A silent night just doesn’t seem possible when suffering from chronic pain!
I have a friend, whose name is Amber (not really, but for the purposes of this writing – that’s what we’ll call her). Amber has a day full of pain – which, of course, includes her nights as well. She is not able to have a Silent Night. She has been diagnosed with failed back syndrome and a nerve entrapment in her leg. Amber has been to multiple physicians and has had multiple surgeries trying to give her her life back, so she can be a productive member of society. She has recovered from each surgery but the pain persists. She has even tried physical therapy, but cannot endure the pain of treatment. She is now relying on government assistance for income, still suffering in daily pain.
Amber starts out her day assessing what parts of her body hurt that particular morning. This particular morning, it was her back, her leg and her foot, as well as a headache and neck stiffness. She gets up out of bed slowly. She begins her daily routine and taking care of her family – trying to push the pain aside, but it invades her every thought. The headache and neck stiffness can be resolved by use of Excedrin Migraine and the stiffness just works its way out. But the back, leg and foot just create havoc. When she takes a step, it hurts. When she bends over, it hurts. When her child bumps into her leg – she jumps back from the pain.
Going through the day with pain as the primary thought before any other thought is grueling. The kids are off to school, hubby is at work, some of the daily chores are finished – now Amber just has to figure out how to make it through the rest of the day with sanity intact. Keeping her mind busy, she tries to read a book. Nope – not happening today. Can’t find a comfortable position.
Maybe focusing on dinner preparations would help distract. At first, yes – Amber does feel a little better. Feeling productive encourages her to try a little more. She tries her hand at preparing vegetables, but the act of standing in the kitchen aggravates her back and leg. Now her foot is throbbing from pain. She has to sit down. She finishes chopping the vegetables while sitting at the kitchen table.
Maybe it’s time to watch some TV now that the first part of dinner preparations are completed. Maybe that will help take her mind off the pain. It may work for a few minutes, but then commercials come on and she is focused on her pain again.
Amber realizes that she has used all of her coping skills to manage her pain and nothing is working. She is going to go ahead and pop one of the many pills she has been prescribed by her many treating physicians. So much for productivity today. She decides to use gabapentin – seems to be in the news a lot these days helping so many people. Might as well give it a try. She takes one 300 mg capsule. Within the following hour she is noticing slight improvement in pain, but now she can barely keep her eyes open. She lays on the couch wondering how she is going to possibly get her daughter to dance class later and dozes off. About an hour later, the phone rings and it’s Amber’s mom offering to take her daughter to dance class if she needs help. Wow! Amber is so grateful for her mom’s offer and takes her up on it. Maybe her mom can help out with finishing the dinner preparation as well. She finally has enough relief to lay comfortably on the couch and decides to read for a while. After reading a page, her eyelids are so heavy, she can’t fight it anymore and finally gets some rest.
After an afternoon of being a vegetable herself on the couch, the medicine wears off a little so Amber can pull together the rest of dinner. Kids are done with school and chat her ear off about their days, and the flurry of getting dinner finished so her daughter can get ready for dance class occupies a couple of hours.
Amber’s pain is still there but she functions kind of like a robot; going through the motions. Trying to put a smile on her face for her family pretending all is well, when it’s really not. By now, the pain has come back full-tilt and her family can tell she’s in so much pain. Tension increases in family interaction because mom is just not well. She is pale from fighting the pain and not having an appetite to eat better. Amber’s husband is yelling at the children to hurry up and put the dishes away, get ready for dance class and leave mom alone. The children, in turn, react with tears and anger outbursts. Finally, grandma shows up and takes the daughter to dance. Hubby and son are off to their bow and arrow class and ask if mom wants to come watch. Amber responds that she is unable to go this night but maybe next week. The thought of being bounced around in a pickup truck is not appealing to her as it would just increase her pain! She’s already at an 8/10 pain level.
The stress levels are much higher and the pain is too, so Amber decides to try another of the prescriptions she has been given recently by one of her many physicians. Tramadol. They say it’s supposed to help with nerve pain. She takes it as prescribed. One 25 mg tablet. About an hour after taking it, her pain is down to a 7/10, which is some improvement of course, but definitely still unmanageable. The skin on her back is still burning, and pacing is not helping her leg, so she decides to take a hot shower. Amber is able to get her pain down to 5/10 with the shower but now is so tired she lays on the couch until her family returns.
Amber’s family is finally wrapping up their day after hubby “helps” get the kids ready for bed. Amber’s pain meds have worn off again, so she is able to have enough presence of mind to read the children bedtime stories and get them tucked in. Hubby decides it is time for her to give him some time, but she’s in too much pain and just needs to get some rest. Hubby is understanding but impatient and gives her the cold shoulder.
Finally, Amber can now take her nightly medications and “knock out” to get some sleep. She takes a “cocktail” of sorts using 800 mg of ibuprofen, 1000 mg of Tylenol PM, Ambien, gabapentin and Tramadol. Thankfully, she does not drink alcohol to add to this mix. With this combination of medications and zombie state, she is able to get four hours of solid sleep. But then, the rest of the night is restless as the covers touching her leg wake her up. Then, the position she was sleeping in causes back pain. She gets up, goes to the bathroom, does some stretches her physical therapist taught her, takes just one more Tylenol and 2 more ibuprofen and heads back to bed.
Amber repeats this horrible process the day following with minor variations, day after day. She feels horrible. The pain is still there (okay-slightly reduced with medications) but the side effects of the medications are becoming too much. Her mind is so sluggish now. She is so very tired all the time. Coworkers are asking when she is coming back to work. Her boss inquires how she is doing and asks Amber if she can take on some work yet. Her friends from church are asking how come she hasn’t been there lately. Each day is begun with pain and ends with pain. Hope is diminishing.
But wait! A friend of Amber’s shares with her something she saw on social media about a new way to treat chronic pain – without medication or surgery!!!! Sounds too good to be true, but she accepts the information from her friend and decides to look into it.
Amber finds more and more information about this amazing technology called Calmare. She sees video testimonials and clinical trials of people who have had success using this incredible machine. Amber also sees that this machine is sometimes known as Scrambler too and looks into that information as well. Amber now has a glimmer of hope. If it is working for so many people across the nation and military facilities are using it for their veterans, could it possibly work for her too?
She searches for Calmare in Michigan and discovers MiCalmare is right in Grand Rapids, which is near where she lives. She calls and sets up an appointment after finding out more about it. The cost is $200 out of pocket. At this point, this is acceptable because she has already spent so much money on co-pays with multiple physicians and followup appointments, and 15% of each MRI or diagnostic study she has had to have done to figure out why she is still having pain. Add to that the costs of prescriptions she has had to fill and refill. Amber decides that $200 a treatment would be worth it. Also, she won’t need a medical card for illicit drugs either so she won’t have to worry about that.
Amber comes into MiCalmare for an appointment. She meets Dr. Richard Ilka and goes over her medical history with him. No, she does not have a spinal cord stimulator. No she does not have a pacemaker or other electrical device in her body. Amber is a good candidate for this treatment.
Amber is brought to a room with Calmare and has the device attached to her skin through the use of electrodes in nonpainful areas on her back and leg. The dials on Calmare are very slowly turned up, and the pain level of 8/10 is reduced to 4/10 in the first five minutes of treatment. With an adjustment or two of the dials and electrode placement, the pain is now zeroed out!
Amber enjoys the remainder of the hour without pain and actually falls asleep during her treatment. She makes an appointment for the following day and decides the recommended 10 treatments would work for her. Maybe she won’t need all ten though.
The following day, Amber’s pain has only come back to a level of 6/10 pain. She goes through the set up of the electrodes again and is able to experience a complete reduction of pain while hooked up. The day after that Amber’s pain is at 4/10 but was gone for a longer period of time the day before.
After the 5th treatment, her pain levels have steadily gone down each day and Amber has been able to have a couple of fairly decent nights of sleep. She decides to schedule appointments for the following week as well as she has had such awesome improvement in her pain levels and has been able to taper the doses of the medications she has been taking.
The sixth appointment following the weekend, her pain is back up to 4/10. She finds complete relief and is again zeroed out in pain. She goes home, makes dinner for her family and has a great night of sleep – first night she has slept through the whole night in a very long time.
By the time Amber reaches her eighth appointment, she has been able to go completely off all of her narcotics and opioids. She has more energy and she is able to move around without pain so she has decided to slowly integrate some exercise back into her daily routine. Amber asks the doctor if she can take the machine home so she can have relief while exercising. Well, unfortunately, no – she cannot take that one home with her, but Dr. Ilka tells her about another incredible medical technology called ENSO. ENSO is a wearable device that works on her cell phone and the cost is within reason so she can purchase one. Amber is educated on the use of ENSO and has access to the Coach if she has any technical difficulties so she goes ahead and purchases one with replaceable pads.
Amber no longer needs to come in for Calmare treatments at MiCalmare and has found the use of ENSO to be very helpful in managing any further pain she experiences in her back and leg and is finally able to enjoy Silent Nights!
P.S. Amber is now back to work and is able to enjoy family and social gatherings as well! This is no fairy tale. MiCalmare makes pain relief a reality!