Getting Back in the Game After Spinal Surgery
Peter Schultz of Calverton never wanted to slow down, but debilitating back pain was a game changer for this formerAir Force linguist, two-time NYC marathon runner, church deacon, avid golfer and local volunteer.
“Six years ago I was up in Vermont for a week and went snowshoeing. We did a rather difficult trail and when we got home I had this funny feeling in my back and down my leg. I didn’t realize how badly I’d hurt myself and I think I just exacerbated a preexisting problem and it just started to get worse from that point on.”
After five years of epidural injections for his spinal stenosis and sciatic nerve pain, Mr. Schultz, 72, learned that he needed surgery. “The sciatic pain down my leg was unbearable… I went to see Dr. Rana after he was recommendedto me and I decided to have the surgery done at Mather,” he said.
Rasel Rana, DO, orthopedic surgeon, performed Mr. Schultz’s laminectomy at Mather Hospital in February 2016.
A laminectomy creates space by removing the lamina, or the back part of the vertebra that covers the spinal canal, thereby enlarging the spinal canal to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. “We were able to decompress and take pressure off of his nerves without fusion,” Dr. Rana said.
Schultz was in the hospital for six days. On the third day, he was up and walking around. “I really did not experience that much pain after the procedure…and it was all made easier by my wonderful nurse Agnes on 3 North who took care of me like I was a member of her own family,” he said. “I’ll never forget her.”
Before the surgery, Mr. Schultz could not participate in activities he nor- mally enjoyed and was even having trouble walking. “The surgery has helped him to return to the activities he enjoys, including golf,” said Dr. Rana. A year after the surgery, Mr. Schultz has made a full recovery.
“Now everything is great! I wear my Fitbit™ every day and walked my 10,000 steps yesterday with no problem. I even bought a new set of golf clubs for when I go back to playing in the spring,” he said. “I can do everything now!”
Karlie Linda Michaels, an artist from East Patchogue, also suffered with severe back pain from degenerative and herniated spinal disks for years. “I tried everything from pain management to physical therapy… pretty much everything short of surgery,” said Ms. Michaels, 56. “The pain was so bad that I was getting to the point where I was going to have to carry a morphine pump around with me if I didn’t do something drastic. That’s when I decided on surgery,” she said.
Dr. Leon performed Michael’s surgery – a lumbar laminectomy and fusion, at Mather in 2015. “Ms. Michaels had a condition known as spondylolisthesis meaning ‘slipped vertebra’. She underwent lumbar laminectomy and fusion which relieves any pressure on the nerves and also immobilizes the vertebra through bone healing or fusion and stabilization with titanium screws and rods,” said Dr. Leon. “Mather Hospital is my hospital of choice. I got excellent care and the nurses were wonderful,” Ms. Michaels said.
“I was extremely happy with Ms. Michael’s outcome as she had marked improvement in all of her symptoms,” Dr. Leon said. Looking to the future, Ms. Michaels is planning to focus on her artwork and hopes to get back to kayaking.
“My pain level is nil. Overall I feel great… it’s such a big difference.”