Still Going Strong 13 Years after Successful Back Surgery
Around 1982, I injured my lower back while moving heavy furniture. For the next 23 years the same part of my lower back continued to be periodically susceptible to debilitating re-injuries and frequent pain, but I always managed to get back on my feet with the help of anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy.
Then in the Spring of 2005, I re-injured it yet again, this time much worse than previously. Within a very few days, I regressed from using a cane, to crutches, to a walker, to being bed-ridden. Diagnostic imaging experts at the Orthopaedic and Spine Center determined that my pain and paralysis were being caused by a severely herniated disc which was pressing against my spinal cord. They assured me that surgical intervention was only considered for cases that could not be successfully treated by non-invasive means, such as anti-inflammatory medications or physical therapy, and they scheduled me for immediate surgery to stop the condition from worsening, and to correct the problem. The surgery was skillfully and meticulously performed by Dr. Jeffery Carlson through a small incision, and the moment I woke up in the recovery room I was free of pain and fully mobile.
In the 13 years since the surgery was performed, my back has remained strong and free of pain. In spite of returning to some very challenging and strenuous activities, which include mountain climbing, lumber-jacking and heavy construction, I have had no recurrences of the back injury. Below, I have inserted an exact copy of the message I sent to a friend in 2013 (8 years after the surgery), in response to my friend’s inquiry about the long-term outcome of my 2005 back surgery:
Thanks for asking about my back surgery. It continues to be a total success; there has not been any recurrence of pain or immobility since the surgery fixed the problem on March 25, 2005. The orthopedic surgeon’s name who gave me such excellent help when it was urgently needed is Jeffrey Carlson. Since that back surgery, Dr. Carlson has also repaired some damage to my right shoulder, fixed some mysterious condition that had caused fluid to build suddenly on my left knee, and later he put my broken left knee-cap back together in an unrelated event. (If you ever want to know the definition of real pain, women will tell you it is childbirth, but I suspect that probably only applies to those who have not also broken a kneecap.)
Anyway, none of those other repairs have required any surgery; Dr. Carlson says he only resorts to surgery when another treatment won’t cure the injury. About a year ago [i.e., around 2012], I read in the paper that Dr. Carlson has now become the Chief of Surgery for Mary Immaculate Hospital. I haven’t been hurt since his appointment to that post went into effect, so I am not sure whether he still does bone and joint work with his own hands. [Yes, he does.] But he’d be the first person with whom I would inquire if I ever get hurt again; the man is brilliant, pragmatic, compassionate, and competent.
W. Anthony Starkey