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Nurse: Do you have any numbness or tingling?
Lee: Absolutely, they stuck needles in it. I couldn’t feel a thing.
Dr. Sanjay Ghosh, Neurosurgeon: He has severe spinal stenosis or compression of the nerves. He also has some major structural abnormalities in his spine. You can see there’s actually a fracture through the bone.
Lee: There’s a psychological component to pain. It changes people’s personalities. And I don’t want to be one of those angry old men.
Dr. Ghosh: This is the conduit through which the nerves travel. And the conduit is pinched down to nothing.
Lee: I’ve had back pain for 35 years.
Nurse: And how would you describe your pain?
Lee: It’s like someone stuck a light socket at the end of your toe. It’s that jolting.
Colleen Murphy, RN: We’ll have people come and say I’ve had this pain for years. I’m done. I need help. I’m ready. And they reach out to us. They want change. They want their life back. They want to recover.
Sheri, Lee's wife: We can’t play golf together. We can’t travel together. We actually like each other. We really do. He makes me laugh.
Nurse: For how many years have you been married?
Sheri: Almost 37.
Nurse: Thirty-seven, congratulations.
Lee: I didn’t say, I was gonna say 37 just, just I was gonna say that.
Sheri: I should have let him answer.
Lee: He’s going to put this medieval-looking device along my spinal cord and then screw that into the vertebrae. It’s, it’s like an erector set going up.
Dr. Ghosh: We carry with us a deep respect for our patients. Really that, that comes to getting to know what kind of things are important to them.
Sheri: We’ll be waiting for you. Looking forward to it so that Lee can get back to his life and we can enjoy each other; got a lot of living to do.
Dr. Ghosh: I will be using a minimally invasive retractor system.
Physician Assistant: Minimally invasive retractors are great because we’re able to make two small incisions on either side of the spine.
Scrub Tech: Ready to rock and roll.
Dr. Gosh: That technique has really revolutionized the field because we’re able to remove the compression while leaving the paraspinus muscles untouched. Because we’re preserving the muscle it generally enables us to mobilize the patients much earlier. This is the corridor through which we’ll place the screws. A pedicle screw will give bone time to heal and link the vertebrae together naturally. We place pedicle screws at L-4, L-5, and S-1.
Volunteer: Phone call for you from the OR.
Sheri: Thank you. OK and when can I expect that to happen? When you know nothing about medicine, you sit here and wonder what’s going on. They’ve been great about calling.
Dr Ghosh: OK. At this point we are going to remove the retractors and close the incision.
Physician Assistant: You can have the best surgeon. But if you don’t have the underlying kindness and caring for your patient then the patients aren’t going to have a good outcome.
Dr. Ghosh: How are you?
Sheri: I’m fine. How are you?
Dr. Ghosh: I found several reasons for why he was in so much pain. He had a fracture through and through with complete collapse of the disc and that little bone spur. One of those problems alone would cause a tremendous amount of pain. So I was able to fix all of it.
Sheri: So you’re happy.
Dr. Ghosh: The surgery couldn’t have gone any better.
Sheri: Thank you. Aw, look. Dr. Ghosh is thrilled. He is so excited.
Sheri: This will make you happy, too.
Lee: Oh, that makes me very happy. How’s my posture?
Physical Therapist: Actually, very straight, up and down.
Lee: There is no pain. Well, I take that back. There is a little pain.
Physical Therapist: Whatever you can do is good.
Lee: This is pretty cool.
Lee: (Whistling) Where is my little suitcase? Do you have one, babe?
Lee: We’re leaving tomorrow, a little surprise trip for our anniversary.
Sheri: He’s always been full of surprises, a little celebration trip.
Lee: There is no pain, nothing, absolutely nothing. We’ll pack this up. And I guess, I guess I was in, I was in so much pain that it was in my face. And my son said you look different because the pain is now gone from your face. And we’re going to be able to head on out of here in the morning. We have also planned Thanksgiving and…
Sheri: …a Christmas cruise.
Lee: And we hope to spend the next 20 or 30 years doing exactly the same thing.