Wendy Reynolds has always been very active and a person that enjoys staying busy. Whether it’s biking several miles daily or long walks, she has always found outdoor activity to be enjoyable and invigorating.
Wendy distinctly remembers October 7, 2013 as a day that should have been a normal busy day, but changed the whole next year of her life. She had some previous back issues several years ago as a result of an accident while horseback riding, but said she “was never bothered by it.” It wasn’t until that Fall Monday morning that she made a move that would actually trigger some serious pain in her back.
Wendy spent the morning trying to get a new bed set up in her home. Without warning, the bed frame fell on her foot, causing tremendous pain, and in the process, the bed also folded over, causing Wendy to catch her balance in an awkward position. Initially, Wendy thought that her foot was injured and decided to simply “walk it off”. Over the next three weeks, the problem persisted and the pain intensified, radiating from her foot to her back. “I started to have significant muscle spasms in my back that started taking over. It never got better. It just kept getting worse.” Wendy reached the point where she could no longer walk normally, but was instead “dragging [her] foot along.”
Listening to her husband’s advice, she went to see a foot specialist at Tuckahoe Orthopaedics. After x-rays and manipulating the injured foot, the foot specialist called in a spine specialist, Dr. Jed S. Vanichkachorn (“Dr. Van”), for his opinion as to the source of the pain and her back spasms. “Everyone there worked really well as a team to determine the source of the pain and to begin aggressively treating it,” she noted.
Due to the extensive amount of time in between the injury and the office visit, Wendy was facing potentially permanent nerve damage if something was not done quickly. Dr. Van started with an MRI right away which clearly revealed the bulging disc in her lower back. Dr. Van’s initial treatment consisted of epidural shots to alleviate the pain caused by the bulging disc that was pushing on her nerve and to reduce the inflammation. After three days, it was apparent that this approach would not provide the necessary relief.
Wendy’s only other option was surgery, exactly one day before Thanksgiving. “I had total faith in [Dr. Van] and what he was doing. Everyone at the office explained things very well and answered all my questions. My biggest concern was not having any permanent damage and I wanted to fix the root cause of the pain and not have a life of taking medicines to reduce pain. I also think that I had the fear of the unknown, but Dr. Van and his staff were so reassuring that they could fix my back and that with proper physical therapy, I could, over time, resume my regular lifestyle.”
Dr. Van completed a successful microdiscectomy spine surgery to repair the source of Wendy’s pain. “The first thing I did when I awoke from surgery was ask to get up… I was so happy because I could put both feet on the floor in front of me.”
“I knew I had a long road ahead of me, and Dr. Van told me it would take a year to recover from this…that it was important to get physical therapy and follow a steady program to regain my strength and flexibility. Everything he’s told me all the way along has been right on the money and he and his team have been great in managing my expectations. Today there’s no more pain. I can move just about 99% of how I could before.” Wendy went through physical therapy, motivating herself to keep up with her progress and work towards a goal. Sure enough, the results have paid off.
Wendy is now back to her bike, riding 5 – 6 times a week, up to 8 – 10 miles a day, something she says she’ll continue to do as long as she can, even adding miles to her trips in the future. “I’m continuing to see great results and don’t plan on stopping any time soon,” says Wendy. “Almost one year later, the only remaining sign of the surgery is some minor scar tissue.”