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Rejoining The World

March 14, 2018 11:08 a.m.

  • Carol Lowry

Carol Lowry is enjoying life again after relief from severe pain.

Carol Lowry never imagined that pain could take over her life the way it did after suffering a fall in July.

She is grateful to the Center for Interventional Pain at Sarah Bush Lincoln for relieving that pain, so she could once again enjoy life. “That Pain Clinic is the best kept secret there is,” she said. “They gave me my life back.”

Carol was on a weekend getaway with friends when she fell backwards on her behind and hit her head on concrete stairs. “I was a mess and my head was all bloody, but I don’t remember being in a lot of pain at the time,” she said.

Carol was treated in the SBL Emergency Department following the incident, but she didn’t experience severe pain in her lower back and pelvis until a couple of weeks later. At that time, she visited both her primary care provider and her chiropractor for relief. An MRI revealed fractures on both sides of her sacrum, a large wedge-shaped vertebra at the base of the spinal column.

“Everyone told me it would take a long time to heal, but I don’t know how a person could live like that,” she said. “I was in excruciating pain – mind altering pain. I couldn’t sit, stand or lay comfortably. I couldn’t do anything. I don’t know how I survived those days. I truly don’t.”

Carol’s beloved friend and partner, Jerry VanBellehem, jumped into action on Carol’s behalf. He stopped in the Center for Interventional Pain at Sarah Bush Lincoln and asked if Carol could get an appointment. Nurse practitioner Heather Heicher, APN, overheard Jerry’s request and asked him more about Carol’s diagnosis. She then explained that there was a procedure that would relieve Carol of her pain. With Carol’s approval, Heicher immediately reached out to Carol’s primary care provider for a referral and then – along with Pain Specialist Ragai Mitry, MD – met with Carol later that day. “That was the first glimmer of hope I had of feeling like a human being again,” Carol said.

“Dr. Mitry was so nice to me and so compassionate, and his office staff treated me like I was their only patient. Everyone was so kind, and they truly wanted to help me,” Carol said.

Two days later, Dr. Mitry performed a minimally invasive, image-guided procedure called sacral vertebroplasty to treat the pain. During the procedure, Dr. Mitry injected special bone cement into the fractures with the goal of stabilizing the fractures.

“I felt immediate relief. It was wonderful,” Carol said, thrilled with the results. Dr. Mitry performed an epidural two weeks later to take care of some unrelated back pain.

Dr. Mitry wants to make more people aware that this procedure is available, as traditional therapy for sacral fractures involves rest, pain medication and either crutches or a walker to support walking. Traditional treatment normally takes about three to six months to heal, but many fractures do not respond to it, he said.

“Thankfully, we were able to help Carol by giving her an option to bring back her quality of life,” Dr. Mitry said.

“It was so wonderful to find someone who cared. I feel so much better now,” she said. Ready to rejoin the world, Carol was happy to make it to her 55th high school class reunion in Stewardson-Strasburg in August. “I’ve been telling everyone I can about the Pain Clinic,” Carol said. “They were a Godsend to me.”

To make an appointment at the Center for Interventional Pain with Heather Heicher, APN, or Ragai Mitry, MD, please ask your primary care provider for a referral.



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