As many of you may have learned from one of my previous posts, “5 Reasons Why I love my Wife” that I had a major back surgery back in September for which I am still undergoing physical therapy. I will spare you all the gory details but I had thoracic cord compression due to disc herniation complicated by calcification.
It got to a point where my balance was affected and I was not able to literally walk unless I had some support. I always played it off as a bad case of a pinched nerve or to my chronic lower back pain and never gave it a thought until the persistence from the wife. After several visits and tests with various specialists, I was advised to check into the ER at JohnsHopkinsHospital(this was on September 22nd) and this is where we eventually met Dr. Ziya Gokaslan, truly a Godsend.
After Dr. Gokaslan had a chance to review my MRI’s and X-rays, he personally came into the room to discuss the matter at hand. His voice was reassuring, his statements honest and direct. . He suggested that I have two options. Not do the surgery and risk paralysis or do the procedure with a 95% chance of full recovery (and still risk paralysis due to the complex nature of the procedure). The room was dead silent. I was too young to have this happen to me. What if the surgery did not go as planned? All these thoughts start going through your head and you literally see your life pass before your eyes. My wife and brother were both in the room and they could tell how shaken I was by hearing this.
However, his encouragement and his words were simple and explanative. He made sure that I had a complete understanding of everything. From my MRI’s to the procedure itself, no information was left unexplained. I felt informed and relieved. I was in good hands. The surgery would happen on September 29th.
All of my family as well as the in-laws were there for motivation and encouragement and from the time I went under the knife to the time I woke up in ICU – is all a blur. Going into it, I was informed I would require two separate surgeries within a few days of each other but fortunately Dr. Gokaslan and his team was able to take care of it in on shot. The procedure was not bad (easy for me to say, I was obviously knocked out). The family and mainly my wife – well I gave her a good scare. I had heard horror stories that if your herniations were extreme, the pain would be severe. Not true in my case. Although my back was “sore” afterward, it was nothing compared to the discomfort I was experiencing pre-op.
October 1st I would officially begin my new life, I am not going to lie – having to lie in bed all day and night on my back with tubes sticking out left and right was probably the most excruciating, mind numbing time of my life. But with the constant reinforcing statement from my wife, “this too shall pass”. Dr. Gokaslan’s reassurance, compassion and understanding helped me through out the hospitalization. Finally, after all tests had been done, x-rays taken, tubes pulled out – I would be able to go HOME. This was on October 8th.
Few weeks later, we had our first postoperative consultation with Dr. Gokaslan. Overall, I felt great but was having periodic stiffness and soreness in my back and side, pressure on my lungs. It was normal, I was assured, but probable that the stiffness and pain in my back would remain for 3 or so months and then begin to ease up. I was instructed not to lift anything heavier than a can of coke for 3 months, no bending, and no twisting. After a glance from my wife, I agreed! I knew far too well the alternative if I did not abide! Once again, Dr. Gokaslan’s confidence and reassurance provided me with the courage to get through this difficult time.
It is now December 22 and well, here I am. Three months after my admittance into Johns Hopkins. Today, as I write this testimonial, I am sitting at home watching my daughter lounging in the great room waiting for me to take her to a movie. Gone are the days I stay inside and watch life pass by, gone are the days I have to get up every couple of hours to stretch, walk and inconvenience the wife and daughter, my wife is no longer peeking her head into the door after every 30 minutes, gone are the days my mother in law will have to put her life on hold and come stay here so she can take Tarina to and from school. The initial 3 month recovery period is over, and I am beginning to live life again. I am still cautious – errr, my wife is still cautious about what I do and how I do it, and I probably always will be. There is always the fear of re-injury that lurks in our minds. I DO NOT want to experience that again! I still have some stiffness and soreness and continue to have some limited mobility bending my back, but I am going to PT 2-3 times a week so hope/expect to have full range of motion in the next few months. The positive is that I continue to note progress every day in small amounts.
Bottom line for those of you who have had similar pains and have this injury now, PLEASE do not waste another moment wondering whether to get it checked out or not. Life is too precious and you do not want to regret later that you could have possibly avoided this.
As stated before, Dr. Gokaslan is a Godsend. He took upon the stress of taking care of me and helping me walk again. Words can not describe the respect and gratitude I feel for him. He is and will be in our prayers every day and may God bless him and his family and provide them with all the happiness life has to offer.
To Dr. Gokaslan…. thank you from deep within my heart. You have given me back my life and my spirit, returned my wife her husband and my daughter her father. There will never be enough time in a day, nor words written, to convey my admiration and gratitude towards you and your staff. Thank You!
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