La Crosse, WI (WXOW) — In this month’s edition of "Everyone Has a Story" we learn how a 19 year old woman from Reedsburg kicked her reliance on pain medication after a year and a half. Hannah Erdman said she had enough of feeling bad. Pain medication prescribed by her doctor only made her feel better for a few days but then the pain was back.
After a year and a half, Hannah took matters into her own hands to find a way to live drug free.
Hannah Erdman says she was a shell of her former self.
"I didn’t like it when someone said oh you look awful cause I knew I did," said Hannah.
In 2014 Hannah slipped on the ice and broke her back.
"Right when I fell I couldn’t even get up. There were two boys who actually helped me up and into the school because I couldn’t walk on my own," said Hannah.
To relieve the pain Hannah was prescribed pain medications but after a few days the pain was back so she tried something else, a cycle that continued for a year and a half.
"I probably should have talked about it to more people but I was just in so much pain I didn’t really didn’t think that anyone would understand," said Hannah.
Hannah averaged about three hours of sleep a night which made staying awake in school a challenge.
Her mother says walking the halls was even worse.
"One day she was at school and someone just bumped her a little bit and it sent her to an er just walking to a busy crowded hall. There were a lot of things she was afraid to do because she knew any jolt or activity not normal to her would just really hurt," said Brenda Erdman.
Hannah retreated to her room looking back her mom says she can see why.
"She was sitting at the table and somebody got up to get something and it was just walking but the vibration of the floor just caused so much pain," said Brenda.
At the advice of an area doctor and fresh out of options, Hannah and her mother headed to UW Health Pain Management Clinic to see Dr. Alaa Abd-Elsayed who suggested a spinal cord stimulator to manage and hopefully eliminate pain.
"We use electricity as the source of stimulation to the brain so the pain will not find its way to the brain and how we do it is
we place two electrodes behind the spinal cord and then those electrodes will be connected to a battery that will deliver electricity. They stimulate the nerve paths to the brain and simply the brain will forget about the pain," said Dr. Al.
Hannah felt relief right away.
Dr, Al says she’s one of the lucky ones because Hannah could have been a statistic.
"As we all know, looking at the CDC statistics, opiods is probably one of the biggest killers in our nation. People abuse them, people can get tolerant…and sometimes not intentional. The body gets use to the opiods. They have a lot of side effects starting with making the patient constipated, drowsy, not thinking right and can cause organ failure. Introducing those technologies and other pain modalities can help significantly reduce the problem of opiods, not only for the patients but for the community," said Dr. Al.
Hannah’s family says after seeing what opiods did to their daughter they have a new found compassion for those struggling to kick the habit.
"We have a new understanding for people who do get addicted because when you are in that amount of pain and it’s chronic,
you feel so helpless," said Brenda.
Hannah used to feel helpless but that feeling is replaced with a sense of hope. Her pain is now possibility.
"Hannah’s Mom told me, I feel we have our daughter back. So that’s how it can be effective when we have pain under control," said Dr. Al.
"This definitely helped me. Without it, I would hate to think where I would be. It really changed my life for the better," said Hannah.
Doctors say Hannah has lost one third of her height from crushed vertebrae but she has
gained her life back and living almost completely drug free.
For more information on the Chronic Pain Management Clinic go to www.uwhealth.org.