Skip to main content

Ann's Spine Story

I am Ann, and this is my life and my story. I am a couple of minutes past 60, and we have a very large family, with 4 grown and married children, 18 grandchildren, aged 22 through 2 years of age. We are quite involved with attending all kinds of their sports, activities, celebrating birthdays and graduations etc. I love to cook and provide dinners and cakes for our family and neighbors for fun or when they might need a little help! My husband and I love to fish, hike, garden and work with our golden retriever, Ellie who is 2 & 1/2, hoping to train her to become a therapy dog.

I first met Dr Schwender for a second opinion in 2006. I was having trouble walking more than 10 minutes at a time due to pain and unbearable heaviness in my legs. And I couldn't pick up any of our grandbabies due to the pain. He said "I can help you and it’s not your fault, you didn't do anything to cause this in your spine." That meant so much to me! So he surgically repaired my lower lumbar disks, I made a complete recovery and was able to gradually resume all my activities.

Later around 2020 I had been experiencing pain and limitations with terrible stiffness in my neck, both sides, but the left side pain traveled down to my fingers causing decrease in sensation and limited manipulation along with pain and tingling. I began to setup appointments with Dr Schwender for this pain, alternating appointments with his physician assistant Josh Hohertz, seeking noninvasive relief for the pain and numbness. This problem was gradually becoming very limiting with all my tasks and was so fatiguing because it took me 2 to 3 times longer to complete my activities of daily living. This pattern became increasingly limiting through to last fall. Dr Schwender left it up to me to decide surgery. He was very kind and patient in his counsel but gave me the direct facts.

Finally last October 2022 as I was sadly losing more function rapidly. I was having trouble with all fine motor tasks, zipping, buttoning, snapping, putting on makeup, and pulling up the bed covers, pulling on my pants, dropping things, etc and I couldn't feel my hair with my left hand. And I was exhausted from all the extra effort! In addition to all these limitations, it was also limiting me and my husband from family activities! When I met with Dr Schwender and reported these developments, he told me what was happening, how my spinal cord was being compressed and it was very important we schedule and do the cervical spine repair as soon as possible! I talked to his nurse Vicki, several times getting on the schedule, with questions and concerns before and after the surgery. She was also so kind and listened to my concerns, provided me with answers and encouragement or called me back with the teams answers to some of my questions.

On January 11, 2023 Dr Schwender and his team, performed a very complex cervical spine repair on my neck. Upon awakening from surgery, I was fully functional and my hands were not claw like. I had very strict restrictions for several months and I had a lovely Miami J collar to wear 24/7 . I told my family I was getting ready for WWF.... You just have to laugh sometimes!!

I followed all the restrictions wearing the collar through the night and got used to it! Little by little I noticed more improvements; sensations in my hand, no longer dropping things and I could feel my hair, put on makeup, and my hands were even steadier! Now its May 4, 2023 almost 5 months later. I met with Josh Hohertz last week and after his review of the X-rays, he reported to me that I was doing excellent and could resume my normal activities, but of course the spine was still healing. So, with that report my husband booked us a fishing trip! And we attended one of the boys basketball games and a birthday party! It is very difficult to put into words the thankfulness we feel to Dr Schwender and his team, they are all profoundly wonderful and skilled.

This team of professionals really does care and I feel blessed by God to have been led to this doctor and his team.

We are so very grateful to Dr Schwender, Josh, Vickie, and everyone on the TC spine staff.

It's fantastic to LIVE again!!

Ann and Ken Larson