Drawing from Life Once Again...

Well, I finally had the Ablations done on my Sacroiliac joint. It's been 3 days since the procedure actually took place, and I still have a fair amount of pain to contend with. I'm not too worried at this point. since I was told that it could take up to 10 days to really feel any serious change thanks to the procedure. However, a small part of me is worried that my pain will not disappear by then, and that the discomfort which has been my constant companion for the last 2-3 years, will still be there. But, I'm going to give it time first, and then decide whether I should celebrate or cry when the 10 days are up.

However, that's not what I really want to dwell on today. What I really want to talk about is what I went through leading up to and at the doctor's office where the procedure took place. Now, I want to tell you all right off the bat, that EVERY person there was amazing and sweet to me, which helped a lot. 

You see, in the days leading up to the procedure I found myself ever so slightly nervous about what was to come. 

There was an understandable mixture of hope and fear deep about the procedure, which was extremely hard to just ignore. On top of that, I live on the west coast in California, where we've been having a weekly series of atmospheric rivers hitting us. And the coming week of my procedure was no exception. Now most of the storms that have hit us tended arrive on Mondays (which was also the scheduled day for my Ablations). Luckily, this one arrived the day after my procedure (phew). 

My wife Helen's mother came to stay with us to act as my driver, since Helen doesn't drive for health reasons. The doctor's office had given me strict instructions to have someone else drive me to and from the facility where my procedure was to take place.  They warned me I'd be in no shape to handle even a short drive, and they weren't kidding. I was barely able to get up out of the wheelchair and into my mother-in-law's car down in the parking garage. Oh, did I mention the distance from my place to the doctor's office was a good 30-45 minute drive up and over a mountain range? So I was really grateful for my mother-in-law being on hand to act as my driver.  

We got up at 5:30 in the morning and were on the road about a half hour later. The drive was a bit on the quiet side, partly because it was a bit dark out and we were on some very twisting and hilly roads. And of course, I was lost in thought inside my head about how things would unfold.

Well, we got to the facility (on time) and I went in alone (since they didn't allow me to have someone waiting in the office lobby due to Covid concerns). I was taken in pretty quickly and settled onto a gurney to wait for them to prep the room where the procedure would take place. There was another lady who was scheduled ahead of me due to her having arrived a little late for her own appt. Luckily, the staff took good care of me in the meantime and kept me comfortable.

Eventually it came to be my turn to go into the treatment room. 

This wasn't my first time being wheeled on a gurney, but watching the light fixtures passing overhead, I kept thinking 'It's finally going to happen. Hope I'm ready for this...' You see, I had opted for just local anesthesia instead of being lightly sedated, because they needed me to be awake to an extent for the procedure. I hadn't liked the idea of being fully sedated for the procedure (I hadn't realized they had been planning on having me lightly sedated instead). I could've changed my mind there and then they told me, but I chose to stick with just local anesthesia. I wanted to experience the whole process so I could really give good feedback, and also I was mentally taking notes of everything that happened. I say this because, I was already thinking about using this experience and giving it to a character (not that I had one in mind yet) to use in a story one day down the road. 

You see, I believe in the concept of drawing upon actual life experiences for my writing. And it seems I do it all the time. Every so often I'll find myself subconsciously taking notes about a place I'm going, what I'm seeing, how it makes me feel, and quietly filing all that input away into a kind of cabinet in my mind. I've done it while walking along a beach, going to a mall, being out to dinner, visiting with friends, you name it. However, since this was more of a big deal for me, I wanted to be more active in my mental note-taking. 

Mind you, aside from a few moments of discomfort, the whole thing went quite smoothly. I even managed to have a little fun with the staff by making a few jokes. Now for those who are not familiar with ablations, this a process where certain nerve endings are 'burned' so they no longer catch signals like being in constant pain in my case. I know this may sound a bit drastic, but the pain had become quite debilitating, and the source of the pain was not a serious condition that needed rectifying itself. It was simply a case of pain management but cutting off that signal to allow me to have better quality of life. (I'm probably over-simplifying things here, but this is a common procedure when the source of the pain is not something life-threatening and the pain affects quality of life). So with the term 'burning' already being bandied about in the room my brain was already at work. At one point they had to clean the area of my back where the needles were to be inserted, and I casually remarked, "Ah, applying the barbecue sauce? Extra spicey I hope?" Everyone cracked up at that. I made other jokes, throughout to reassure everyone I was doing okay.

Although, after all was said and done, I mentally kicked myself for not pulling out my Bugs Bunny voice and saying, "Ahhh... what's cookin' Doc?" (sigh) Oh well. Maybe it'll come in handy for another occasion (as I may need to have more ablations done down the road, time will tell).

And yes, my cracking jokes and the staff's reactions were another of those things that I filed in that cabinet in my mind, for possible use in a story one day. But that's what I do as an author. I'm sure others do something similar, or find other pools of inspiration to draw from, and that's okay too. The thing to remember is to be aware how you use those inspirations in the story. How do they affect the character, and how will it make the reader feel? We must always keep our audience in mind. 

I have more to share about what happened after the procedure, but I'll share those experiences and thoughts in the next entry.

Until then, take care and keep writing and recording everyone.


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