Spinal cord decompression
Spine surgery dramatically improved his quality of life
Every month, Ron would give himself a goal while recovering from spine surgery. Stand without wobbling. Spend less time in the wheelchair and walker. Spend more time walking outside. Drive to the store by himself. Cut his own grass.
"Fortunately," he said, "I’m a fighter."
Ron has had plenty to fight, most recently a spinal fracture at the T10 level of his spine. The fracture had been caused by tumors on his spine and from bladder cancer. The tumors destabilized the spine, and the damage was compressing Ron’s spinal cord and causing intense pain that disabled him at times. In February, neurosurgeon Dr. Bryan Krueger repaired the vertebrae.
Dr. Krueger said the surgery has dramatically increased Ron’s ability to perform daily tasks, enhancing his quality of life as he battles other health challenges.
"When I first saw Ron, he was unable to walk or move much. Today, he can walk up and down stairs," Dr. Krueger said. "The improvement in his mobility and strength is amazing."
To relieve the compression caused by spinal stenosis, or a narrowing of the spinal canal, Dr. Krueger removed part of the vertebra, called a corpectomy. He fused the vertebrae from T9-T11 to stabilize the lumbar spine.
After the surgery, physical therapy helped speed Ron’s recovery. Within two months, he was off pain medication and moving better with a walker. At three months, he was able to walk 20 feet with no assistance.
Now that he can move about more freely, Ron said his cancer is in remission. But with a healthier spine and a positive attitude, he remains upbeat about his own health.
"Before the surgery with Dr. Krueger, I couldn’t really do anything," he said. "My legs were gone. They were paralyzed."
Ron traces the original spine injury to August 2020, when he was moving a table in his yard and tried to put it down. He said during the next several months, the pain got to the point where he had to be lifted out of bed into a wheelchair.
"It felt like someone hit me in the back with a ball bat," he said. "When I saw Dr. Krueger, he was honest with me. He told me with the damage that had been done to my spine, there was a chance I wouldn’t be able to walk.
"As far as I’m concerned," he said, "it’s a miracle."
~ Cliff Peale
Hope Story Disclaimer - "Ron'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.