"I fought very hard to save my leg. When I realized that I was going to have an amputation, I thought at least my life could get back to some semblance of order," says Roman. "I was wrong."
After his leg was removed, Roman suffered from phantom leg pain, which is very common to amputees.
Three "revisions" (a surgical shortening of the stump) were also performed. The pain only worsened. Like many people with chronic pain, he took powerful prescription drugs to treat the pain and eventually became addicted to morphine and other pain medications.
After a decade of debilitating pain that rendered him unable to work and led to drug addiction, Roman met a St. Louis pain specialist who implanted in him a revolutionary spinal cord stimulator device. Now he is finally free of pain and pursuing his dream of racing in the Indianapolis 500.
Roman's efforts serve as hope of a normal life for thousands of people who suffer from chronic pain.
"Now that I have my life back, I am using my new profile as a race car driver to talk with doctors and patients about the alternatives to living with chronic pain in every city where I race," Roman says enthusiastically. He looks forward to sharing his story with pain patients and local physicians.
Roman encourages people living with chronic pain, and their families, to visit an educational Web site that is fittingly called www.RaceAgainstPain.com.
On the Web site, chronic pain sufferers and their families can locate a pain specialist near where they live and can share their experiences with other victims of chronic pain.
Pain Is a Major Health Care Concern
An estimated 3 million people suffer from chronic pain so severe that they can't work.
It is further estimated that over 50 million patients suffer from chronic pain due to back, leg and hip problems, chemotherapy, amputation, diabetes, facial nerve problems, HIV infections, multiple sclerosis, shingles, and spine surgery.
Iraqi War Veterans
Many veterans returning from the Iraq War are suffering from chronic pain from various causes.
"These brave soldiers will often require caring pain specialists," says Kevin Coleman, M.D., the St. Louis pain specialist who treated Roman with a spinal cord stimulator. "There are a number of ways to treat neuropathic pain that occurs when nerves are injured, cut or damaged. Modalities used can range from oral medications to more aggressive techniques such as spinal cord stimulation. Every patient is different and requires an individual pain treatment plan."
The Race Against Pain Web site provides services for pain sufferers and their families, including opportunities to share their stories and information with fellow pain patients, and to find a pain specialist near where they live.