Leanna’s story of a life returned

Waukesha’s Leanna Wienzierl, age 52, had been struggling with pain that traveled from the bottom of her spine, across her hips, down both legs and all the way to her toes. Wienzierl says that at times the pain caused her to be so depressed that she didn’t want to talk with her husband or even eat.

After 2 1/2 years of constant pain, Wienzierl had not found the answers or relief she so desperately sought. That’s when Dr. Stanya Smith, a neurologist on staff at ProHealth Care, entered Wienzierl’s life. Dr. Smith ordered an MRI to determine the cause of Wienzierl’s extreme pain.

“Dr. Smith called me with the results of the MRI and said she wanted to see me right away,” said Wienzierl. Dr. Smith explained that Wienzierl’s condition was rare. Her spinal cord nerves were twisted and knotted. Surgery wasn’t an option because of the risk involved, so Dr. Smith referred Wienzierl to ProHealth Care’s Pain Management Services. “I just love Dr. Smith,” said Wienzierl. “She’s fantastic as a person, and I am so thankful to her for giving me a diagnosis and referring me to Dr. Noto.”

Louis Noto, MD, a pain management specialist at ProHealth Care, determined that Wienzierl was a potential candidate for a spinal cord stimulator implant and recommended a trial period. “I was so scared,” admitted Wienzierl, “but Dr. Noto put me at ease. The result of the trial implant was fantastic.”

Dr. Noto proceeded with the permanent implant. For Wienzierl, there was no looking back.

“It is the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said. “I don’t have to take pain medications and my mind is clear. Now, I can walk, lift and squat. And most importantly, I can be a wife again, a mom to my three grown daughters and grandmother to my six grandchildren. I am so happy now.”



Years of welding took its toll on Michael Townsend

Michael Townsend, 47, of Helenville, worked as a welder and fabricator for 20 years until intense pain in his spine made working too difficult.

“I tried pain killers for a year, and then muscle relaxers and physical therapy,” said Townsend. This regimen helped at first, but the effectiveness soon wore off.

Townsend was admitted to ProHealth Care’s Waukesha Memorial Hospital for three days due to complications from type 2 diabetes. His kidneys had shut down, he stopped taking medications and was in intense pain. Dr. Noto, a ProHealth Care pain management specialist, assessed Townsend’s situation and suggested spinal cord stimulation. The device was permanently implanted in April 2013, and has been effectively blocking Townsend’s pain since.

“Sleeping is a lot better, too,” Townsend admitted. “I keep it on at night, but I shut it off if I’m feeling well.”



Car accident’s lasting impact

Waukesha’s Michael Dowske, 60, suffered from chronic pain as the result of a serious automobile accident.

To take the edge off of persistent pain, Dowske was taking morphine twice a day as well as hydrocodone.

"I was losing the ability to multitask," he said. "These pain killers resulted in a roller coaster cycle, so I asked Dr. Noto to help get me off the drugs,” said Dowske.

Dr. Noto, a ProHealth Care pain management specialist, determined that Dowske was a candidate for spinal cord stimulation. While nervous about the treatment at first, Dowske said realized he could not continue living with the pain, the medications and their side-effects.

After recovering from implant surgery, Dowske sings its praises. “I control the stimulator throughout the day, adjusting its settings. I recommend the device to others who are suffering from chronic pain,” said Dowske.

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