Healing Walk

Yes, Patti Koblewski’s finish at the Honolulu Marathon is remarkable. As a patient of Arizona Pain, she recovered from spine surgery to finish, of all things, a race of endurance. This is nothing short of miraculous. yet this isn’t just another story of an APS patient who’s gone on to incredible athletic accomplishment.

Patti Koblewski is notable not just for her stamina, but her spirit. four years ago, cleaning house – as she’d done countless times before – Patti noticed her back stiffen after a simple afternoon of vacuuming. Two days later, there was tingling and, she had numbness in her toe. After countless visits to her general practitioner with steadily increasing pain, Patti knew she needed specified care.

“I was referred to Arizona Pain,” she says. “An MRI showed a 14mm extrusion from my L4-L5 disc; essentially I had a small rock pressing on my spinal cord.”

After a microdiscectomy at a nearby hospital, Patti returned to APS for treatment for long-term care.

“I have permanent nerve damage down my right side, from my low back to the toe; some permanent numbness and tingling which can be annoying,” she says. “I have degenerative disc disease with 3 levels affected; all bulging; L3-L4 is partially collapsed, L4-L5 is collapsed and L5-S1 is on its way. I also have occipital neuropathy, which creates constant pounding in the back of my head and constant headaches.”

Patti manages her chronic pain with visits to a handful of practitioners at APS.

I have medial branch blocks and RfAs each year for my neck and back to help manage my pain; I also see chiropractor Dr. Chance Moore monthly for regular decompression; I have a TENS unit and manual cervical traction unit I can
use as needed at home too. These help manage my pain, which allows me to do basic exercise — and has allowed me to enjoy life again.

The former competitive and collegiate swimmer was grounded by pain. As someone who regularly found comfort and joy in exercise, being held back by persistent pain was life altering. Thankfully, with on-going care and attention to her condition, Patti was able to return to activity. “I keep finding new things I can do!” she says, laughing.

A Herculean activity Patti never previously considered was completing a marathon. It took just the mention from a friend for Patti to sign up. She knew with continued care and persistence she could be among the throngs throwing her hands up in victory, crossing the finish line after 26.2 miles in Honolulu.

“When a friend asked last year, we laughed. When am I ever going to get a chance to do something like this again?,” she says. “I visited my doctors and got permission to begin training, with their support. I had monthly visits to make sure I wasn’t creating any additional problems for my back.”
Finish, she did – in the process raising $3,200 for the AIDS Project of Los Angeles.

Patti crossed the marathon finish line in December, with APS supporting her race and cheering for her success. In admiration of her persistence, APS staff asked if Patti would consider becoming a patient ambassador. Would she be willing to encourage patients in similar situations? Yes, and then some.

“I have a graduate degree in clinical psychology,” she says. I volunteer with APS behavioral health therapist, Larry Lynch, to facilitate the pain support group. I help keep everyone connected via social media, coordinate and plan our social activities, and perhaps most importantly, I have online access during our meetings so we can do immediate research if necessary. I’m also able to bring a unique perspective to the group as both a person in pain and someone who is able to help counsel others.” APS staff and Patti are working out the details for those interested to participate in an exercise support group too.

“My motivation for the walking club was primarily to get people in pain moving when they think there is nothing they can do, like I did before my marathon, and to increase awareness in the community about pain management. It’s a responsibility to help others with their pain and let them know that they are not alone; there are options available for them!”

Patti’s enthusiasm is contagious. She is sincerely excited to encourage others.

I’m passionate about reaching those in pain, and doing what I can to help them find ways to successfully manage their pain. I want people to know that they are not doomed to a life of pain, depression and pills. you have options and there is support available.” Arizona Pain is a tremendously supportive team of doctors who provide comprehensive care to their patients, ultimately enabling them to improve their quality of life through successful pain management.

Those interested in the support group, or the walking club, can reach Patti at: pkoblewski@cox.net