At the age of 27, I was loving life and was in the best physical shape I had ever been in. Life was great, until I woke up one day in so much pain that I had to be taken to the ER. Little did I know that this would be the first of many ER visits and months of misdiagnosis by various types of doctors. After multiple trips to the ER, CT scans, x-rays, and three MRIs, I was told that I had problem with two discs in my lower spine.
Determined to find some type of relief for the excruciating pain, I went to a spine and pain management doctor where I had injections. That didn’t work for me, they only left me in more pain and I never got a full explanation about what the problem was. I was offered pain pills but did not like that option, especially with having allergies to a lot of medications. I was beyond miserable. I cried from the pain every day as I tried to push myself to go to work. I would come home exhausted, miserable and in massive pain. Finally, I got to the point of being in such a massive amount of pain that I could no longer go to work and had to take a leave of absence. I decided to take one last shot at finding help and I found Virginia Spine Institute and Dr. Schuler.
From the first phone call with a compassionate receptionist who got me in quickly, I knew this was going to be different. The first time I met with Dr. Schuler and his amazing team, I began to learn about exactly what was wrong with my spine; a degenerated and bulging disc at L5-S1 and a tear in my L4-L5 disc. Dr. Schuler took the time to explain in depth exactly what was causing my pain. He answered my questions and had no problem re-explaining what I didn’t fully understand. He discussed different treatment options with me and emphasized that the treatment plan’s goal was to give me the best quality of life that he could. He immediately got me set up with my physical therapy team at Virginia Therapy & Fitness Center to begin working on reducing the amount of debilitating pain I was in.
I made my first month of appointments and got to work. My muscles and core were weak from months of doing nothing, but the plan was in place and physical therapy was helping. I followed the PT plan; I did my exercises at home, went to every appointment with a can-do attitude and worked hard. After a year in PT I still had pain. It had gone from a constant 8.5-10 down to a 4/5 which was good; not pain free, but so much better! In a follow up visit with Dr. Schuler, he told me that with my progress I could be a candidate for stem cell therapy. Again, he explained in detail what would be done and answered my many questions. He strongly felt that this procedure could help eliminate the pain. It was December at the time and I remember thinking to myself 'being closer to pain free would be a great way to start 2017'. I made the decision that day to get the stem cell therapy and asked if we could do the procedure before the end of the year. The VSI team was able to get it all set up and I was ready to live again!
Within the first month post stem cell therapy procedure I was starting to feel less pain and was moving around better. The pain steadily decreased and my mobility steadily increased. I started to have bigger gaps between PT appointments -- one week, two weeks, one month! By May I was able to start hiking again; the first time out I went four hours and my feet hurt more than my back. Seven months post stem cell therapy, I am able to go hiking with no pain. I can dance. I can shop. I can play with my dog. I can ride in the car for more than an hour. I’m happy and fully living my life again!
Thank you Dr. Schuler and your amazing team at VSI for all that you have done to help me get my life back!
Thank you to my team!
- Dr. Schuler - Spinal Specialist