I was developing daily pain from a 20+ year sports injury. My orthopaedic surgeon ordered an x-ray. My fourth lumbar vertebrae was out of alignment, causing nerve pain to radiate into my right hip and travel to the outside of that hip to the front and medial part of my quadriceps. He recommended an epidural shot for pain relief.

I must have been a difficult case, because my first attempt at the epidural, even with three tries with the needle coming in at different angles, the best spot could not be reached. The doctor was very supportive, but I left feeling disappointed and wondered if I could ever get pain relief.

As I was sharing my story with another orthopedist, he reminded me that Pain Management was a part of IBJI and that an anesthesiologist was on staff there. So, I hopefully made an appointment with Dr. Brooke Vanderby.

When I first met Dr. Vanderby, I told her of my first attempt at treatment and my feelings of disappointment and anxiety about getting help from an epidural. I also told her I had continual pain on the tops of both of my feet from Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Her able assistant helped me get into place on the table. Dr. Vanderby began by asking me about my career, and I was off to the races telling her about my life. I realized later that her bedside manner had helped me relax and kept my mind off of negativity. She informed me throughout the treatment of what she would be performing next, which I really appreciated. I had no time to worry what was coming next. This also helped me trust her.

She seemed to have no trouble finding the best spot for the needle, and within a few minutes, the treatment was finished. I had very little pain throughout.

I was then escorted back to my original treatment room, where I met Clarissa, one of Dr. Vanderby's assistants. She told me about some sample gels she could give me to relieve my foot pain. I happily accepted them.

My epidural worked splendidly. No pain! I was running out of gel, which was taking away 50+% of my foot pain, so I called Clarissa and asked if she had some more samples. She did and arranged for me to pick them up at the desk. I asked about the cost so I could order a larger amount. Well, she checked, and it turned out that it would cost hundreds of dollars for me to acquire a larger amount. That was not in my budget. Clarissa told me she might be able to get me a larger sample - a bottle - of the gel, but she could not promise. Three weeks later, I received a call from Clarissa. She had secured the bottle of gel! Who does this in this day and age? Goes out of their way to help a patient! I was so grateful. Thank you, Clarissa!

Getting back to the epidural - I had no pain in my hip for nine months from that first shot! Amazing! I made another appointment for a second shot. Unfortunately, this time I was on the table longer, and with lots more intermittent nerve pain. Dr. Vanderby thought I might have had inflammation in the area. My relief lasted just a few weeks, and I decided to live with the pain until I could get another shot. I used acetaminophen at night so I could sleep through and took it during the day if the pain was too much.

Enter Rauqy, another one of Dr. Vanderby's assistants. I made an appointment for a third shot and shared with Rauqy about my pain and Dr. Vanderby's comment about inflammation. So, Rauqy asked me what I had been using for pain relief. “Acetaminophen,” I answered, and she said that would decrease pain, but it would not decrease inflammation. Light bulb! Duh! I told Rauqy I had heard that ibuprofen could cause stomach bleeding, so I was shying away from using it. She said Dr. Vanderby would probably recommend an anti-inflammatory prescription, and I would not have a stomach bleed. That sounded like it might help.

I picked up the prescription, took it at 2pm and by 3pm I had no pain! Amazing! Thank you Rauqy and thank you Dr. Vanderby.

I remained pain free until seeing Dr. Vanderby for my third shot.

When I went to my most recent appointment on Friday, September 18, I could not remember which office I was scheduled at. As I drove to the Glenview Doctors' Office I decided to call Dr. Vanderby’s assistants to confirm the location.

Clarissa called me back to confirm that my appointment was at the Wilmette Doctors' Office. She said that she was surprised that I even picked up the phone as she was at home and calling from her personal phone number that most people would not recognize or pick up from. She went above and beyond to call me on her day off to make sure I had the right information.

Upon arrival, Dr. Vanderby was there, with her calm, professional attitude, accompanied by her excellent bedside manner. All of Dr. Vanderby’s staff members are professional, able, calm, kind and helpful.

I was prepared for a 10 minute or so treatment. Two, three minutes go by. There were a few twinges for me, but I'm calm, confident in Dr. Vanderby's skill.

Then Dr. Vanderby says, ''The needle’s out." I say, "It is? Wow!"

How can I not share with anyone who takes time to read this story what a satisfying relationship it has been for me to be cared for by Dr. Vanderby, her clinical assistants, and Clarissa and Rauqy and the rest of her staff. As I said to Dr. Vanderby, you are stellar! And she is. I’ve seen many doctors and staff throughout the years and Dr. Vanderby and her staff have been exceptional. I just had to tell the world how great she is.

Brooke Vanderby, MD, is a board-certified anesthesiologist and pain management specialist. After completing her residency in anesthesiology, Dr. Vanderby pursued a fellowship in pain management. She has a passion for educating herself about the latest advances in minimally invasive procedures, non-narcotic medications, and holistic and integrative medicine.

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