Any other Tuesday
Professionals at Geisinger’s Pain Management Clinic saved Lisa from years of pain, freeing her to plan for an amazing future.
One cold winter afternoon in 2005, a family car trip put Lisa, of Muncy, PA, between a drunk driver and a tractor-trailer. Cars and trucks collided and, though others walked away with minor injuries, Lisa remained pinned in her car. She had serious internal injuries, including a ruptured disk in her back.
“In the blink of my eye my life changed dramatically,” she says. “I’d taken the rare afternoon off to spend with my mother and two aunts. Any other Tuesday, I would have been at work.”
For months, she dealt with her other injuries; but she could find no relief from chronic back pain. She tried physical therapy, heated pools, nerve blocks and pain medications. Finally, she had surgery that provided a welcomed reduction in pain.
Pain Medicine: Lisa's Story
STIM pain patient Lisa P. of Muncy found relief following a motor vehicle accident at Geisinger's Pain Management Clinic.
A temporary success
“Then I fell,” Lisa says. “The pain came back immediately, and it would not go away.”
Lisa had to rely once more on nerve blocks and pain medications to get her through each day. Even then, she remained in pain, and the medicines themselves were debilitating.
“I was living in a medicine fog,” she describes. “All I wanted to do was sleep. It was no way to live, and being on disability for the rest of my life wasn’t an option I was ready to consider.”
Help is far away
Using the internet, Lisa found one hospital several hours away that offered a promising solution, an implanted spinal cord stimulator. When other treatments have failed to provide pain relief, this device is one of the last options patients like Lisa have.
But ironically, her chronic back pain actually made this option impossible for her to attain: the hospital was too far. After meeting with that team once, she and her mother, Yvonne, realized that the travel would be unmanageable.
“There were a lot of tears shed that day,” Lisa recalls. “We’d found a solution, and we lost it again.”
A better option
Fortunately, staff at that hospital came forward with another option.
“They had looked up my hometown and told me that they knew of an excellent, reputable Pain Management Clinic near me,” Lisa says. “It was at Geisinger. They said it was the best place to go.”
Instead of a three hour, one-way drive to the other center, Geisinger’s Pain Management Clinic is only half an hour from Lisa’s home. Geisinger’s pain management specialists met with her, and she was thrilled to learn that the spinal cord stimulator could help her.
The stimulator is a permanent implant of electrodes attached to the spine. When activated, they deliver small electric shocks that disrupt pain signals going to the brain. This provides relief that can greatly improve a patient’s quality of life.
Practically pain free
To ensure that the spinal cord stimulator would relieve significant pain, the Geisinger team first implanted a temporary device, during a one-day visit.
“I had immediate relief,” she says, recalling the experience. “The absence of pain was incredible. It is hard to describe.”
Many patients with this device enjoy up to a 50 percent reduction in pain. Lisa, however, has 90 percent relief. Today, she is again enjoying her flower and vegetable gardens, and she works out at the gym twice a week to improve her strength. She also volunteers with the youth at her church and with Geisinger’s Pain Management Advisory Board.
“Instead of 12 pain pills a day, I take only one at night now,” she says. “This has been life-changing.”
Another blessing on the way
Instead of living in a “medicine fog” as she did before Geisinger’s team implanted the spinal cord stimulator, Lisa is now actively preparing for an exciting future.
“I’m adopting a child,” she says with a big smile. “I couldn’t consider being a parent before, but now I’m awaiting the call, the one that tells be about my new son or daughter.”
Practically free of pain, Lisa is grateful to be able to focus on her future and on her family and friends. She expresses gratitude and devotion to those at Geisinger who have helped her reach this point.
“I’ve been blessed by the specialists there,” she says. “They’ve been an answer to my prayers.