The 27-year-old woman from Battle Ground has two rods and four screws in her back due to several injuries while working as a CNA.
Her back injuries (specifically her L5 and S1 discs) have caused sciatic pain and occasional numbness in her legs.
And up until this year, the only relief Ruthie found was in pain medications and muscle relaxers. However, after completing an 8-week pain management program, taught by Battle Ground HealthCare, called Taking Back My Life (TBML), Ruthie has discovered alternative ways to deal with her back pain that don’t require medication.
Ruthie says that before completing the TBML program, back pain ruled her life. She recalls what her semi regular car trips down to California used to be like as an example.
What a 12-hour Drive Was Like before
“Usually halfway through the 12-hour drive I would end up with bad muscle spasms. I would try so hard to get comfortable but nothing would work, so I’d turn to medication.” Ruthie says she would start with some muscle relaxers, then take Ibuprofen followed by Tylenol.
“By the end of the trip I would end up with numb toes and feel all groggy and medicated. It was like someone beat me up and all I wanted to do was go to sleep when we got there. It was not fun.”
However, Ruthie recently took that same 12-hour drive down to California, after completing the TBML program, and noticed a dramatic difference.
“One of the things they teach you is how to pace yourself. And it applies to just about every area of life. So when it came time to take my next drive down to California I approached it differently,” she says.
What a 12-Hour Drive Is Like Now
Ruthie said she made the following changes during her most recent drive:
- “I made sure we gave ourselves enough time to take frequent stops so I wasn’t in the same position for too long. We would take short breaks often where I could get up and walk around.”
- “I also made sure to plan an actual lunch break instead of just getting fast food like we normally would do. This allowed us to eat a healthy meal and have a longer break.”
- “Another thing I did was I used my new TENS unit, a small device that uses low voltage electric current to relieve pain.”
When asked how she felt when she arrived at her destination this time Ruthie replied, “Once we got down there, I was able to go out to dinner and actually do things! Whereas normally, I’d be like, ‘Okay, we’re here. I’m lying down. I’m in so much pain. I don’t want to do anything.’”
“Another cool thing is I didn’t end up ever needing to take any medication… no muscle relaxers, no Ibuprofen, no Tylenol, nothing!”
The “Take Back My Life” Program
The Take Back My Life program Ruthie is referring to is an 8-week pain management treatment program hosted by Battle Ground HealthCare.
Ruth Gohl, RN, executive director at Battle Ground HealthCare says the purpose of TBML is to “provide self-management strategies to increase well-being, functional activity levels and general quality of life for people who struggle with chronic pain.”
The program involves:
- 8 weekly, 2-hour sessions at the clinic.
- Sessions are coordinated by a team of dieticians, massage therapists, mental health professionals, nurses, occupational therapists and physical therapists.
- Participants are provided supplies to assist in improving activity tolerance and in managing pain as well as books regarding nutrition and coping skills (value at $200).
- There are activities for participants to do on their own after the sessions.
In order to qualify for the TBML program patients must meet the following requirements:
- Be diagnosed with chronic pain
- Be at, or below, 300% of the Federal Poverty Level
- Be referred to Battle Ground HealthCare
- Be assessed by a Battle Ground HealthCare physician
- Be willing and able to attend all sessions and complete the out of session activities.
Are You Ready To Take Back Your Life?
We asked Ruthie what she would tell someone who is considering the TBML program. She says:
“This program is a good fit for people who have decided they’ve had enough and are willing to make a change. However, if you’re not willing to do it then don’t, because it’ll be a waste of your time and someone else’s. You have to be ready to face whatever’s holding you back and be open to the idea that you might be holding yourself back!
Some people are adamant and will say things like, ‘No, this pain is out of my control. It controls me.’ But you have to decide to control it. When you’re ready to make that decision then you’re ready for the Take Back My Life program. Through the program you’ll learn how you’ve been doing things and how you can do things better so you can literally take back your life.
And it’s such a great change to make because once you are able to take back your life and get control of your pain it impacts your whole life and lives around you. So, I really encourage people to do this if they’re ready. But I think you have to be ready.”
For more information about the Take Back My Life program please watch this video. You can also contact Lynn Crawford, the Chronic Pain Program Coordinator at Battle Ground HealthCare at (360)-687-8941.