Barbara Talhelm – Lumbar Spine Fusion Surgery

Image of Barbara T.I was referred to OSC, Dr. Jeffrey Carlson, by my mother and father.  My father had to have a full back fusion about 2 years ago and he was referred to Dr. Carlson.  Let me say that at first, I did not listen to my mother, (boy, if I had a dollar for every time I should have listened to her) which was yet again the wrong thing to do. I hate when she is right!

My issues started in January of 2017, with what I thought was just a pulled muscle and hip pain.  I was having trouble standing or sitting for long periods of time.  I would move around a lot and my back pain started to get worse.  I live in the Chesapeake area, and was not going to drive to Newport News for a doctor’s appointment with the traffic the way it is.  Besides. I thought it was just a pulled muscle and my primary care doctor was just being over-dramatic by sending me to an orthopedic doctor.

As I said before,  I went to an orthopedic in my area, I didn’t listen to my mother.  I was told, after x-rays, that I have bursitis and was given a shot that did absolutely nothing.  I was then seen by another orthopedic in my area, referred by a friend that swore by this doctor.  With more x-rays, I was told I needs physical therapy and that I have sciatic nerve pain.  Not once was I shown my x-rays, even after asking to see them.  I, of course, went to physical therapy which at the time actually made my pain worse.

The physical therapist I was seeing at the time stated that I may need to have an MRI done, as my pain was not getting any better and there maybe something worse going on.  I agreed with her and called the doctor’s office to ask for an MRI before I come back so that they have something to review with me.  I was told no, I needed to make an appointment to see the doctor so he can order the MRI.

NOW, let me stop for one second and explain that I work in the medical field and I deal with patients calling me all the time to see if we can order an ultrasound, or blood work, etc. to be done for issues we are already seeing them for, so that when they come into see the doctor they have something to discuss and possibly see about fixing the problem or getting different treatment. An appointment is not always needed if there are no new issues.  Most of the time things can be ordered before a follow-up appointment.

That was the point I had had enough and finally was going to listen to my mother, who told me to come see Dr. Jeffrey Carlson from the beginning.

I saw Dr. Jeffery Carlson in October 2017.  10 months I had been dealing with the pain, not sleeping, not being able to stand or sit for long periods (which on some days standing is all I do at work when you are assisting with surgeries).  The pain got to be so bad that it would wake me up in the middle of the night when I tried to roll over, I couldn’t tie my shoes anymore without help.  Needless to say at 45,  I am no spring chicken, but I am still very active and love my job and life.  So before my appointment with Dr. Carlson, I had my regular doctor order my MRI so that I could go to Dr. Carlson with all my ducks in a row (I did find out I didn’t have to do that, as they have an MRI facility at their office).

When I got to the office, with my mother by my side, telling the girls that “I finally came here as Dr. Jeffrey Carlson did my husband’s surgery 2 years ago, etc.” My mother is a talker and will explain our lives to you if you listen, but I love her more than anything.  I didn’t wait long before I was called back to have some x-rays done before my appointment.  So the day I went for my first appointment, a nurse came out to the waiting room and explained that Dr. Carlson was the only doctor in that afternoon, and the office was running behind, we could wait or reschedule.  Well I thought great, I am not going to reschedule as I took off work to be there, plus I thought I would not get any answers as he would be in and out because he was behind.

When it was my time to be called back, I was placed in a room and when I finally met Dr. Jeffrey Carlson, first thing he did was pull up my x-rays that he just took and my MRI that I had brought so that I could see them.  I cried. I finally had someone who believed me about my pain and was willing to help me. He showed me the areas in my spine that were okay and normal then showed me the area I had been complaining about and said “see this area?” I said “yes”.  He said “you have bone on bone in your L4”, (I am sure he said it all ‘clinical-like’ and ‘doctor-like’).  Dr. Carlson sat with me and my mother talking about my issues and what was going to be the best option for me and that shocked me because he was running behind.  He was not in a rush, he answered all my questions, discussed my surgery with me when that is what we decided to do.

My surgery was on January 3, 2018, at Mary Immaculate Hospital, 1 year after my pain started (it was supposed to be in November, 2017, but I had a horrible chest cold, so it was postponed till after the holidays, my choice). I woke up after surgery with no pain.  I was amazed (I was sick from pain medication and anesthesia which happens every time I have surgery. I am allergic to all narcotics, it sucks to be me in pain).  I went home and rested for a couple of days, walking, when needed, with a walker for stability only, and of course, my OSC back brace, but I felt amazing.  I only took Tylenol, just in case, for the pain (which I didn’t have other than I could feel the staples in my back).

I went back to see Dr. Carlson 10 days after surgery for my 1st post-op appointment, once those staples were removed, I felt great.  I really had no issues.  I was told I could go back to work, with restrictions, of course, no lifting and keep wearing my brace.

Yesterday, February 15, 2018, I went to see Dr. Carlson for my 6 week post-op and I was told I was good, no more back brace was needed and I just need to do some physical therapy to strengthen the muscles in my back.

I have had no pain, honestly, since my surgery and I am sleeping at night, I am able to tie my own shoes, etc.  I am back to my old self.

I have told everyone about my experience and how I would highly recommend Dr. Jeffrey Carlson and his staff.  Not only is he caring and amazing at what he does, his staff is the same. Like I said, I work in the medical field and several of my patients have asked “who did you go to for your back?”, and EVERY TIME, EVERY TIME,  I hand them the OSC brochure and Dr. Jeffrey Carlson’s brochure I got from his waiting room and say “TRUST ME, driving to Newport News for a doctor’s appointment, even with crazy traffic and my work schedule, is so worth it!”

I know this is long, and probably too much detail (wow, I guess it’s true, I AM my mother.. ha ha ha), but my experience with OSC, Dr. Jeffrey Carlson, and his staff is just something I can’t even really explain well.  To feel no pain, all day, every day, after being in so much pain for so long it is, simply put, amazing.  I can’t Thank them enough for understanding and helping me…..

Thank you again,

Barbara Talhelm