January 2019 Patient Spotlight
“5 years ago, I had given up,” shared Karen.
She had been rear-ended in a car accident on Rte 2. The car accident was very minor. No air bags deployed, but she was left with chronic back pain. Months, later, her back pain was still excruciating. Finally, during an MRI, her doctors found a cyst pressing on her spinal cord. It was a pre-existing condition not caused by the accident, but accident triggered her symptoms, and now the cyst was causing her great pain. Karen went to many specialists and neurologists locally and in Boston. They all said there was nothing else they could do for her.
Then she got a new PCP who referred her to Boston PainCare. Karen’s response was: “You’re new here. You don’t know. I’m really done. I’m not going anywhere.” But soon after, Karen’s pain was so bad, she decided to give Boston PainCare a try. Karen is so glad she made the call!
Prior to her accident, Karen was a self-proclaimed “gym rat”. She went to the gym three times per week. She lifted weights. She was incredibly active, and she was the Quality Assurance Manager for a healthcare software company that employed people on 3 continents. But because of her daily chronic pain, Karen had to leave her job.
When Karen first came to Boston PainCare, she met with Dr. Silk. He said: “We will never tell you there is nothing else we can do for you.” When Karen heard that, she was all in and very open-minded about her treatment plan. She was willing to try anything to relieve her pain. Karen has worked with Kate in Med Management. She’s tried multiple treatments including Graston, Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA), facet injections, trigger point injections, meditation, and inversion tables. Some things worked better than others. “I have such an unusual condition and typical treatments don’t work. A lot of modalities I tried only worked for a short time. So I need to keep trying new things… I refuse to wallow in self-pity.”
Karen says, “I have to accept what is. There are things that are simply true:
I have chronic pain.
I don’t have to like it, I don’t have to embrace it, but I do have to accept it.”
Karen’s curiosity keeps her motivated and engaged with her doctors at Boston PainCare, and it is her curiosity that keeps her motivated and engaged with her home life. When she realized she couldn’t be active in the same way prior to her accident, Karen looked for other ways to stay active. She has taken a number of classes from quilting to felting to jewelry making and glasswork. Through this process, Karen discovered that she loves quilting! She can only quilt for about an hour per day, but she does finish her quilts. Today, Karen still likes to keep active and walks 3 miles everyday rain or shine. Karen uses acceptance and mindfulness in conjunction with medications to keep pain at a tolerable level – but not so medicated that she can’t function.
Karen says, “I can’t do everything, but I never let my pain win. I identify my limitations, and work within these limits. I learn to live the life I want to live.”