LAFAYETTE, Colo. (CBS4) – Becky Benson from Lafayette suffered with a debilitating headache for five long years. On a scale of one to 10, she says it was sometimes a 12. But Benson is now pain-free thanks to a tiny device implanted in her hip.

Benson explained that the pounding started in Spring of 2007.

“It was unbearable,” she said. “Starting here and just burning, pounding all the way up across your head. It was just awful.”

CBS4's Kathy Walsh interviews Becky Benson (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Kathy Walsh interviews Becky Benson (credit: CBS)

Benson said she assumed it was just a bad headache.

“You could take Tylenol every four hours forever and it would not go away,” she told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

The next five years were a living hell of debilitating pain.

“I went to an ear, nose and throat doctor, I went to eye doctors, I went to dentists,” said Benson. “I had one tell me it was in my head.”

The wife and mother quit her job and spent most of her days on the basement couch.

“You couldn’t smile, laugh, sneeze, cough. It all hurt,” she said. “There were days when it hurt to brush your teeth. I had CT scans. I had MRIs. I had a spinal tap.”

But Benson says they found nothing to explain her pain. After seeing more than two-dozen doctors and trying at least 50 medications, doctor number 26 came up with a solution.

“He’s my hero,” Benson said referring to pain specialist Dr. Michael McCeney at Kaiser Permanente Colorado.

“I like to think that science is the hero here,” said McCeney

For two years he tried to manage Benson’s pain. Then in 2012, McCeney suggested what he calls a therapy of last resort — a spinal cord stimulator.

Spinal cord stimulator (credit: CBS)

Spinal cord stimulator (credit: CBS)

“It’s basically like a pacemaker for pain,” McCeney explained.

A battery pack was implanted above Benson’s hip. Wires with electrodes were positioned up her spine and in the back of her neck. The battery sends pulses of electricity along the wires.

Becky Benson with her spinal cord stimulator (credit: CBS)

Becky Benson with her spinal cord stimulator (credit: CBS)

According to McCeney, “That electricity actually travels back into the spinal cord and synapses with the headache center of the brain and helps reduce headache, we think.”

Doctors aren’t exactly sure how it works. Now headache-free, Benson doesn’t care.

“I have five years to make up for,” said Benson.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

She’s doing her best. She’s been to Hawaii, Mexico, Las Vegas and St. Thomas. Her smile in the vacation photographs says it all.

“When I haven’t been in to see a doctor for pain reasons in three years, it’s wonderful,” Benson said.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.


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