‘The pain was so intense.’
Pat’s back pain started just before Christmas. She was entering a restaurant to find a friend when she and another guest reached for the same door. “A lady was pushing to go out. I was pulling to come in. There’s give in the door, and backwards I fell.”
Pat’s fall left her unconscious and with a serious head wound. She started feeling pain in her back after the accident, but her doctors sent her to rehabilitation facilities without serious investigation of why it was happening. She visited one doctor, who said nothing was wrong and scheduled a follow-up appointment in two weeks. When Pat called to request a quicker appointment because she was in excruciating pain, she discovered the doctor had left to go on vacation and wouldn’t return for a month.
The clinic provided a prescription for a strong pain medication, but the medication did little to alleviate her pain. When they finally examined her closely, they discovered five broken vertebrae in Pat’s back. “One ruptured, so that meant all these tiny little pieces were floating around my spine.”
A surgeon repaired the broken vertebrae, but Pat was still experiencing significant pain both from her back surgery and from other causes. She’d had one hip replacement, had pins in her other hip, and had experienced a foot injury. “The pain was so intense,” Pat recalled. “On a scale of 0 to 10, it’s 10 constantly.” She spent three months in a nursing home and 27 weeks in rehabilitation, but the pain never improved. That’s when she connected with the Heilman Center in Michigan.
Pat’s pain had forced her to retire from her job as a credit manager. She also used to operate a tractor to perform work around her property, something the pain made impossible. Pat’s pain specialist listened carefully to her describe her symptoms, and he immediately suspected that she had spinal stenosis. The narrowing of her spinal column had resulted from her many surgeries over the years, particularly her hip surgeries.
After diagnosing Pat with spinal stenosis, her pain specialist recommended a minimally invasive surgical procedure called a laminectomy. The procedure opened up space around Pat’s spinal column and helped to alleviate some of her back pain.
Pat says the caring staff at the Heilman Center kept her spirits up, both before and after surgery. “I woke up, and I had a glass of orange juice waiting for me, and some crackers. The girls were so nice.”
Since her laminectomy, Pat no longer experiences the same degree of pain. “Going from 0 to 10, and then going back to 0 — it’s just wonderful.”
‘I’m gonna feel like a new woman.’
After having surgery, Pat is back to her favorite activities, including driving her five tractors. The first time she got back into the tractor to mow her grass, it started to rain, but she didn’t care. “My husband’s got a cane, and he’s banging on the windows. He says, ‘It’s raining.’ I say, ‘I know, but isn’t it nice? I’m cutting the whole front lawn.’”
In addition to managing her spinal stenosis treatment, Pat has supported her husband through complications from knee surgery. She has also continued treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Pat knows that if she ever experiences severe pain again, she can count on the Heilman Center for help. “I will be going to see Doctor B,” she said. “He’s fantastic. He is the greatest doctor.”
Talk to a Pain Specialist
If you’re struggling with pain from spinal stenosis, a pain specialist from the Heilman Center can help you. We schedule appointments as quickly as possible, and we work with you and your existing doctors to provide spinal stenosis treatment.