My story has been full of both nasty coincidence and serendipity. I’ve had a history of back problems, including a minor procedure a dozen years ago, but had been noting further deterioration and weakness over the last few years. It hadn't limited most of my activities, but I had stopped helping my band-mates haul the heavier equipment at gigs -- I guess it served as a good excuse.
At the time I was living in a fairly remote desert community in California that is not well-served by specialists, such as those found at VSI. In late 2014, however, I accepted an offer to work a two-year detail in the DC area. My wife and I started making the arrangements to move and my back was definitely feeling the stress. During the cross-country trip in March 2015, I triggered a more acute back problem; I awoke one morning in my dad’s house in the Ozarks hardly able to walk. The only way I could make it across a room was to walk severely hunched over. The pain was especially bad down the right leg. It was no longer a matter of babying my back as best I could; I was now unable to function at all, and I was to report within a week to a new position with new bosses. Not the impression I was hoping to make.
The little Ozark community we were in was unable to provide anything but painkillers and a recommendation that we proceed to DC and find a specialist. So with my wife now shouldering virtually all of the packing/unpacking and driving duties, we finished our cross-country. During the drive, I began researching neurosurgeons in the DC area by reputation and specialty. Virginia Spine Institute stood out. But I also knew that immediate availability was key for me; I could not wait for weeks to see someone, owing both to my level of pain and also my need to start my new position ASAP. VSI’s response on the phone was professional and re-assuring.
i was able to get an appointment immediately after our planned arrival.
Dr. Good and his staff were, and remain, incredibly professional and understanding of my situation. He proceeded with the diagnostics required, but my own sense was that I had really messed my back up good this time, and it wouldn’t be an easy road back. By now, my legs, especially the right leg, had weakened and become numb. Wisely, and with my blessing, Dr. Good proceeded with a path of therapy and a caudal injection, believing that I might be able to forestall surgery for a while. But he was also honest and refreshingly clear with me: my problems were both congenital (narrow spinal opening and scoliosis) and evolving (deteriorated discs in the lumbar region), and the chances of me requiring surgery to fix it correctly were at least 50%.
We gave the injection time to work, and it did help some, but I was convinced that I could not, nor would I want to, proceed through the new job and the rest of life limited as to how much walking I could do, and how much I could contribute at home and elsewhere. During the ensuing candid conversations between Dr. Good, my wife, and me, we concluded that surgery was required. No question that the surgeries required to fuse two vertebrae and my sacrum were difficult, but the debilitating pain is gone and was gone immediately after surgery! And Dr. Good’s prediction of six weeks recovery before I could consider reporting to work was spot-on.
With subsequent physical therapy, exercise, and prescriptions (that I’m now off of completely!), my recovery is mostly complete. Dr. Good and I are hoping for additional recovery of the nerves in my right leg to support continued strengthening. I’ve regained most of my mobility and especially my ability to engage in routine activities around the house. I’m once again able to plan and enjoy adventures with my wife, and explore this part of the country while our detail continues. One activity that I’d like to re-start – motorcycling – will have to wait until we get back to CA next year, but I believe that my strength, balance, and stability have recovered to the point that I can consider it again, which is a big deal to me!
The advice and care of Dr. Good and his staff have been accurate, clear, and caring for me and my wife in a unique situation. As I told him at our one-year post-surgery visit, had this injury happened in CA, we would have had to drive at least 2 ½ hours to get close to the level of care that we got from him and his staff. That’s the serendipity of suffering this injury as we were headed to DC anyway, and I’m very grateful to VSI, Dr. Good, and staff for taking my case on both quickly and successfully.
Thank you to my team!
- Dr. Good - Spinal Specialist