Karen Wilson – Spine Surgery

Karen L. Wilson – Age 74

My Surgical Journey began with the words “Don’t worry; I’ll take good care of you.”

During the spring of 2013, I opened my newspaper and saw this tall doctor who brought a new method of spinal surgery to the area. Determined to keep this article for future reference, I kept it on my kitchen wall until December 2013.

When I made my appointment in December, it was only for a second opinion, confirming what my first Doctor said, about cervical spinal stenosis. At this point, I’ll say “Be careful of what you ask.” 

Well, I met Dr. Carlson and I was impressed with his sense of humor. However, this did not set the tone for what I was about to hear. To my utter dismay, Dr. Carlson patiently explained the seriousness of what he saw in my MRI and that I needed surgery like “yesterday”. After he explained the danger of falling or being in a car accident which could cause paralysis, I know from having problems with my left arm that I would reluctantly have to agree with him!

Needless to say, tears welled up, as Dr. Carlson explained the six weeks recovery period, and how I should proceed in scheduling surgery. Before he left the office, he looked at me and genuinely said, “don’t worry, I’m going to take good care of you.” Well, I did not realize the significance of this statement until the end of my surgical journey!

My journey was just beginning! I scheduled my surgery for January 13, 2014. On that Monday morning, I had been prepped and taken to the pre-op room. Dr. Carlson walked in, looked at me and said that he remembered me. I was relieved, but surprised, since he has seen many patients since he saw me in December. Then he shocked me by telling me that he had to shave the back of my head, but it would grow back. I was skeptical because I inherited alopecia, but more upset because I had just spent $50.00 on a hair-do that would last through surgery and recovery. However, some hair did grow back!!

Reassurances continued!! When Dr. Carlson came to my room on the second day after surgery, I told him about the pain and spasms, and he told me that it would get better but not how or when. On the 3rd day he noticed, that because of the pain, I was not moving around, so he inquired about my home caretakers! When I told him about by sister and son who worked, he told me to consider a rehab facility because he could not send me home with no one to take care of me. On the fourth day, he had a social worker to work with me for a transfer to a facility for that evening.

Dr. Carlson promised to take care of me and he followed through! Yes! Everything did get better, but Dr. Carlson was not finished!!

In 2 ½ weeks, I returned to his office and I was in a wheel chair. After noticing my progress, Dr. Carlson sincerely informed me that he wanted me out of that wheel chair. When I returned to Rehab, my therapist did not know why I was so motivated to stand up and use my walker. When I told her what my Doctor said, she quietly told me that the Rehab Center does not send people home in a wheel chair if people are capable of walking. With this information, I realized that my doctor was still taking good care of me. By the end of the next week, I was using my walker and on my way home!!

On February 3rd, I finally came home, where I had in-home nursing care, which was arranged for me by Dr. Carlson before I ever had surgery. From Feb. 3rd – 21st, a nurse and therapist came to my home every other day and they were excellent!

When I returned to Dr. Carlson six weeks later on February 25th, he removed my neck brace and told me to continue wearing my neck stimulator four hours a day until April. Moreover, I was no longer in a wheel chair or using a walker. At the end of my office visit, Dr. Carlson continued to keep his word that he would take good care of me. He recommended me for therapy, after we discussed my left arm and the muscles in my neck!

Dr. Carlson and OSC’s new therapy center is so conductive to continuous healing. The colorful rooms, the beautiful art of the bones in the body, the comfort of the chairs and equipment make doing therapy a pleasure! Of course, I cannot say enough about the front office staff, the therapist and the technicians. They are absolutely professional, pleasant, personable, and eager to help us accomplish our goals! The music and the atmosphere in the center put the icing on the cake.

One might think that Doctors take care of their patients! I say, to a certain extent. I have had at least eight surgeries, most of them major! I have never had a Doctor tell me that he was going to take good care of me and follow through step by step for twelve weeks! Doctors often assume that people have someone to take care of them and just send them home!

Regardless of the reason, I think God for blessing me with an excellent doctor and I thank Dr. Carlson for taking such good care of me, and especially for sending flowers to my room after surgery. 

I can truthfully say that I have not regretted having to travel this twelve week journey.