I am no stranger to orthopedic surgery – I have had nine knee surgeries. As a high-level tennis player, I have unfortunately played through ongoing back pain for most of my adult life. However, the pain in my back began to worsen and I started having nerve problems in my legs. I went to Dr. Paul Slosar at SpineCare Medical Group for a consultation.
I warned Dr. Slosar, “do not to tell me to stop playing tennis!” Dr. Slosar knew that sports are very important to me, so from the beginning our mutual goal was to keep me playing as long as possible. If surgery was necessary, we would work together so I could get back on the court as soon as possible.
The diagnosis was spondylolisthesis – instability of the spinal column. My L4 vertebrae was slipping over the L5 below, which was severely pinching the spinal nerves. Dr. Slosar kept my pain under control for a few years with spinal epidural injections and physical therapy. Over time, however, the deterioration was too severe and we eventually decided that surgery was the best course.
Treatment & Recovery
Dr. Slosar performed surgery to stabilize my spine and take the pressure off of the nerves. The results were immediately noticeable. I was walking 5 miles within three months, my recovery continued rapidly, and Dr. Slosar “allowed” me to get back to tennis. I made a full recovery by six months and (spinal) life was good until… my car was struck by a driver who ran a red light. My L4/5 spinal fusion held up perfectly; unfortunately, my neck was badly injured.
I returned to see Dr. Slosar desperate and frustrated. Tests revealed a herniated cervical disc, that was compressing my spinal nerves and causing neck and arm pain. Amazingly, Dr. Slosar performed my neck surgery as an outpatient so I was able to go home and recover on the same day!
I was again quickly able to return to my tennis and other athletics… until my legs once again gave out. Dr. Slosar performed another spinal fusion up one level, which he explained was not an unusual occurrence. This recovery was even better than the first! I was up and walking everywhere comfortably a couple of weeks post surgery and even able to drive myself to my three week post-operative appointment – three hours each way!
For the first time in my life I can go hiking all day without lower back pain. That was NEVER the case, even as a teenager. I attribute this quick recovery to my amazing surgeon and to a change in diet. I am now completely gluten free and eat almost all organic… and I can tell you that the inflammation that I have often suffered in my back (and knee, post-knee replacement) is gone with no anti-inflammatory drugs! I was off pain medications three days post surgery, and have taken nothing since.
The only thing that reminds me that I’m older is that I’m not as strong when I’m training in the gym. But I can tell you that nothing hurts and that’s a first. I also lost about 15 pounds without thinking about weight loss and I know this has helped my back and knee as well. I am so happy to be able care for my ranch, ride horses, plays tennis, and run a successful yogurt business.
Bobbi’s story is remarkable because she has beaten spinal injuries not once, but three times! Her story would be impressive enough if it were just about her full recovery after a low back fusion. Unfortunately, she was injured several years later in a car accident and suffered a debilitating injury to her neck. Another successful lumbar fusion followed when leg pain returned years later. If you know Bobbi, you are not surprised by her tenacity against adversity.
Footnote from Dr. Slosar: “Bobbi is a model patient!”