by Nesreen Suwan, M.D.
Dr. Nesreen Suwan, a board-certified neurologist and pain management specialist who operates the Advanced Pain & Spine Physician Center and Advanced Headache and Fibromyalgia Clinic & Diagnostics in suburban Lisle knows that it's vital for pain sufferers to be able to return to living a more normal life.
One of the more extraordinary stories about her many patients come from Cindy Domann who lives in St. Charles. Domann's own personal journey back to living a more functional life is a testament to her courage, as well as the strength fostered in the unique relationship between her and her neurologist.
Domann's problems have ranged from migraine headaches to total paralysis, due to complications she suffered over a decade ago following the birth of her daughter.
"I had a baby about 14 years ago, and there were complications with the childbirth," Domann recalled. "I never woke up after I had my daughter and was in a coma for three months. I'd developed a condition known as 'peripheral neuropathy' which affects the nerves that carry information to and from the brain and spinal cord."
The condition can produce pain, loss of sensation, and an inability to control muscles. In Domann's case, it left her paralyzed and she was told she might never walk again. Domann said she decided she would look for medical alternatives.
"I was living in New Mexico for about two years and confined to a wheel chair, and I was told I might never walk again," Domann said. "I decided I wanted to move back to Chicago because I felt there were better doctors here. I was having a lot of problems and kept injuring myself.
I found a chiropractor here who eventually referred me to Dr. Suwan."
Domann said after coming out of the coma, she started to get some of her motor movement back, but there were still problems with the nerves in her back and the atrophy in her quads that did not enable her to walk correctly. Her gait was off, and she frequently fell, resulting in further injuries that included broken bones and compression of discs in her back.
"I had trouble doing even basic things like driving my daughter to school. I'd lost feeling in my leg which made driving nearly impossible," she said.
"After waking up from coma, I was told that my muscles had atrophied. I could barely walk from the wheel chair to the bathroom."
Dr. Suwan proved to be the kind of doctor Domann needed. She said that from the start, she liked the way Suwan "treated the issues" and wasn't just "helping" her patient through the use of chemicals.
"So many of the other doctors I'd seen just prescribed medication for the pain that would mask the symptoms," she said. "Dr. Suwan's approach was to fix what it was that was causing the pain. She said that we'd address what was happening now, and as we took care of one pain, we go on to the next and take that on, one at a time and find some way to fix it. I felt like 'Humpty Dumpty' at times, but I knew Dr. Suwan had the right philosophy."
Domann said she has been working with Dr. Suwan now for about 10 years, adding that the relationship wouldn't have lasted this long if she wasn't seeing results. About 80 percent of her mobility and functionality has been restored, she said, thanks to Suwan's commitment to her patients and, as Domann says, "never giving up."
"I continued to have problems due to the fact that I kept falling," Domann said. "I developed back pain and headaches. Dr. Suwan began giving me trigger point injections. She also was able to get me off of morphine, which I had to use because of the pain.
I can't do things like run yet as my quads are too weak, but I've progressed where I have most of my mobility back which is wonderful, given that when I first came here I was using a quad cane and a walker."
Domann has since been helped by Dr. Suwan's associate, Dr. Ahmed Elborno, the medical director of the Adventist Hinsdale Hospital Pain Center of Excellence. Dr Elborno thought that Domann would be a good candidate for a fairly new "non-instrumental facet joint fusion for back pain, which Domann said was performed through a small laparoscopic incision.
"I've been through epidurals and facet injections, and RFA therapy that helped me through the years for short periods of six months or less some times and hopefully this non instrumental facet joint fusion procedure will provide a longer fix." Domann said. Her hopes are slowly, but surely, turning into a reality as the procedure has been more successful than any other previous treatment.
Domann still credits Suwan as her "primary doctor" who she entrusts with her general care and well-being. She said that over the years, the two have developed "a comfortable, personal relationship" and that Suwan remains "dedicated to what she does."
"I've gotten to know Dr. Suwan as a person, as we talk about our kids and other things when I see her," she said. "I feel relaxed and comfortable. She's not standoffish as some doctors are. I've had her cell phone number for years, and I can call her any time, day or night. It's like having your own doctor available 24/7. I've made many referrals over the years and everyone has liked her."
Nesreen Suwan, M.D, is a board certified neurologist with extra certification in Headache and Pain Medicine.
United Against Pain
As Featured In Glancer Magazine, February 2010