Mary’s Spinal Fusion Success Story


“I forget I even had surgery; I feel so normal.”

This is Mary Miller. Six years out from her spinal fusion surgical procedure at UVA Health, she says she couldn’t be happier together with her selection. “I’m still pain-free, and I can do any activity I want,” she shares. “I forget I even had surgery; I feel so normal.”

Mary had suffered from a herniated disc, a painful backbone situation. She confronted the identical troublesome resolution many individuals face: Should she have backbone surgical procedure? And the place ought to she go for care?

When Surgery Makes Sense

Mary needed to do one thing. A nurse for UVA Continuum Home Health, ache made caring for her sufferers troublesome. She had to surrender yoga, which she liked. The each day ache left her feeling depressed.

Still, Mary frightened in regards to the restoration time after surgical procedure. Thankfully, her backbone surgeon, Chun-Po Yen, MD, used a minimally invasive approach. This helped Mary get well quicker with much less ache. She was in a position to get again to her regular life prior to she anticipated.

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Have Back Pain? Mary’s Advice

Mary shares her recommendation for others contemplating backbone surgical procedure: “Don’t give up and don’t wait,” she says. “I thought surgery wasn’t worth it and I lived with pain for years. But the technology and expertise is so advanced. I got great care at UVA Health throughout my whole experience.”

Read this put up Mary shared in 2019 about her spinal fusion at UVA Health.

One day in 2007, my again began aching for no obvious purpose. Within 24 hours I had capturing, searing ache down my proper leg. My main care physician stated I more than likely had a herniated disc and would wish surgical procedure. But I used to be afraid there could be issues, or the surgical procedure wouldn’t repair my again ache. I made a decision to robust it out. The ache finally acquired higher however by no means actually went away. I continued to have numbness in my leg and foot.

In 2014, I had one other large episode and once more in 2017. The final time, the ache was fixed and there was nothing I may do to make it higher, together with ache drugs. I used to be on the level the place I couldn’t bend over and choose issues up off the ground. I couldn’t get garments out of the dryer.

As a Continuum liaison nurse, I used to be attempting onerous to not let my sufferers realize it harm once I was leaning over to look after them. I liked yoga, however generally it harm so badly I couldn’t stand up off the ground. It harm to show over in mattress, and getting up within the morning was torture. I think about myself a reasonably optimistic particular person, however the continual ache was making me very depressed.

Over the years, I attempted bodily remedy, neurostimulation, and finally, a chiropractor. Unfortunately, that made the ache worse. My chiropractor felt I wanted additional imaging and ordered an MRI. After seeing that the imaging confirmed I had a big herniation, she recommended I see a backbone specialist.

Getting Support From UVA Spine Center

From the second I contacted Nicole Gibson, senior medical workplace coordinator, each single particular person I encountered was pleasant and attentive to my distinctive wants and difficult work schedule.

Nicole promptly responded to all my cellphone calls and MyChart messages. She even scheduled the wanted exams and appointments round my work hours.

Nicole additionally made positive all of this might be completed in calendar 12 months 2017, as I requested, because of adjustments coming to my insurance coverage in 2018.

I expressed to neurosurgeon Chun-Po Yen, MD, my need to get again to work as shortly as potential, and he recommended a modified, minimally invasive method to my L5/S1 fusion surgical procedure. This was out of the norm and harder for him however significantly diminished my restoration time.

This allowed me to return to work quicker than most sufferers who obtain a spinal fusion with a spacer. A spacer is a international object a surgeon locations to carry the vertebrae aside so the nerves should not compressed by the ruptured disc.

Lara Myers, NP, taught me what to anticipate throughout and after my surgical procedure. It was very reassuring figuring out I may attain out to her at any time.

My Uneventful Surgery Adventure

Every encounter in preparation for my surgical procedure was easy and thorough, and I felt assured main as much as my December 1, 2017 operation. On the day of surgical procedure, the workers was informative and guarded my confidentiality. I additionally felt they have been genuinely involved for what I used to be going by. My husband was pleasantly stunned at how usually the workers up to date him on my standing all through the day.

I awoke on 6 West, and so they handled me like a queen. I used to be so impressed with the brand new mattress and its fancy USB port and the consolation measures, like a watch shade and headset.

My ache was managed very properly — the nurses knew higher than I how you can keep away from extreme post-op ache. They walked me by each facet of my hospital restoration and checked on me steadily. I not often had to make use of the decision bell. I additionally actually appreciated the assistance I obtained from occupational therapist Erica Umback and bodily therapist Chad Aldridge, who taught me how you can do my each day actions and stretches with out additional injuring my backbone. Even the meals was good and scorching!

Back to Life & Pain Free

I returned to work on December 26, 2017. Now I really feel like a brand new particular person! I now not have a limp and may train and transfer. I’m lastly having fun with life once more! I’ve gotten again to all of the issues I had given up for the final couple years, like working within the backyard and lifting heavy issues. Sometimes I even overlook I had a nasty again.

If I speak to somebody who’s experiencing continual again ache, I inform them to go see Dr. Yen on the UVA Spine Center. I additionally inform them to not be afraid, like I used to be. The nurses, medical doctors, and whole UVA staff actually cares in regards to the affected person’s expertise. They will do every thing potential to satisfy their each want.


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