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Rick's Spine Story

I am a 65-year-old who grew up in Northern Minnesota and have lived here all my life. The great outdoors drew me to hunting, fishing, downhill skiing, snowmobiling, and riding all sorts of motorcycles. Cars of course were included in that lineup. It is hard to list all the organizations I have joined throughout the years. This year I received a certificate for 35 years in the Aad Shrine Temple. My better half, Celeste, and I started dating on her birthday and this year marks 23 years together. We learned to grow together and enjoy our lives together.

Fun hints to try to figure out what town I grew up in Northern Minnesota: Our mothers played bridge together in foursome's and we graduated in 1976 with one of us to move on to play for the Boston Celtics. I walked to and from school each day by a house two blocks North from my house where the Zimmerman’s lived whose son would become a Nobel Prize winner a few years ago. We used to claim the largest iron ore open pit mine in the world.

So, about springtime of 2022, I started to have some discomfort in my left lower extremity (leg). I figured it was just from driving 45 miles home after working a long shift as a Registered Nurse. As time went on, I found the discomfort to become very painful. As a nurse I kind of thought it was just working long hours through COVID. Eventually I went to a chiropractor for some sort of relief. X-rays revealed my spine, top to bottom, had arthritis and bone spurs. Again, as a nurse I figured it was just part of my aging process. My chiropractor explained that I had compression in my lower vertebrae and would need surgery to solve the problem. In the process to satisfy and exhaust all options, I went through traction in physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and injections, all of which didn't solve the pain/discomfort issues. I was in constant pain and could not even wax my 1967 Mustang convertible. Over the last several months before my surgery, I was having all I could do to work an eight-hour shift. Luckily, the staff I work with helped me with as much as they could. Our two visits as Santa Clause and Celeste as Elf to our favorite elementary school had to be cut short from four hours to two hours with limited physical contact because I knew my back was not up to lifting children onto my lap.

Finally, it was time to consider surgery. Long story short, my chiropractor recommended Twin Cities Spine Center as the place for my surgery. Other people in the area who had had back surgery also recommended Twin Cities Spine Center. I initially met with Dr. Carlson and was impressed with his explanation of what was needed to correct the back pain/discomfort. Dr. Carlson gave me two dates for my surgery, and I chose December 29th as it would be past Christmas. The staff was very accommodating in getting me scheduled before the end of the year. They went above and beyond in providing us with total satisfaction.

One of the ladies I work with drove Celeste and I to Minneapolis the day before surgery. The next day pre-op Dr. Carlson explained what would be included in the operation and that it would take about five hours. When I woke up, I found out that the poor guy had me for six and 1/2 hours. I had kept him past dinner time. I was in Abbott Northwestern Hospital for five days. Remember I was 261 lbs. of pretty much dead weight. Throughout the process of the staff having to take care of me they were 100% on target and met all expectations to keep me as healthy as possible. Even the custodial and culinary crew were the best.

This experience was truly humbling for me. I came home to wear both a pull up brief and a back brace along with being attached to two different types of walkers to help me get around. It is i who now has others hold a door open for me. Without my better half Celeste to help me with some of the simplest tasks I would have had to possibly reside for a short term stay in a nursing home type of setting. All the support and help from others has not gone unnoticed. I have lost track of how many times I have said "Thank You!"

Since returning home, my bilateral upper rear extremities and foot pain is gone. The only pain is the incision site, which is controlled with medications, ice packs, movement. I have had lots of questions/concerns after surgery and Celeste and I really have to thank all the staff, especially Dr. Carlson's nurse Ashley, who has been so patient with our constant questions and has helped us throughout this process. I am getting better, and it is wonderful to no longer have the old pain as each day the incision pain is diminishing. This equates to me being able to return to work at a time in which our facility is so short on nurses and I will be able to get back to my coworkers and all those who we care for in our day. This summer I can again get to working on the Mustang and get the Yamaha motorcycle out for a ride (from Celeste: Not if I have anything to say about it!).

Thank you so very much,