Northern Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, LLC | Eagle River, AK
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Northern Anesthesia & Pain Medicine, LLC

Your Stories

We're here to help, but the stories are yours.  This page is to give credit where credit is due - to you who've not only done the hard work of healing, but are also willing to encourage the community by your examples of perseverance and courage in not letting pain define and limit you.  Thank you for the privilege of serving you.

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“When the pain of not changing exceeds the pain of changing...”

My pain started in my 20s after a car accident and a waterskiing accident.  I tried PT, chiropractic, biofeedback, acupuncture, massage and dabbled in pain killers.  I lived my life around my pain!  When I was in my later 30s my pain began to be unbearable, I was wearing patches as well as taking opioids, and then ended up having surgery.  I was referred to a pain provider that monitored my meds and over time they were increased.  I ended up having a couple other surgeries; one on my foot and one on my hip. At this point in my life, I felt that the drugs were helping me to be a productive person.

As you can see, I have a pain history, however, I believe my Pain Journey started in February of 2015. I took a bad and traumatic fall down a hill and fractured my opposite hip, my new hip held up like a champ.  My pain increased and after consulting my pain provider, she noted I was maxed out on pain medications; she was unable to prescribe more. This was a WAKE-UP CALL from God!  I realized something had to change.  I was becoming aware that I was deceiving myself, thinking pain meds were a lifeline.

While contemplating my next steps, I received a call from a Blue Cross advocate who asked if she could be of assistance.  She helped give me a voice, helped me articulate my feelings and pain.  She was my sounding board. She helped me decipher my thoughts and feelings. She gets me as she walks down MY road.  God sent her to me.

I decided it was time to decrease my pain meds. I went to my pain provider and she questioned my decision. I felt like she was saying “you can’t do this!”.  After many months, I finally decided I was not getting support on my journey and decided to leave my pain provider.  I went to my primary care physician and asked if he’d help me wean off the meds.  God interceded again by my doc saying “no”, as he felt I needed the support of a specialist; Dr. McAnally.  I truly believe Dr. McAnally’s calling, is to touch those with chronic pain.  He shares his knowledge and expertise and does this with his whole heart.  As I was weaning off my pain meds I was introduced to Donna, who by the way is amazing and full of encouragement.  Whether we are talking about movement, nutrition, sleep or neuroplasticity she always gives me hope! When I walk into NAPM clinic, I feel at home.  The staff is warm and welcoming.  What’s important to me and my journey, is what Dr. McAnally and Donna focus on. They do this in a very interconnected way; spiritually, physically, and mentally. This allows me to have hope and face my fears head on. I’m still dealing with pain, but the focus is different, it’s a mind shift, shifting to wellness.  This mind shift is a true God send. I was living my life around pain.  Now my pain is secondary, and I no longer let my pain limit or define me.  I have a sense of freedom.

Dr. McAnally once told me one of his mentor’s favorite sayings was: “People don’t change until the pain of not changing exceeds the pain of changing”.  Changing for me was difficult because my life revolved around “my next set”.  I always was thinking about pain, meds and my next pain clinic visit, it’s what I knew, I was comfortable.  It became apparent that my dependence had turned into my identity.  My self-esteem was suffering, and I came to a crossroad.  I started hiking Thunderbird Falls with a friend several times a week and wanted to be present in the great outdoors.  Not changing was now more painful than the pain itself.  I was beating myself up and was sick and tired of being sick and tired.  My husband Robbie has always been there for me no matter what.  The road I was on was full of pot holes and I was having trouble avoiding them, I decided I was worth exploring another road.

I’m 57 now and my Pain Journey continues. It’s one step at a time, with layers upon layers. With the help and support of Dr. McAnally I can persevere without medication.  I’ve gained and learned multiple tools to add to my growing “tool box”.

Through this process, I’ve grown closer to God and am able feel His calming presence.  I’ve also been able to better connect with my family. They acknowledge this presence and share their joy in my more active role in our family.  Since I have been off the meds I’ve become a Gramma to a beautiful baby boy and enjoy every minute I’m with him!

I have spent this last summer and fall hiking places like Symphony Lake, The Butte and Hatcher Pass with friends and family.   This was such a milestone in my journey to physically conquer the great outdoors, that I got a little tattoo of the mountains that says, “one step at a time”!

I have 3+ Musketeers that continue to be a part of my wellness team; Dr. McAnally, Donna, Chris Wilson, my Physical Therapist, Dr. Elton, my Primary Care Doctor and my Blue Cross advocate, Heidi.

AND, most importantly, God has blessed me with incredible cheerleaders in my husband, Robbie, and my adult children, Sarah and Matt.

 

“When the pain of not changing exceeds the pain of changing...”

My pain started in my 20s after a car accident and a waterskiing accident.  I tried PT, chiropractic, biofeedback, acupuncture, massage and dabbled in pain killers.  I lived my life around my pain!  When I was in my later 30s my pain began to be unbearable, I was wearing patches as well as taking opioids, and then ended up having surgery.  I was referred to a pain provider that monitored my meds and over time they were increased.  I ended up having a couple other surgeries; one on my foot and one on my hip. At this point in my life, I felt that the drugs were helping me to be a productive person.

As you can see, I have a pain history, however, I believe my Pain Journey started in February of 2015. I took a bad and traumatic fall down a hill and fractured my opposite hip, my new hip held up like a champ.  My pain increased and after consulting my pain provider, she noted I was maxed out on pain medications; she was unable to prescribe more. This was a WAKE-UP CALL from God!  I realized something had to change.  I was becoming aware that I was deceiving myself, thinking pain meds were a lifeline.

While contemplating my next steps, I received a call from a Blue Cross advocate who asked if she could be of assistance.  She helped give me a voice, helped me articulate my feelings and pain.  She was my sounding board. She helped me decipher my thoughts and feelings. She gets me as she walks down MY road.  God sent her to me.

I decided it was time to decrease my pain meds. I went to my pain provider and she questioned my decision. I felt like she was saying “you can’t do this!”.  After many months, I finally decided I was not getting support on my journey and decided to leave my pain provider.  I went to my primary care physician and asked if he’d help me wean off the meds.  God interceded again by my doc saying “no”, as he felt I needed the support of a specialist; Dr. McAnally.  I truly believe Dr. McAnally’s calling, is to touch those with chronic pain.  He shares his knowledge and expertise and does this with his whole heart.  As I was weaning off my pain meds I was introduced to Donna, who by the way is amazing and full of encouragement.  Whether we are talking about movement, nutrition, sleep or neuroplasticity she always gives me hope! When I walk into NAPM clinic, I feel at home.  The staff is warm and welcoming.  What’s important to me and my journey, is what Dr. McAnally and Donna focus on. They do this in a very interconnected way; spiritually, physically, and mentally. This allows me to have hope and face my fears head on. I’m still dealing with pain, but the focus is different, it’s a mind shift, shifting to wellness.  This mind shift is a true God send. I was living my life around pain.  Now my pain is secondary, and I no longer let my pain limit or define me.  I have a sense of freedom.

Dr. McAnally once told me one of his mentor’s favorite sayings was: “People don’t change until the pain of not changing exceeds the pain of changing”.  Changing for me was difficult because my life revolved around “my next set”.  I always was thinking about pain, meds and my next pain clinic visit, it’s what I knew, I was comfortable.  It became apparent that my dependence had turned into my identity.  My self-esteem was suffering, and I came to a crossroad.  I started hiking Thunderbird Falls with a friend several times a week and wanted to be present in the great outdoors.  Not changing was now more painful than the pain itself.  I was beating myself up and was sick and tired of being sick and tired.  My husband Robbie has always been there for me no matter what.  The road I was on was full of pot holes and I was having trouble avoiding them, I decided I was worth exploring another road.

I’m 57 now and my Pain Journey continues. It’s one step at a time, with layers upon layers. With the help and support of Dr. McAnally I can persevere without medication.  I’ve gained and learned multiple tools to add to my growing “tool box”.

Through this process, I’ve grown closer to God and am able feel His calming presence.  I’ve also been able to better connect with my family. They acknowledge this presence and share their joy in my more active role in our family.  Since I have been off the meds I’ve become a Gramma to a beautiful baby boy and enjoy every minute I’m with him!

I have spent this last summer and fall hiking places like Symphony Lake, The Butte and Hatcher Pass with friends and family.   This was such a milestone in my journey to physically conquer the great outdoors, that I got a little tattoo of the mountains that says, “one step at a time”!

I have 3+ Musketeers that continue to be a part of my wellness team; Dr. McAnally, Donna, Chris Wilson, my Physical Therapist, Dr. Elton, my Primary Care Doctor and my Blue Cross advocate, Heidi.

AND, most importantly, God has blessed me with incredible cheerleaders in my husband, Robbie, and my adult children, Sarah and Matt.

 

“The triumphs and tribulations of being wheelchair-bound for 20 years.”

 

In March 1998 I had a mini-stroke. I started taking aspirin as instructed, but in April of that year while building my house, I had another one, and fell off the building, landing on my head and crushing the C5-C7 vertebrae in my neck. I was paralyzed instantly from the armpits to my feet. Surgeons did all they could, but a month later, while still recovering in the hospital, while I requested help to adjust myself in bed (I can’t move) an orderly jerked on my upper body roughly and broke my neck again. Another 6-hour operation on my neck, and 4 months in the hospital recovering followed that. Needless to say, adjusting to the reality of my paralysis, the future of my business and my family’s survival have not been easy.

 

Being paralyzed sets one up for multiple other problems and setbacks, and the harsh realities of both inevitable medical complications and avoidable negligence on the part of others have led to quite a bit of additional suffering I am not going to expound on here.

 

I was referred to Dr. McAnally a couple years ago for help with pain management, and he and his team have helped in many ways, praying with me, and helping me to detoxify off of stupefying doses of narcotics I’d been put on. My quality of life has been much more productive, and I am much more aware of my surroundings since coming off of these.
There have been many other individuals in my life that have graciously and kindly helped out. Friends have housed us, and helped us to build a wheelchair-friendly house. Our family and friends have supported me emotionally, physically and financially. Many care assistants over the years have been a Godsend.

 

Above all, I have had to grow in my absolute faith and dependence in God. That relationship has required me to choose forgiveness for the negativities and hardships that have placed burdens upon me and my family, and contributed to my earthly destiny of being wheelchair-bound. God is my sole strength.

-John Alexander

“The triumphs and tribulations of being wheelchair-bound for 20 years.”

“The triumphs and tribulations of being wheelchair-bound for 20 years.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The triumphs and tribulations of being wheelchair-bound for 20 years.”

 

In March 1998 I had a mini-stroke. I started taking aspirin as instructed, but in April of that year while building my house, I had another one, and fell off the building, landing on my head and crushing the C5-C7 vertebrae in my neck. I was paralyzed instantly from the armpits to my feet. Surgeons did all they could, but a month later, while still recovering in the hospital, while I requested help to adjust myself in bed (I can’t move) an orderly jerked on my upper body roughly and broke my neck again. Another 6-hour operation on my neck, and 4 months in the hospital recovering followed that. Needless to say, adjusting to the reality of my paralysis, the future of my business and my family’s survival have not been easy.

 

Being paralyzed sets one up for multiple other problems and setbacks, and the harsh realities of both inevitable medical complications and avoidable negligence on the part of others have led to quite a bit of additional suffering I am not going to expound on here.

 

I was referred to Dr. McAnally a couple years ago for help with pain management, and he and his team have helped in many ways, praying with me, and helping me to detoxify off of stupefying doses of narcotics I’d been put on. My quality of life has been much more productive, and I am much more aware of my surroundings since coming off of these.
There have been many other individuals in my life that have graciously and kindly helped out. Friends have housed us, and helped us to build a wheelchair-friendly house. Our family and friends have supported me emotionally, physically and financially. Many care assistants over the years have been a Godsend.

 

Above all, I have had to grow in my absolute faith and dependence in God. That relationship has required me to choose forgiveness for the negativities and hardships that have placed burdens upon me and my family, and contributed to my earthly destiny of being wheelchair-bound. God is my sole strength.

“The triumphs and tribulations of being wheelchair-bound for 20 years.”

“The triumphs and tribulations of being wheelchair-bound for 20 years.”

 

Life is good.

 

My story is as much about my husband as myself. It is our story because Don was greatly affected by my disability that kept me reclusive and wrapped in ice for months at a time. It was Don who assumed the responsibility for finding the people and places that might relieve my misery. It began at the age of 61 with a sudden piercing pain that shot from the base of my skull up through my head with a force that I would not have thought possible. It came from a water skiing accident that severely damaged the occipital nerve which is a large nerve capable of horrendous, unmitigated pain. The first diagnosis was a muscle spasm that, I was told, would go away. It didn’t.

 

Over the years I tried chiropractic, hypnosis, acupuncture, traditional medicine, homeopathic medicine, nerve blocks and surgery. Still the trips to ER continued sometimes more than once a day. 9 surgeries and countless procedures later I was pain free for what turned out to be a temporary cure. Don and I resumed our practice of riding bicycle and we started tracking the miles. I was two rides away from 1,500 miles for the year when I started feeling the twinges in my neck that signaled the return of pain. There was no surgical fix this time. Pain meds were the only option. They became my lifeline.

 

Then we moved to Alaska. The meds continued by adding more and more until I truly became a zombie. I stopped driving when I recognized that I was weaving to stay on the road even though I had been assured that my meds were under the legal limit. Dr. Heather Jones, my new primary care physician, asked me if I would consider seeing another pain med specialist. At this point a new doctor implied hope. The downhill slide was frightening. She sent me to Dr. McAnally. Our first meeting was dramatic and a little scary. His first words, when he looked at my list of meds, were: “If you stay with me I will knock holes in your meds”. I was a little terrified. These meds were my life line. But Dr. McAnally knew better and he convinced me to try. I trusted him and it paid off. Within a week I was climbing out of the depths of despair and leaving behind a brain of mush. I felt alive with hopes of better days to come. Dr. McAnally was the first doctor to suggest to me that “less is more”. He explained how pain meds can cause pain. He eased me away from all of my prescriptions that were causing unwanted side effects. Now I have some discomfort, but am med free and enjoying life. At age 76 I can still ride a bike, a snowmachine, a four wheeler and play with our sons, grandkids, and granddogs. I’m fully functional in the home (bake bread once a week) and Don and I walk miles every week all year. We travel when we want to and life is good.

 

At this time I remember to thank God every day for the ability to enjoy our incredible Alaska experience with all its opportunity to enjoy the land and its people. With thanksgiving I also remember a most amazing doctor who truly gave life back to me through his belief that the human body is capable of helping itself if we give it a chance.

 

-Helen Hoover

Life is good.

 

My story is as much about my husband as myself. It is our story because Don was greatly affected by my disability that kept me reclusive and wrapped in ice for months at a time. It was Don who assumed the responsibility for finding the people and places that might relieve my misery. It began at the age of 61 with a sudden piercing pain that shot from the base of my skull up through my head with a force that I would not have thought possible. It came from a water skiing accident that severely damaged the occipital nerve which is a large nerve capable of horrendous, unmitigated pain. The first diagnosis was a muscle spasm that, I was told, would go away. It didn’t.

 

Over the years I tried chiropractic, hypnosis, acupuncture, traditional medicine, homeopathic medicine, nerve blocks and surgery. Still the trips to ER continued sometimes more than once a day. 9 surgeries and countless procedures later I was pain free for what turned out to be a temporary cure. Don and I resumed our practice of riding bicycle and we started tracking the miles. I was two rides away from 1,500 miles for the year when I started feeling the twinges in my neck that signaled the return of pain. There was no surgical fix this time. Pain meds were the only option. They became my lifeline.

 

Then we moved to Alaska. The meds continued by adding more and more until I truly became a zombie. I stopped driving when I recognized that I was weaving to stay on the road even though I had been assured that my meds were under the legal limit. Dr. Heather Jones, my new primary care physician, asked me if I would consider seeing another pain med specialist. At this point a new doctor implied hope. The downhill slide was frightening. She sent me to Dr. McAnally. Our first meeting was dramatic and a little scary. His first words, when he looked at my list of meds, were: “If you stay with me I will knock holes in your meds”. I was a little terrified. These meds were my life line. But Dr. McAnally knew better and he convinced me to try. I trusted him and it paid off. Within a week I was climbing out of the depths of despair and leaving behind a brain of mush. I felt alive with hopes of better days to come. Dr. McAnally was the first doctor to suggest to me that “less is more”. He explained how pain meds can cause pain. He eased me away from all of my prescriptions that were causing unwanted side effects. Now I have some discomfort, but am med free and enjoying life. At age 76 I can still ride a bike, a snowmachine, a four wheeler and play with our sons, grandkids, and granddogs. I’m fully functional in the home (bake bread once a week) and Don and I walk miles every week all year. We travel when we want to and life is good.

 

At this time I remember to thank God every day for the ability to enjoy our incredible Alaska experience with all its opportunity to enjoy the land and its people. With thanksgiving I also remember a most amazing doctor who truly gave life back to me through his belief that the human body is capable of helping itself if we give it a chance.

 

-Helen Hoover

Opposition means growth!

 

My spine surgeon first sent me to Northern Anesthesia & Pain Medicine for spinal injections in my lower back to diagnose and provide some pain relief for severe and worsening low back pain that had begun to erode my work productivity, overall functionality, and really my quality of life altogether. Dr. McAnally injected my facet joints in late 2016, and it provided significant relief of my pain until I could undergo the operation I needed. At the time ago, I didn’t know how important the relationship would become to me. Prior to the procedure and that operation, I had been treated at another clinic with narcotic medications, and when they stopped working, as they always do, they just kept prescribing more and more until I was on astronomical doses and yet still miserable. From my very first visit, the team at NAPM welcomed me in warmly and laid out for me comprehensive plan for weaning off of these dangerous and pointless drugs while also helping me set and achieve healthy lifestyle goals, especially pertaining to diet and exercise. I worked hard to overhaul my habits, and although it was ridiculously difficult to get off of the painkillers in the timeframe I committed myself to, I was determined to do so, and within 3 months I was free of them.

 

I wish I could say everything went perfectly fine from there, but it didn’t. I developed a severe infection after the operation that required an emergency reoperation. In addition to that I had to have a “PICC line” implanted into my arm for administration of IV antibiotics for several weeks to treat the infection. Then, partly because of the PICC line in my arm I developed a dangerous blood clot there and the whole thing had to be removed and a larger central line sewn into my chest for the antibiotics, and also blood thinners. Needless to say, I hadn’t counted on any of this and it set me back physically and psychologically in a big way. Through the course of that winter (2016) I became profoundly depressed as well as very unhealthy physically. The team at NAPM though were with me through it all, offering kind and compassionate medical care and friendship, counseling and most importantly prayer. They helped guide me to a place of hope when all I could perceive was despair. I don’t know what the remainder of my life will look like; I’m taking a little time off professionally to reevaluate my priorities and goals. I have been blessed with restoration of my health. Above all though, I am supremely grateful for my friends at NAPM who demonstrated to me time and time again that the love of God, shared through his people is the greatest healing power in this world.

 
-Dylan Shorter

 

 

 

Opposition means growth!

 

My spine surgeon first sent me to Northern Anesthesia & Pain Medicine for spinal injections in my lower back to diagnose and provide some pain relief for severe and worsening low back pain that had begun to erode my work productivity, overall functionality, and really my quality of life altogether. Dr. McAnally injected my facet joints in late 2016, and it provided significant relief of my pain until I could undergo the operation I needed. At the time ago, I didn’t know how important the relationship would become to me. Prior to the procedure and that operation, I had been treated at another clinic with narcotic medications, and when they stopped working, as they always do, they just kept prescribing more and more until I was on astronomical doses and yet still miserable. From my very first visit, the team at NAPM welcomed me in warmly and laid out for me comprehensive plan for weaning off of these dangerous and pointless drugs while also helping me set and achieve healthy lifestyle goals, especially pertaining to diet and exercise. I worked hard to overhaul my habits, and although it was ridiculously difficult to get off of the painkillers in the timeframe I committed myself to, I was determined to do so, and within 3 months I was free of them.

 

I wish I could say everything went perfectly fine from there, but it didn’t. I developed a severe infection after the operation that required an emergency reoperation. In addition to that I had to have a “PICC line” implanted into my arm for administration of IV antibiotics for several weeks to treat the infection. Then, partly because of the PICC line in my arm I developed a dangerous blood clot there and the whole thing had to be removed and a larger central line sewn into my chest for the antibiotics, and also blood thinners. Needless to say, I hadn’t counted on any of this and it set me back physically and psychologically in a big way. Through the course of that winter (2016) I became profoundly depressed as well as very unhealthy physically. The team at NAPM though were with me through it all, offering kind and compassionate medical care and friendship, counseling and most importantly prayer. They helped guide me to a place of hope when all I could perceive was despair. I don’t know what the remainder of my life will look like; I’m taking a little time off professionally to reevaluate my priorities and goals. I have been blessed with restoration of my health. Above all though, I am supremely grateful for my friends at NAPM who demonstrated to me time and time again that the love of God, shared through his people is the greatest healing power in this world.

 
-Dylan Shorter

 

 

 

From the ICU to the roof of the world.

 

I consider myself an active person who thrives on physical and mental challenges-both in my work life and play lives. Last year while getting ready to trek to Everest Base Camp, I fell running down Pike’s Peak. It was a freak accident that caused a very serious lung/chest injury along with a back injury. Obviously I couldn’t go to Everest but I was lucky to be alive. The months that followed were some of the most challenging ones I have ever experienced. The physical limitations, pain, loss of sleep, changes in daily activity patterns were demoralizing and depressing. Because of who I am, I didn’t want to treat my pain with medication. I challenged myself physically and was disappointed, frustrated when I wasn’t getting better as fast as I wanted to. I wanted ME back.

 

When I wanted to give in, I thought of those people I have met in life that don’t say NO to their physical limitations. Dr. McAnally gave me hope by teaching me about my back injury and the natural healing processes. Together we developed a treatment plan that focused on supporting my body’s natural healing processes. Once I took ownership of my recovery (instead of being a victim of my injury), I became very active in healing program.  I read several books on back health including the Back Foundation, Move Your DNA, Alignment Matters (Katy Bowman). Daily movement, PT, massage, yoga, nutrition, spirituality and laughter were critical elements. I slowly felt better and this gave me confidence in myself again. I started doing the things I loved.

 

I am happy to say, that I got the ME back-probably a better one too! I will always have a little pain in my life. That’s OK because I use that pain to help modify my activity-not limit it. I keep those back books close by and do the exercises daily. I am happy to say, I made it to Everest one year after my injury! Breathtaking!!

 

 

Your stories, Northern Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, LLC, Eagle River, Alaska

 

Your stories, Northern Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, LLC, Eagle River, Alaska
Jane Noonan, MSN, ANP, NNP

 

 

Jane's Story

 

I consider myself an active person who thrives on physical and mental challenges-both in my work life and play lives. Last year while getting ready to trek to Everest Base Camp, I fell running down Pike’s Peak. It was a freak accident that caused a very serious lung/chest injury along with a back injury. Obviously I couldn’t go to Everest but I was lucky to be alive. The months that followed were some of the most challenging ones I have ever experienced. The physical limitations, pain, loss of sleep, changes in daily activity patterns were demoralizing and depressing. Because of who I am, I didn’t want to treat my pain with medication. I challenged myself physically and was disappointed, frustrated when I wasn’t getting better as fast as I wanted to. I wanted ME back.

 

When I wanted to give in, I thought of those people I have met in life that don’t say NO to their physical limitations. Dr. McAnally gave me hope by teaching me about my back injury and the natural healing processes. Together we developed a treatment plan that focused on supporting my body’s natural healing processes. Once I took ownership of my recovery (instead of being a victim of my injury), I became very active in healing program.  I read several books on back health including the Back Foundation, Move Your DNA, Alignment Matters (Katy Bowman). Daily movement, PT, massage, yoga, nutrition, spirituality and laughter were critical elements. I slowly felt better and this gave me confidence in myself again. I started doing the things I loved.

 

I am happy to say, that I got the ME back-probably a better one too! I will always have a little pain in my life. That’s OK because I use that pain to help modify my activity-not limit it. I keep those back books close by and do the exercises daily. I am happy to say, I made it to Everest one year after my injury! Breathtaking!!

 

 

Your stories, Northern Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, LLC, Eagle River, Alaska

 

Your stories, Northern Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, LLC, Eagle River, Alaska
Jane Noonan, MSN, ANP, NNP