It started with what the doctors thought was carpal tunnel syndrome. As the year went on and the pain began to travel up my arm, I was then diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. Each diagnosis came with a new plan of action. I tried occupational therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic care, steroid injections and massage. Unfortunately, none of those things seemed to alleviate the chronic pain that kept traveling up my shoulder, into my neck and even my back.
I saw many different types of doctors, from a rheumatologist to neurosurgeons. After no true diagnosis, and still in pain, I tried cryotherapy, nerve medications, and acupuncture. The relief was minimal, but it got me through the next two years.
I then found Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Associates on my own after searching the internet for a doctor who could diagnose my chronic pain with accuracy. By this time the pain had overtaken my whole body. It was like I was an 80-year-old woman in a 40-year-old’s body. It was awful! When Dr. Randall Wright’s name appeared, I finally felt like I was headed in the right direction. Dr. Wright listened to every word I shared and read every piece of paperwork I brought with me. He truly seemed to care. I was not rushed out of the office or discarded like I had been in the past. Dr. Wright diagnosed me with fibromyalgia and although I hated the thought of this diagnosis, I was relieved to finally have an answer to all of this pain. Dr. Wright put me on a plan of diet, exercise, sleep, and nerve medications. I was very hopeful and ready to feel relief.
After about a year and a half the pain lessened, but my right arm where the pain originated seemed to stay the same. As a teacher I use my hands and arms all day long. Between writing on the board, typing on the computer, or even holding a book to read to my class, the arm pain became unbearable. The nerve medications and other remedies were just not enough for the arm pain.
At this point I was transferred to Mischer Neuroscience Center neurosurgeon Dr. Brian Fernholz for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and answers for the continued arm pain. Just like Dr. Wright, Dr. Fernholz listened to every word. He was thoughtful, caring, and understanding of how the pain was affecting me as a mom and a teacher. Although a small compression was found in my neck, it was not the answer to the pain or why I was having it. Then Dr. Fernholz shared a solution. He put me on a path that would change my life.
In November 2017, Dr. Fernholz sent me to Dr. Divya Chirumamilla, a pain management specialist at the Mischer Neuroscience Center at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center, to begin the process of having a spine stimulator placed in my neck. The process was overwhelming, but I have to say very thorough! I again was hopeful! The results were encouraging, so Dr. Chirumamilla and Dr. Fernholz recommended the permanent placement of the spine stimulator.
Working together, Dr. Fernholz and his colleague Dr. Albert Fenoy, a UTHealth neurosurgeon with Mischer Neuroscience Institute, implanted my spine stimulator on December 18, 2017. I was excited to start the new year off with a tool to make me feel young again! The recovery is slower than I hoped, but I’m not one who likes to be told to slow down!
I am loving the results I have gotten so far. To be able to use a remote to change the level of stimuli that I need to help with the pain is amazing!!
All in all, I took a chance with a new doctor and I now know that God had his hand in all of this by putting me on the path to Dr. Wright, Dr. Fernholz, Dr. Chirumamilla and Dr. Fenoy. I want to thank them for caring, listening, and supporting me through all of this!
According to The American Academy of Pain Medicine, 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, which is pain that lasts for three to six months or more. Chronic pain not only affects the person’s physical and emotional being, it also greatly impacts healthcare costs, worker productivity, personal relationships and more.
For more information on treatment for chronic pain, visit http://neuro.memorialhermann.org/.