December 2018 Patient Spotlight
Maria was one of our first Patient Spotlights! Maria has suffered from lower back pain since she was 22 from a work related accident that ruptured three discs in her lower back. Then in 1998, she was in a car accident that injured her back again. Eventually, Maria came to Boston PainCare and began a regiment of facet injections, medication management, meditation, and water aerobics. Maria still had pain, but it was manageable and she was functional. She went to the gym 5 days a week where she worked on the elliptical and did resistance training. She took a lot of pride in how active she was, and we were excited by her progress and named Maria our Patient Spotlight in February 2013.
Then, like many patients, Maria had a setback. Sometimes the pain journey resembles the bunny hop: two steps forward, one step back. In 2014, Maria had a step back when her sciatica started acting up. She had been working for two years with her granddaughter for her Quinceañera, where 15 year old girls are honored and welcomed into their community as young women with a special ceremony and an evening of celebration and dancing. As that day approached, Maria’s pain increased until she was unable to walk. She spent most days in bed and could only move around by wheelchair. Maria was able to attend the Quinceañera, but she had to watch from the sidelines. She couldn’t dance or participate in the ceremony and another relative had to fill in at the last minute.
Maria was devastated that she couldn’t fully participate in the Quinceañera, but Maria is a fighter. She might have chronic pain, but she was determined to “enjoy life to the fullest” and work through the pain. Soon after the Quinceañera, Maria was able to schedule surgery to repair her sciatica. The surgery went well, but because of her previous accidents, Maria will always have pain. After the surgery, Maria went to rehab and tried to work her way back to the activity level she enjoyed before she was wheelchair bound. But by 2017, she wasn’t able to walk in the mornings when her meds had worn off, and her pain started getting worse. Maria couldn’t be as active as she liked. That’s when Dr. Bazoberry suggested she consider a Spinal Cord Stimulator implant. Maria did the trial and found a 60% reduction in her pain level! She then had the surgery to receive the permanent implant. Once she healed, Maria worked hard to get back into an exercise routine. She says, “It can take a long time to change, but you need to do the work and modify your routine as need be.”
Because of her history of back injuries, Maria still needs to be on some mediation and receives periodic injections even with the Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS), but Maria is once again, one of our success stories!
As Maria says, “Life changed. I had to modify what I do but I still do it. My back is really bad and there is nothing anyone can do to fix it. But the SCS has given me my life back physically and mentally. I still have pain, but I have tools that help me with that. I take care of myself. I eat right. I meditate, and I exercise with some restrictions. If I don’t stay active, my pain gets worse. Sitting down too much is very irritating to my lower back. When I exercise with pain, it can be painful that night, but I feel much better the next day. You feel better if you stay active.”
Maria says, “Take breaks when you need to, but keep going. If you stay active physically and mentally, it will calm your pain down and make life better.”