Margie Furco knows well how pain can put a life on hold.
For a dozen years she worked as a baker and cake decorator for a grocery store chain, spending hours on her feet, lifting heavy baking equipment and bags of flour. It was a job she loved, and her customers loved her, too. Her wedding cakes were in demand with area brides, and “children called me the Cookie Lady, because I’d give them a little cookie with special icing.”
But all those years on her feet were taking their toll. There would be days when she rated her lower back pain—on a scale of from one to 10—”as a 10-plus. On good days, I would be lucky if it would be at seven, and that’s with morphine and handfuls of pills.” Eventually, she had to go on workers compensation. Then, unable to bend, wear shoes, walk or stand for long periods of time, let alone lift her beloved grandchildren, Margie was at her wit’s end. “I had done everything—medicines, physical therapy, surgeries; I saw several different doctors and I’d get a temporary fix, but the pain would always come back again.”
When she met with Dr. Amster at the NorthBay Pain Management Center, he thought she might be a good candidate for a new minimally invasive surgical procedure using a Spinal Cord Simulator. “The spinal cord is like a telephone wire,” Dr. Amster explains, “and signals are sent up and down the cord.” Wires with electrodes are placed on top of the spinal cord and the electrode’s gentle electrical impulses send competing signals to the brain. That effectively cancels out the pain sensations being sent to the brain.
It has been a miracle treatment for Margie, who says she now has her life back. “I can do whatever I want. I’ve lost weight because I can move around. I can take walks with my husband, and work in the garden, which I love.” She also spends every day at the Suisun Wildlife Center, where she teaches volunteers how to care for orphaned or injured animals. “We get all kinds of birds, and animals—raccoons, coyotes, foxes, squirrels—here. We nurse them back to health and then they fly off, hopefully to a good life,” she says. “I definitely wouldn’t be doing any of this if it weren’t for the surgery.”