managed to straighten completely up and hobble toward the bed. I collapsed on the bed and knew I had to go to the E.R., but I couldn’t move. Couldn’t even turn over in bed from the position I had collapsed into.

So – Barbara called an ambulance, and I got my first ambulance ride since 1978. I had a folded-up washcloth in my mouth to bite down on and muffle my screams. Every bump in the road wrung another scream out of me. I’m sure the neighbours got quite a show.

When we got to the E.R., they gave me an IV of Dilaudid and an anti-inflammatory, and sent me home (as a passenger in my own van).

After multiple MRIs and X-rays ruled out disc rupture or a separated rib, surgery was scheduled to inject both long-lasting anesthetics and steroids into my spine where the affected nerves come out. Which, of course, is where I am right now.




Because the needles and probes have to go so deep to get where the nerve is, there’s a slight chance they can puncture the lung. But only a slight chance. If it does work, I’ll finally (after over eight months) be able to function normally, get off the Norco (fuck your ‘war on opioids’, it’s all that works) , and be normal again.

Turning over in bed will no longer wake me (and of course, Barbara) up with a yell and I’ll be able to sleep through the night. If I bump my shoulder on the doorway walking through it, I won’t scream loud enough to scare the animals.  I may even quit beating my wife.

If it doesn’t work (or last), the next step is to go back in with a RF probe and just burn the damned nerve(s) out.

The funny thing?  My 1969 SUNN 2000S amp that I yanked off the ground in a panic?  Completely unharmed, with not a single tube broken.


I wrote to SUNN patriarch Conrad Sundholm (whose team was still building these monsters by hand in 1969) , who is still alive, and told him he was a magnificent bastard.

Someone’s going to be playing through this amp when I’m long gone.




4 thoughts on “Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with his back – pins and needles edition

  1. Here’s hoping the first procedure gets you relief. We sure want you back (no intended joke there) to your snarky, witty self ASAP

  2. Back home. Limited movement for the next 24 hours and no lifting over 10# for the next 48. It seems to have done the trick, but the long-term component of the injections can take up to two weeks to kick in.

    So far, though – I’m able to do everyday things that would have wrung a yelp out of me before, with no pain.
    Looking good!

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