Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Q'dos for Doctor Q, and the NJ Spine Institute

By Angela Connolly, Certified Medical Assistant

For spinal fusion surgery patients, the journey to a full recovery is often a long one. For Frank, it's been a journey filled with highs and lows, and some unexpected turns. Wednesday, February 12th marked a milestone, as Frank met with Dr Louis Quarteraro for his final visit at just about 7 months post op. Although Frank won't officially be out of the post-op period until the one-year mark, this visit was the final visit in person with Dr. Q, and a chance to say good bye with a special gift.

A giant Q for Doctor Quartararo, aka "Dr Q", of the NJ Spine Institute in Paramus, NJ

X-Ray at 12 weeks post-op
The human body is an amazing thing in its power to heal and rebuild itself. The small scars from the Endoscopic fusion are barely visible now, and the battery nerve stimulator pack has been removed. The things that Frank learned in "back school" during his Physical Therapy now come automatically to him, like the distinct ways of bending, kneeling and lifting that protect the fusion and the hardware inside him. Although he sometimes still suffers from occasional low back ache that anyone can get, the crushing pain that traveled down his legs is gone. With caution, he can now lift things without worry of injury. He no longer fears hurting himself unexpectedly. In the early days of a rough recovery, it was sometimes difficult to picture the good days that were just around the corner, but Frank did, and he never for one moment doubted that he had made the right decision to have the surgery. Throughout the recovery period, even at the lowest moments, he remained cheerful and optimistic.

X-Ray at 12 weeks, side
Frank started riding his bicycle again at 12 weeks post-op. Although it has been a cold and snowy winter, he is commuting to work on the days that he can, riding on the weekends when weather permits, and continuing to mentor and coach me. His strength is returning quickly, and he is really looking forward to participating in a full season of cycling, including a 12 day tour to Vermont and New Hampshire, as well as planning Rail Trail tours with me and other friends that we enjoy riding with.

Frank hopes that his story will encourage others who might be struggling with back pain. And he would like to thank Dr Quarteraro and his wonderful staff, all of whom were helpful and encouraging. With his healthy new back, Frank will be able to ride comfortably and strongly. As a matter of fact, he feels so good that, in a hint as to what his future might perhaps hold, I thought I heard the words "cross country ride" from him........  (see also "For 2013, Three Tours and a Surgery")

10 years of chronic back pain started here in Atglen, on the final day of the 900+ mile Tour of Central PA (June 2004).

MRI images taken before 2 Micro-Discectomies and finally, the Endoscopic Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion, or "PLIF" procedure. The latter provided the objective evidence for a permanent fix.

Angela Connolly is a Certified Medical Assistant, most recently in practice with St. Francis Healthcare in Wilmington, DE. With prior experience in Gynecology/Urology, her experience caring for Frank has given her new insight and appreciation into the issues surrounding patients undergoing treatments for Orthopedic/Spinal conditions. Caring for Frank throughout this experience has been very rewarding for her, and she is very pleased to have helped Frank through the recovery process, sharing the journey from first consult to his full recovery.

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