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Susan Evans – Spine Surgery

Physician – Dr. Carlson
I am Susan Evans from Williamsburg, VA. I was 55 years old when I had my spinal decompression and fusion of discs L4 and L5, performed by surgeon Jeffrey Carlson. My recovery has been nothing short of stunning.

On March 31, 2011, I fell while out of town. Looking up from the carpet of the corporate conference room wondering how I got there was frightening. I had never fallen like that and had no idea why my left leg and foot suddenly were numb, and my foot no longer seemed to get the message it was time to perform walking-related tasks. The foot simply flopped when my leg moved forward and back, seeming to stick to the floor rather than move up and down like usual. Walking across a room was difficult; walking to the mailbox was impossible. Since my husband had seen Dr. Carlson a year before for a similar issue I called and made an appointment for myself. That was a Thursday afternoon. On Friday I saw Dr. Carlson. He diagnosed a congenital spinal defect that required surgical intervention to prevent permanent damage. I had mounting pressure on the nerves to my left leg. If not relieved the “drop foot” would become permanent. The following Monday morning I was wheeled into surgery.

After surgery Dr. Carlson told me the surgery was a success, but I may or may not experience full return of the strength and functionality to my left leg and foot. “Time would tell”, he said.

After a 3 week recovery I entered physical therapy to rebuild strength and function. Core work, they said, was the secret to rebuilding the strength in my leg. I trusted their plan and worked diligently at the exercises the physical therapists prescribed. For 8 weeks I went 2 to 3 days per week and walked 3+ miles a day. I was released from PT in July, 2011.

When I was released from PT I had regained approximately 90% of my strength and flexibility; and I had regained complete control over my left foot. Since then, I have continued to use the exercises they taught me in PT and others I learned while becoming a certified personal trainer to exceed my previous levels of strength, flexibility and endurance. Today I am a triathlete – I swim, I bike, and I run – with no physical impairment from my back surgery and only mild discomfort and stiffness at the surgical site, mostly on rainy days.

Of course everyone will not experience the same results that I have, but Dr. Carlson’s talent and my determination to recover set me on a path to a dramatic recovery and a lifetime of continued mobility.

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