116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Dancing has been Emily Benter’s passion even when she was a young girl, she relished in tap, jazz and ballet. As she got older, she moved on to poms and cheerleading once she was in high school and at Mount Mercy University. She enjoyed dancing even after graduation — the twists, turns and memorized steps — it was exciting until the ultimate twist: At 22 years old, the small plane Emily was aboard crashed and altered more than just her dancing from that point on.
Emily was in a four-person plane on her way to Chattanooga, Tenn., in 1998, but she, another passenger and the pilot did not make it to the airport. The plane ran out of gas 3 miles short of the runway.
“The pilot started talking to the tower,” Emily said. “I could hear everything since I was in the front, and the pilot told the guy in the tower that we weren’t going to get there; we were already too low. We had already been cleared to land anywhere at the airport, but we couldn’t get there.”
During 5 o’clock traffic, the pilot tried finding a safe place to land and aimed for a vacant lot in a residential area, but instead, when the plane crashed, it hit trees.
“One of our airplane wings came off and we landed on an air conditioning unit for an apartment, so luckily, the one wing came off, so we didn’t go into the apartment building,” Emily said.
Miraculously, everyone on the plane survived. Emily recalls not feeling hurt when she got out of the plane, but she needed stitches above her right eye, her cheek and on the right side of her nose. Her body was covered in bruises, but she didn’t start noticing trauma effects until a year later — bad headaches and neck pain.
For years, Emily went to her chiropractor regularly, but the relief didn’t last long. So, she turned to something different: She was referred to Mercy’s Interventional Pain Management Clinic and Mark Kline, MD.
The Pain Clinic provides procedures for patients dealing with back, neck and spine pain, in addition to pain caused by cancer and other chronic conditions. It features 15 exam rooms and two procedure rooms with state-of-the-art imaging equipment. Injections are administered and aided by ultrasound and X-ray technology to ensure each injection is precise based upon each patients’ imaging and symptoms.
Since 2016, Emily has come to the Pain Clinic at Mercy to relieve her headaches and neck pain. Instead of going to the doctor regularly, she only comes to the Pain Clinic once to twice a year for injections because the pain subsides for that long. Dr. Kline didn’t recommend Emily for surgery and said the injections were her best health plan option.
“Dr. Kline is super nice, super down to earth and makes me feel comfortable,” Emily said. “When I wake up, I don’t feel anything. You can’t tell where it [the injections] happened. Once I get them [the injections] done, I just feel so much better. My headaches go away, and there’s so much less tension and pain.”
Because of the injections, Emily was able and excited to accept an invitation to perform with the CR Spirits Professional Dance Team & Studio last year, where she danced professionally for nine years and taught ages 10 to 12 for several years. Emily quit dancing and teaching at CR Spirits in 2007 and hadn’t been in a dance group since.
“I stopped because I had just got married and we got pregnant shortly after, but I went to the tryouts and watched in labor,” Emily said, chuckling. “They were like, ‘Should you even be here?’ I said, ‘I’m fine; I think it’s fine.’ I just wanted to watch.”
Now, Emily works in the cafeteria at Harding Middle School, but she couldn’t turn down the chance to dance with her friends again when Tiffany Kuehl, the owner of CR Spirits, and Tiffany’s daughter, Crystal Barnett, asked her to be a part of their performance.
“Crystal works alongside her mom,” Emily said. “She works and breathes CR Spirits and dances and teaches the kids. She really wanted her mom to put on a big show, so they picked people who had previously been on the team, so they asked me to come back. When she asked me to come back, how could I not?”
The group of women involved in last year’s show were ages 19 to 53 and all of them worked hard to put on a great show while having fun. Through the many head rolls and steps, Emily was happy she received her injections for her headache and neck pain, so she was able to be involved in a show with women who share her love for dance.
Emily is now preparing for another show with CR Spirits that’s set to debut next year.
The Mercy Pain Clinic offers specialized pain treatments tailored to each individual patient. Patients with new pain or ongoing pain, are welcome to schedule at the Pain Clinic in search of relief. The Pain Clinic team is comprised of five anesthesiologists, who are double board certified in anesthesiology and pain management. The entire Pain Clinic team is dedicated to the treatment of patients suffering from chronic pain. If you’re in search of relief, you can schedule a time now that works for you by visiting mercycare.org/pain, or call (319) 398-6636 (choose option 4).