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John Johnson – Lumbar Fusion Surgery for Spinal Stenosis

I am currently a very healthy and still somewhat athletic seventy-two year old male. All my life, from high school until today, I have been physically active in some kind of sport or work out type exercising. In the past I have played football, wrestling, baseball, and long distance running. I have been a utility lineman, which requires extreme lower and upper body strength to climb poles. I was, before spinal issues, and currently am, a barbell strength lifter, which basically entails progressively lifting heavy weights at low (4-6) repetitions.

In 1993, I initially developed left side sciatica that manifested itself as pain and tingling down my left leg. The time period of several years immediately preceding this sciatica issue, I was doing a lot of long distance running, prepping for some half-marathons. This episode led to a surgery to repair a herniated L4-L5 disk, and all was well after that, but my long distance running, at my choice, pretty much ended. I then took up lifting weights off and on until today.

I began serious barbell strength training in 2015, which is very late for a man my age, but doable if the lifts are done correctly. Weight lifting is inherently unsafe, but lots of fun for those of us that choose to do it. I was also doing some short jogging runs along with that, although I shouldn’t have combined the two, simply because there is not enough muscular stress recovery time between the two activities. Some things you learn the hard way.

In the spring of 2016, I had shoulder surgery by Dr. Martin Coleman at OSC, due to an injury as a result of heavy bench pressing. Dr. Coleman gave me Percocet-oral for post-op pain, but I didn’t need it. I followed his post-op physical instructions and I healed very quickly, as far as normal shoulder use. It was a several months before I could lift heavy weights again using my shoulder. A year later and my shoulder is lifting heavy weights again. I was very happy with Dr. Coleman and the entire OSC staff.

While recuperating from the shoulder surgery, I was not lifting at all, so I started doing variable distance wind sprints from 10 yards up to 100 yards for cardiovascular training. This worked very well as far as great weight control and cardio endurance. A couple of months after shoulder surgery, I was back to heavy lifting (lower body only) again, except for presses that involved my shoulder. I was beginning to notice my glute area muscles were chronically burning, not during, but after my workouts. I thought that it was from doing heavy barbell squats requiring a quick push back and up from the hips coming up out of the bottom of the squat. Or, I wondered, if it was because of the wind sprints causing chronic glute inflammation. This went on for many months, I just dealt with it, and I then began feeling sciatica symptoms again.

By then, and because of Dr. Coleman, I was sold on the OSC doctors and I had decided to go see Dr. Jeffrey Carlson, since this was a lower body spinal issue. I had also started taking 1000 mg of Tylenol alternating every six hours with 1000mg of Ibuprofen for the pain. This worked pretty well, but I knew I couldn’t do that long term. I also had to find a comfortable sleeping position.

I knew as soon as I spoke to Dr. Carlson that he had my best lifestyle, physical and emotional health interests at heart. Dr. Carlson ordered x-rays of my lumbar area the first visit. They looked bad enough, and the subsequent MRI looked horrible to me. I had lumbar spinal stenosis in at least four different places and I don’t know how I was even walking, much less lifting heavy weights. It’s amazing what the human body can do even when it is broken down. Dr. Carlson was honest and to the point – we could try pain management or surgery. The surgery would require a complete lumbar L2-S1 fusion, and he was very encouraging that if I followed his instructions completely that I would heal properly and would be able to resume everything, including heavy weight lifting, that I wanted to do. I told him that I did not want to just manage the pain, I wanted my lower back fixed. I agreed to the surgery, which was done on 27 March 2017.

Before the surgery, Dr. Carlson and I established a post-op pain level management plan. I rated a pain tolerance level between 0-10 that I felt that I could tolerate. The surgery was extensive, I stayed one night at the hospital with a self administered pain IV, and went home the next day. Before he discharged me, he was going to give me percocet to take home, but I told him that didn\’t work well for me based upon past experience. He asked me how the IV was working and I told him very well. He prescribed the same as the IV medication, except oral pill form. It worked extremely well, plus I slept well at night.

After the surgery, I immediately noticed that I no longer had any pain and tingling in my legs and feet. The only source of pain was in the area of the incision which was about eleven inches, covering my entire lumbar spine area. After about two weeks, the pain was to a level that I no longer needed any pain medication at all. At less than three weeks, I was driving again.

I also went to OSC Physical Therapy for three weeks and Dr. Amanda Jetty and her PT assistants are excellent as well. As of today’s date, 28 June 2017, I have already been back in the gym for several weeks and back to lifting fairly heavy weights again and steadily progressing in my strength. My life is back to normal and completely pain free.

As a result of my experiences with Dr. Coleman, Dr. Carlson and the entire OSC staff, I will continue to use their services for all of my spine and orthopedic issues and will recommend them to anyone seeking care within the entire realm of their services. Everyone, including the non-medical staff, which works in that practice has your best, pain-free health as their goal. I already have recommended Dr. Coleman and Dr. Carlson to several people whom I think could benefit from their medical expertise and services.

John Johnson

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