Derrek is a patient of mine who has left a lasting impression – he recently ran his first half marathon after having a 2 level spinal fusion (see his xray to the left). He is a great example of patients who become more physically active after a spinal fusion than they were before, which is a common experience in our practice.
Derrek’s back pain began eleven years before his surgery, when one day he woke up with terrible pain in his back. Over the course of the eleven years, after all else failed, his condition deteriorated to the point where he considered surgery.
Failing to get the answers he was looking for after speaking to a doctor specializing in psychosomatic symptoms, Derrek came to my office. Here’s what he had to say about his experience:
“Dr. McCance really did a great job explaining everything to me and my wife. He told us that surgery is what needs to happen now, or something much worse will happen later.
“What I’m most impressed by is that Dr. McCance even explained the differences between psychosomatic therapy and surgery to my wife. He answered all of our questions and gave us two solid options.”
Derrek’s options were to have a discectomy and laminectomy first to see if that would help the pain, with the understanding that a spinal fusion would be necessary after that if he failed the less invasive procedure. After discussing the options, he chose the smaller surgery, which is a common and understandable choice for many patients, although not always the best choice.
After surgery, Derrek enjoyed a period of time where he was pain free, but the symptoms gradually returned to the point where he needed to consider the more invasive fusion.
“Dr. McCance made me 100 percent comfortable in choosing my treatment plan. I knew there was a chance I would need a second surgery. In the end, after a six-month recovery period, I was completely pain-free.
“He and his office staff were there for me the whole time. They knew my name when I came in for my appointments and made sure to check in with me each month, then eventually at longer intervals.”
After the fusion and the recovery phase, Derrek finally became pain free. But his real triuimph is what he did next:
“I was working out one day with those little old lady hand weights, took a look at the treadmill and thought, why not? I wanted to try it out. I told myself that if my back began to hurt I would stop. But it didn’t. I was able to run just over one mile, then next time I ran three, and then more and more. I ended up starting to run outside in Central Park and my mom told me she would come watch if I was able to run a half -marathon…so I did.”
Derrek ran the New York Road Runners (NYRR) Staten Island Half Marathon on October 12, 2014, with a time of 2:10:26. Since then, he has completed the 9+1 program, which guarantees entry into the next year’s NYC Marathon by running nine races and volunteering at one. Derrek’s next race is the Brooklyn Half and he’s on his way toward a second 9+1.
Way to go, Derrek! Your progress and achievements have been awesome, and I am very happy for you.
If you have a similar experience you’d like to share, contact us on our Facebook page today. I would love to hear from you!