These patients generously agreed to share their experiences, because through their treatment at Water's Edge, they have gotten back some of what they had lost in their battle with chronic pain. We hope you enjoy reading their stories and find them as inspiring as we did.
Our patients say it best...
Meet Bob McGowan
One Man's Battle with Back Pain: Bob McGowan knows firsthand how severe chronic pain can disrupt one's life.
Ten years ago, Bob had severe back pain after golfing. It lasted all night, but by morning he felt better. In five years, however, the pain had become unbearably excruciating, and seriously hampered his ability to function. A discogram indicated all five disks were pain generators.
"They all leaked and there was basically nothing they could do," Bob recalls. "They could fuse them, but there was no guarantee fusing would stop the pain." Due to the multi-level nature of the pain, disk replacement wasn't an option, either. "A pain specialist in Seattle put me on a battery of medications," he continues. "That blocked 80 to 90 percent of my pain, but caused an incredible change in my personality." The Central Washington University professor tried sleeping on the floor to ease his pain. He was unable to concentrate and teach properly due to the medications.
"To be blunt, I was under the influence," he laments. "I was insolent, extremely depressed and had suicidal ideations. I was angry at the world and I told anyone who would talk to me."
When the Seattle pain clinic closed, Bob felt he was "basically out of luck." His primary care provider renewed the prescriptions, but he lost hope for a more permanent solution. "Then I saw Dr. Quave," Bob says about Brett T. Quave, MD, of Water's Edge.
"He took a complete history and said, "Bob, we're going to help find a way to help your pain and get you off this medication.' I started crying."
Dr. Quave used injections and other methods to stabilize Bob's pain. Ultimately, he implanted a spinal cord stimulator to deliver pacemaker-like electrical impulses to the spine, that produced a tingling sensation to alter and mask the perception of pain. "Bob's back pain was neuropathic and would likely respond well to spinal cord stimulation," Dr. Quave explains. "Even lightly touching his skin caused excruciating pain."
Before an implant, a patient tries a stimulator for one week. Temporary leads are inserted from an external power source and stimulation is adjusted with a remote. If doctor and patient deem the trial a success, permanent leads are inserted and a pulse generator is implanted-usually in the hip. "After the implant, I was able to reduce my medications drastically," Bob exults.
"The stimulator lets me be me-caring, compassionate, cheerful, capable and affable. I'm quick to laugh. I smile most days and sleep in bed. I can kneel in prayer and I'm writing novels and articles again. My quality of life has improved 200 percent and I look forward to the future rather than for ways to shorten it."
Meet Chanin Clayton
Managing the Pain of Scleroderma
Shortly after college, Chanin Clayton was diagnosed with systemic scleroderma. At an age when most people launch careers and start families, Chanin began an agonizing journey involving doctors' offices, hospitals, wheel chairs, tube feeding and daily medication infusions to treat serious complications and intense pain.
"I've lived a good portion of my life in hospitals," she explains. "It's very painful. It has affected my organs, my joints- everywhere there's connective tissue. It's very arthritic and debilitating and has hardened my organs, almost freezing my body. It takes a long time to get my hands and fingers moving in the morning."
Today, Chanin is an occupational therapist at Memorial's 16th Avenue Station when she feels well enough to work. She has a gastric pacemaker stimulating her esophagus, stomach and intestinal tract to eliminate tube feeding. She travels frequently to Seattle and UCLA to see gastroenterologists, endocrinologists, rheumatologists and more.
Water's Edge is also part of her support group, helping her manage daily doses of pain medication administered by Memorial's Infusion Care team along with a battery of other medicines for scleroderma.
"I wish I could say I've had miracles happen, but I have had a pretty good year being able to balance everything," she reports. "I think it's due to Water's Edge and all my physicians. Water's Edge works with Infusion Care very well."
"They didn't back down from the challenges of my disease. I'm sure it was intimidating with all I go through and the hospitals where I'm treated. When I have significant flare-ups, they work with Infusion Care and tell them to increase my medication by a certain amount. They help me manage my pain without taking more medications than I really need and they just do a super job."
-"Having Water's Edge in a smaller town has brought a lot of convenience to my life. It's one less trip I have to make over the mountain and that is huge when I'm trying to work and keep all my other appointments."