UPDATE: Bryce Baker is continuing to pursue his dream of playing baseball professionally, and he credits Mary Free Bed’s Pain Center with providing him with the tools to do it.
Bryce recently paid a visit to the Pain Center to see his team and to share that he’s off all pain medication. In the video above, Bryce and Dr. Hudson explain how hard work has helped him live life to its fullest.
They also appeared on WOOD-TV’s “eightWest” to explain how the Pain Center uses a behavioral approach to pain management. Watch it here.
“Hope” was not a word in Bryce Baker’s vocabulary for a very long time. The 23-year-old suffered from debilitating nerve pain that nearly crushed his dream of playing professional baseball.
The 6’4” left-handed pitcher had trained tirelessly for years for the opportunity to showcase his talent on the mound and was well on his way.
In July 2013, he was pitching for a team in the South Florida Collegiate Baseball League when he felt a pop in his back. He was flown home, where he underwent two lumbar laminectomies within a month of each other, followed by months of subsequent physical therapy and sports rehabilitation.
Then he felt another pop.
He underwent surgery again, this time a spinal fusion, in September 2014. The pain still didn’t subside. Sleep escaped him, and simply walking brought him to tears. Prescription medication barely touched his pain, and he was convinced he would suffer for the rest of his life. But after he was referred to the Pain Center at Mary Free Bed, Bryce became hopeful.
“First I was scared of the pain, and then I hated it,” he said. “Now it motivates me. On my first day at Mary Free Bed, I found hope again. It became my new safe haven.”
Bryce received physical and occupational therapy, psychology and physician care in the center’s outpatient program for several months and learned to manage his pain. His “best day” was the one when his therapist said to bring his glove to their next session so they could play catch.
“I still battle pain, but the good days have begun outweighing the bad and I’ve learned to embrace my pain,” Bryce said. “This program saved my life.”
Since he graduated from the Pain Center program, Bryce has been training at the Elite Softball and Baseball facility in Wyoming. He played for the Redding Colt 45s last summer and was picked up by the Marysville Gold Sox to play this summer. Both are California-based collegiate baseball teams.
“I hope to get signed by a pro organization after the summer,” said Bryce, who credits his Pain Center team with helping his dream of playing professional baseball once again become a possibility. “They were hand-picked by God to be the ones who fought tirelessly day and night for me to get my life back.”
Originally published Dec. 2015