Finding a New Lease on Life: Michael Bowbliss
Michael Bowbliss found relief from his chronic pain and so much more through the Dean Stroud Spine and Pain Institute at Shepherd Center.
Michael Bowbliss credits the Dean Stroud Spine and Pain Institute at Shepherd Center not only with easing his pain, but also saving his life.
“I was close to suicide,” Michael recalls. “I would not be here today – and have the life I have – without Dr. Shaw and his team.”
On May 7, 2009, Michael was getting a routine blood draw for a life insurance policy when the technician missed his vein and accidentally hit a nerve. The injury resulted in a condition called chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS-II), causing Michael to have debilitating nerve pain “24/7” from his fingers to his elbow.
“The pain was unbearable,” Michael says. “It was like constantly banging your funny bone, but there was no bang.”
He saw several doctors, but no one could find a solution.
“They dismissed me,” he says, “telling me there was nothing they could do. I was struggling as a father, my marriage failed and I thought my life as I knew it was over.”
Finally, in spring 2011, Michael was referred to the Spine and Pain Institute. There, he met with Erik Shaw, D.O., the medical director of the Institute. Dr. Shaw listened to his story, diagnosed him and laid out a plan for treatment. The solution was an infusion-based therapy that provided him with real relief.
One of the factors that sets the Spine and Pain Institute apart is the multi-disciplinary approach taken to treat chronic pain. In addition to his visits with Dr. Shaw, Michael also saw a psychologist and a physical therapist to complement the treatment he was receiving.
“For the first time, I felt people were hearing me,” he says. “And they understood what I was going through.”
Michael says that through it all, the reason he kept getting up every morning was for his three children.
“Shepherd gave the abilities and treatments to improve, yet the drive to find a sense of normalcy was because of my children and wanting to be a better dad to them and for them,” he says. “Shepherd helped make that possible.”
Though Michael was not cured overnight, and he still receives infusions every few months, the improvements gave him a new lease on life.
He decided to go back to college, earning a bachelor’s of science degree in education. He is now a special education teacher at Mountain View High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and also coaches wrestling and football at the school.
“If it wasn’t for Shepherd Center, I wouldn’t be alive today,” Michael says. “I am now a college graduate, a well-respected coach and I’m living a life I thought was gone. It is an amazing place.”
Written by Sara Baxter
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 740 inpatients, nearly 280 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.