Shirley Christian – Spine Surgery

Hello, let me introduce myself. I am a 64 year old woman, who has suffered with a bad, bad back for almost fifty years, since I fell down icy steps, selling tickets for my home church, up in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. At the time, I was rushed by ambulance over eighty miles to a very large study facility, because I had limited use in my legs and was in severe pain. After extensive therapy and years of wearing a back brace, I still used a cane to help with maneuverability. However, I lived with pain, especially whenever there was inclement weather or when I tied to do anything beyond my capabilities, which I can tell you , were very limited. All through high school and college, I had to sit on the sidelines and watch, instead of participating, because of my back. I had been advised by numerous doctors to have back surgery, but I had heard so many “horror” stories from people about the results from their surgeries, and how they were left as “cripples” after surgery, that I swore that I would NEVER have back surgery. At least I could walk, if in pain, and wasn’t in a wheelchair.

Well, all that changed in May of 2013. I thought I had gone through it all with terminal cancer, which I somehow survived, but now, all of a sudden, I could not take more than two steps without excruciating pain in my left side. I had to sit, even when I was in pain and every day it got worse. I has all types of tests done, since my doctors considered it an after-effect of the cancer and the radiation and chemo. This went on for months, until my Oncologist suggested that, because I had a bad back, maybe these symptoms were coming from that, and he referred me to Dr. Jeffrey Carlson at the Orthopaedic and Spine Center. When I visited with the doctor, he immediately had an MRI done, plus X-rays and other tests and he evaluated me. What he told me shocked me. He said that if I didn’t have surgery done, I would be in a wheelchair by the end of the year. (I had to be brought into the visit in a wheelchair by my grandson, because I couldn’t walk the distance from the front door to the examining room).

I was now faced with the most important decision of my life. I asked him if there were any alternatives. He said we could try epidurals, that is needles with medicine inserted, in my case, in both sides of the spine, to relieve pressure on the spine. However, this did not relieve the pain and doctor stressed the fact that surgery was necessary. At this point, I felt I had no choice, and, against my better judgment, I agreed to go ahead with the surgery. I cried every day until my day of surgery, December 12th. My companion, Tom, is very critical of doctors, since an accident at birth has left him with a physical disability for life, but the bedside manner of Dr. Carlson has greatly impressed him.

Doctor came to see me prior to the surgery and we talked and he gently set my mind at ease (as much as could be done for someone babbling like a brook). His confidence instills a feeling of faith in those around him. Well, as I write this, four months later, I am so very glad I had that surgery done! I have had NO more pain in my side, which by the way was coming from my hip, my back feels wonderful, not too bad even during bad weather, not like before when I had to curl up in a ball with a heating pad and pray for good weather), and thank God, no wheelchair! The way I figure it, I was just waiting for the right doctor to do the surgery. I would recommend he and his office to anyone looking for a reputable and caring facility. I am a living example of his expertise and care. Plus, everyone on his staff is always there to answer any question you may have, whether on the phone or in the office. They all made a very anxious time into a smooth, well-coordinated experience.