“On the move.” This would be a great phrase to describe the life of Carolyn Wilson. Not only has she lived in numerous places across the U.S. throughout her adult life, but her daily regiment is also full of activity and motion. This made it all the more tragic when a series of accidents left her in debilitating pain. But it was also that much more miraculous when she found a solution that got her back on her feet!
Moving Right Along
Carolyn is originally from Missouri. It’s where she was born and raised, went to college, and even met her husband. But it was after her marriage that she really hit the road. Her husband was a banker, and his job took them all over the country. In the early days of their marriage, the Wilsons lived in Missouri, Washington DC, and California before finally settling in Minnesota, where they have now been for over 20 years.
But no matter where they hung their hats, the Wilsons were not the type to just idly sit around. They have always had access to a cabin during their travels, and they are avid watersport and outdoor activity enthusiasts. Carolyn also enjoyed gardening, making jewelry, and playing with her grandkids (and any parent or grandparent can tell you that playing with kiddos is a workout all by itself). Carolyn even did a stint at Baskin Robbins when she was young, making cakes for the display case. Since then, she has developed a fondness for cake decorating.
So, it is very safe to say that Carolyn prefers an active lifestyle.
The Pain Begins
Between 15 and 20 years ago, things changed drastically for Carolyn. A series of unfortunate car accidents left her with 18 broken bones, a shattered femur, a collapsed vertebra, and a very painful case of spinal stenosis.
After learning to walk again, Carolyn’s pain forced her to quit her job and go on disability. It also became difficult, if not impossible, to do all the things she loved to do. She could see her grandkids but certainly couldn’t play with them anymore. She was also unable to stand long enough to bake and decorate cakes. And watersports were out of the picture.
Suddenly, Carolyn found her world turned completely upside down. Whereas active movement used to be a source of joy, now it was a painful burden.
The Road to Recovery
Carolyn came to Twin Cities Pain Clinic in May of 2009 after some enthusiastic referrals from a few local friends. Over the next decade, Carolyn successfully underwent a series of treatments that helped keep the pain at bay for long stretches, including physical therapy and radiofrequency ablations.
The opportunity for a permanent fix presented itself in August of 2020, when Carolyn attended a webinar hosted by Twin Cities Pain Clinic Medical Director, Dr. Andrew Will. During the webinar, Dr. Will reviewed an advanced pain treatment called Vertiflex®, which is designed to relieve pain caused by spinal stenosis. A small spacer device is implanted between the troublesome vertebrae, reducing compression on the spinal nerves and relieving pain. Carolyn liked the sound of that and immediately contacted Twin Cites Pain Clinic to learn more about it.
After a consult with her provider, it was determined that Carolyn was indeed a good candidate for the Vertiflex® procedure. She read up on the procedure and even consulted with her daughters, one of whom happens to be a nurse and the other a doctor. They did some research on the procedure and agreed it was the right move.
After a successful implant procedure, things started to turn around quickly for Carolyn. While still in the recovery area, she got up to use the restroom. Not only was there no pain, but she felt like she was standing up straighter. Her provider prescribed a small dose of medication in case Carolyn had any post-procedure pain. She never used that prescription. After just a couple more days of rest and ice packs, Carolyn was ready to get moving again!
Life Since the Procedure
Simply put, Carolyn has her life back.
Before the Vertiflex® procedure, she could only spend about 15 minutes in the kitchen before her spinal stenosis got so painful, she had to sit and rest with tears in her eyes. Only four days after the procedure, Carolyn was messing around in the kitchen when she looked up and realized she had been standing in there for over an hour!
When she came back to the clinic for a post-procedure checkup, she didn’t need to bring her cane.
And then one day, she went to the craft store to get materials to decorate a cake for her granddaughter. There was a long line at checkout. Normally, Carolyn would not have even attempted to wait in such a lengthy queue. But this time, she stood in line, made her purchase, drove home, and made dinner, all without taking a break.
After so many years of painful idleness, Carolyn was back on the move.
Also, her granddaughter loved the cake.