LEARNING TO LIVE WITHOUT PAIN:  The Personal Story of Farrok Yazdi

If Julius Caesar is correct in stating, “it is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience”, then Farrok Yazdi is one of those rare men with patience. The part-time Napa resident has lived with unbearable constant pain for more than 20 years, and has done so rather graciously as anyone who knows him would attest.

For people like Farrok who spend much of their lifetimes functioning in a state of daily physical suffering, the concept of living without is unfathomable. It becomes an integral part of your daily activity, dictating what you will or will not do, informing where you will go, who you will see, or denying you those opportunities.

Remarkably, Farrok has maintained a robust social life, expending great energy in building a Persian Studies program at the University of Southern California, traveling with his wife Mahvash, and so much more, despite the discomfort.

From birth, he suffered from a spinal condition that would ultimately result in a massive surgery 12 years ago to free the critical L-5 nerve root in his lumbrosacral joint, the intricate L5 – S1 vertebral segment of the lower back. When the structures in this area of the spine are damaged or diseased, mobility can be severely limited and the conditions create massive amounts of lower back and leg pain. The surgical procedure was successful at first, but within one year Farrok felt as though he would never live another pain-free day.

In July 2016, Farrok was introduced to Dr. Marko Bodor with the understanding that he might have a solution, one that could address the pain and mobility issues without surgery.

Using high-precision ultrasound, Dr. Bodor pinpointed the source of the pain and injected Farrok with Kenalog, a corticosteroid designed to treat inflammation of the joint and decrease pressure on the nerve, providing much-needed pain relief. After the injection, he was pain-free. In Farrok’s own words, “It was like a miracle. I got up from bed and had no pain.”.

While effective in providing temporary relief, this course of treatment couldn’t address a lifetime of damage beginning with a defect so Dr. Bodor also performed a round of radiofrequency nerve ablation, a minimally invasive procedure that prevents the transmission of pain signals so the patient cannot register the level of discomfort. Together, these non-surgical procedures are making significant changes in Farrok’s life, and giving him a second chance to learn how to live without pain.

According to Farrok, “getting used to not having pain is a process. You have to re-learn how to live.” The dramatic improvement in the quality of life is unexpected. People who have the rare opportunity to become pain-free, or live with greatly diminished pain, must navigate parameters and physical boundaries previously unknown. Emotionally, a life without chronic pain also opens a new frontiers – of being in a state where you are less irritable, less anxious, not always waiting for the pain to strike. Farrok shares, “I am less anxious and less irritable; I am not always waiting for that moment when the pain strikes. I am calmer and my life is much more enjoyable”.

The Napa Medical Research Foundation is here to help ensure that more people like Farrok, from across the Napa Valley and around the world, are able to learn how to live a life without pain. We recognize the immense strain and difficulty Farrok and his family have faced these many years, and are grateful for the continued advancement of less invasive, less costly procedures that can bring pain relief and a greatly improved quality of life. Through our support of Dr. Bodor’s research, new treatments are being developed that can help keep people off the surgical table and we are eager to share these developments with the rest of the medical community.