Anthony's Story
 Anthony's story

  Herniated lumbar disc

Debilitating back pain is difficult to endure at any time – and to experience it during a pandemic can cause an additional layer of concern. This is the situation Anthony found himself grappling with this spring. His pain was excruciating and brought him to tears on more than one occasion. His wife, Lisa, helped navigate their way to Mayfield where Anthony accepted an expedited appointment with Kate Walters, PA-C. She immediately recognized the severity of Anthony's pain from a herniated lumbar disc and asked Michael Kachmann, MD to join their appointment.

Dr. Kachmann performed a hemilaminectomy and discectomy on Anthony the next morning. Relief was immediate. Anthony was up and walking after surgery and the nerve pain was gone. "It was like fresh air. I could breathe again," he says.

Anthony is no stranger to back, hip and leg pain. He had a total hip replacement a year and a half ago, so when he experienced pain this time around, he assumed it was related to his other hip.

Since the back pain worsened over the next few weeks, he finally contacted his orthopedic doctor's office. The physician assistant (PA) prescribed oral steroids and steroid hip injections - but nothing worked and the pain was becoming unbearable. He couldn't get out of bed, couldn't sleep, and lost 15 pounds because he didn't even want to eat. The orthopedic PA thought it might be spine-related and referred him to Mayfield.

Lisa and Anthony
He jokes, "If it wasn't for my wife, I'd probably still be in bed."

Lisa called Mayfield on Anthony's behalf. The Access Coordination specialist who took the call recognized that Anthony needed to be seen quickly, so he was offered an expedited appointment the next day with Kate Walters, PA-C, an advanced practice provider. Anthony and Lisa were comfortable with this option since both work in healthcare and they knew it was a way to get in quickly with experienced spine specialists.

At Mayfield, advanced practice providers, or APPs, are part of every neurosurgeon's care team. Each APP has special training in care for patients with diseases and disorders of the brain and spine. They have direct access with the surgeon and other members of the care team, and provide continuity of care as the patient moves through their treatment plan. They explain conservative and surgical treatment options and can also prescribe medications, therapy, and develop care plans.

Ms. Walters immediately recognized that Anthony needed surgery and knew she had to speak with Dr. Kachmann as soon as possible to make that happen.

"Dr. Kachmann and I are able to independently evaluate and manage patients during clinic, but we do so alongside one another. Whenever necessary, I am able to quickly and efficiently bring him in on a case," says Ms. Walters. "In Anthony's case, I knew he needed intervention quickly and meeting with Dr. Kachmann was one simple step away."

Dr. Kachmann explained that a herniated disc and spinal stenosis were the causes of his pain and that he needed surgery right away. Anthony was concerned about having surgery at a hospital during COVID-19, but he says, "Dr. Kachmann was very reassuring, easy to talk to, and gave us confidence it would all be OK." He had surgery at Bethesda North Hospital and saw first-hand all of the precautions taking place, "They are doing what they are supposed to be doing as far as being cautious, wearing masks and PPE," he explains.

Dr. Kachmann acknowledges, "We first try to pursue conservative care whenever possible, but when symptoms are severe enough we will proceed with surgery in an urgent manner, like we did with Anthony. It's a good thing we did or he could've been at risk for permanent nerve damage, weakness or blood clots in his legs from his inactivity and lying in bed due to pain."

Anthony wants others to know, "If you have any type of problem, go to the doctor. Don't hold off, because it's going to get worse." He jokes, "If it wasn't for my wife, I'd probably still be in bed." He continues, "If you have any problem, first feel comfortable with the doctor. Dr. Kachmann broke everything down for me. He made me feel so comfortable. He's a good guy – great guy."

~ Christa McAlpin

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Hope Story Disclaimer -"Anthony's Story" is about one patient's health-care experience. Please bear in mind that because every patient is unique, individual patients may respond to treatment in different ways. Results are influenced by many factors and may vary from patient to patient.

L to R: Kate Walters, PA-C, Lisa, Anthony and Dr. Kachmann

Related links:

Blog: A nurse practitioner maps an expedited path to improved spine care

Herniated Lumbar Disc

Spinal Stenosis


Lumbar Discectomy

Physician spotlight: Dr. Michael Kachmann

Learn more about the important role of Advanced Practice Providers at Mayfield

Dr. Michael Kachmann discusses minimally invasive spine surgery.