For Dan Ivey, life is once again in full bloom.
“I love this job. I want to be able to do it until I’m 75 years old,” he said of his job as church caretaker in Old Lyme.
But that goal proved nearly impossible after Dan could no longer work because of chronic back pain due to an old injury.
“(The pain) just got progressively worse, to the point where it was really hard for me to get around,” Dan said.
His troubles began in 1994, when he fell down an elevator shaft while working in construction. He ended up having two spinal fusions, but over the years, the residual pain from the scar tissue left him immobile.
“After the initial conservative treatments, we saw some partial improvement of his pain, but then he sort of plateaued,” said Dr. Kost.
But there was hope for Dan: a medication-free alternative known as spinal cord stimulation. This allows the patient to activate a small pulse generator, sending electrical pulses to the spinal cord. These pulses interfere with the nerve impulses that make the patient feel pain.
“When you think of pain as sort of an electrical impulse, it’s disrupting that impulse as it travels up the spinal cord up to the brain,” said Dr. Kost.
But first, Dan had to try it out for seven days to see if it would work for him by reducing pain by at least 50 percent. Thankfully for Dan, the results were immediate.
“I walked out of there with it on and it was amazing,” he said.
That made Dan the ideal candidate for a permanent implant — a minor surgical procedure where the device is placed underneath the skin in the lower back so that now, with the touch of a button, Dan finally has control over his pain.
“It gave me my life back. I don’t know what I’d do without it.”