Sandy's story
 Sandy's story

  Cervical-thoracic fusion

Recovery from complex spinal surgery is frequently a family affair. Spouses, siblings, and even children can be called upon to help with meals, laundry, and other aspects of daily living. In Sandy's case, even her pet parrot had to adapt.

For Cecil, Sandy's 32-year-old red lored Amazon parrot, adapting meant giving up his bedtime routine while Sandy's incision healed.

Intent on protecting the incision following a 7-level fusion from her neck to her upper back, Sandy temporarily prevented Cecil from sitting on her shoulders before his bedtime.

"By 7 o'clock he's starting to squawk and carry on, letting me know he needs to snuggle," Sandy explained. "I've had him for 29 years, and this has been our ritual for a long time. He sits on my right shoulder and grinds his beak, something that parrots do before going to sleep. Then he walks around to my left shoulder, shoving his little head up against my neck, wanting me to rub his head."

Denied his evening snuggle, Cecil began to fret. He was "fussy" and kept trying to climb up Sandy's arm. "He was beside himself," Sandy says.

Sandy and Cecil

Sandy and her parrot, Cecil.

Finally, a month after her surgery, Sandy called the Mayfield offices to ask whether it was safe to allow Cecil back onto her shoulder. It was the first parrot-related inquiry that Office Lead Linda Hendrickson had ever fielded. "I never really thought about a parrot needing to snuggle to get to sleep!" said Ms. Hendrickson. She assured Sandy that Cecil could return to his bedtime routine.

Meanwhile, Sandy is also feeling better after undergoing a fusion from C-2 to T-2 by Zachary Tempel, MD, a Mayfield neurosurgeon and specialist in complex spine surgery. The procedure, performed at TriHealth's Good Samaritan Hospital, reduced pressure on Sandy's spinal cord, which was so badly compressed that cerebrospinal fluid was no longer circulating normally.

Sandy is grateful for the excellent care she has received at Mayfield, and she's already back at work part-time. As for Cecil, he has been unable to express his appreciation verbally. Although he can imitate the sound of laughter, music, a ringing phone, and a zipper, he lost his capability for speech many years ago after an unexpected event. After escaping the home of his original owner, Cecil flew up into a tree and could not be coaxed down. Eventually immobilized by two tranquilizer darts, he fell and hit his head. He never talked again.

But we know he's happy, now that he has a loving shoulder to perch on.

~ Cindy Starr

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Hope Story Disclaimer -"Sandy'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.

Related links:

Physician spotlight: Dr. Zachary Tempel

Anatomy of the Spine