When Cathy Curl’s debilitating pain became so severe that she could hardly walk, she knew she had to take action.
“I had major pain. It got to the point that it hurt no matter what I did, including walking, sitting and sleeping. The pain was intense, and it was always there,” she said. “I’m single and I have to take care of myself, so I kept right on working, but it was a struggle.” As time went on, it became nearly impossible for Cathy to keep up with her two jobs and stay active enough to enjoy her son’s two boys who are 9 and 11 and live nearby.
Cathy initially thought her hip was the source of her pain. She had undergone hip repair surgery a few years prior, due to a fracture caused by osteoarthritis. While X-rays revealed her hip repair was intact, her doctor discovered deterioration in her spine and referred her to Sarah Bush Lincoln Neurosurgeon Emilio Nardone, MD.
Following an MRI, Dr. Nardone told Cathy that the cause of her back and leg pain and the numbness she experienced was a slippage of two vertebrae, also referred to as an unstable spine with compression of nerves. After exhausting non-invasive treatment options, Dr. Nardone recommended lumbar nerve decompression and fusion surgery.
Cathy appreciated the time Dr. Nardone took to explain the entire process to her. “He explained everything to me, even before I had the surgery, so I knew exactly what to expect,” she said.
Eager for relief, Cathy was confident and unafraid on the day of her surgery in June 2017. She is grateful to Dr. Nardone’s operating room staff for helping to lighten the mood before the procedure. “I had a blast joking around with them. They were absolutely fabulous,” she said.
During the surgery, Dr. Nardone relieved the pressure on the problematic nerves in Cathy’s lower back, and he fused a segment of her spine with screws and rods to increase stability and help prevent future compression.
An unstable spine can result from an injury, disease or the natural aging process. Fusing the vertebrae stabilizes and aligns the spine, maintains the normal disc space between the bones, and it prevents further damage to the spinal nerves and cord.
Cathy felt an immediate improvement after surgery, and she returned home after an overnight hospital stay. “I still had a little pain, but it was so much better than it was before,” she said. “My daughter came to stay with me after the surgery, but I was ready to take over all of the day-to-day chores after one week. Dr. Nardone is absolutely amazing. I cannot stress how grateful I am to him. I felt like a new person.”
Feeling restless during her recovery, Cathy decided to make an impromptu drive to her daughter’s home in the mountains of West Virginia just six weeks after her surgery. “I felt great, but I was getting restless just sitting around. My daughter lives 11 miles up a mountain and it’s beautiful there. It was a nice retreat,” she said.
Cathy was eager to go back to work when she arrived home, so she convinced Dr. Nardone to allow her return to her desk job a little early. Cathy is again working at both jobs, including one as a home health care worker, and she loves spending time with her two grandsons.
She is free from pain, and the results from the surgery have “more than exceeded” her expectations. “It’s so good to feel normal again,” she said. “I feel 100 percent better.”
To make an appointment with Dr. Nardone at SBL Neurosurgery, please ask your primary care provider for a referral, or for more information, call 217 238-4982.