Clarissa Yonker

Clarissa Yonker

“This odyssey began when I broke my right ankle. The chair I was standing on went out from under me and I ended up on the floor. But that little accident was a blessing in disguise. That’s because my doctor and I paid more attention to the subtle symptoms that followed, whereas I might otherwise have ignored them for months. “As I was recovering from the ankle surgery, I began to experience radiating leg pain in my right leg. The doctor assured me that it had nothing to do with the ankle which had healed nicely. Rather, he thought it was sciatica due to a herniated disc, which is not unusual in someone in later middle age as I was. He said that the disc problem should be checked out and he recommended that I go to see Dr. Hollis. Dr. Hollis took a contrast MRI and came back with the frightening news that I not only had advanced spinal stenosis between L4 and L5 but that I also had a very large, rather rare intradural tumor between L1 and L2. The stenosis could wait but the tumor needed to come out right away. I nearly fainted.

“So a month later I checked into LIJ Medical Center and Dr. Hollis removed the tumor. Thankfully the mass turned out to be benign and it had done no harm to my spinal cord. I came out of that procedure without any side effects except a little residual numbness in that side. That numbness was just enough to put an end to the occasional ache in my right knee that I have had since childhood. Then in November, when I was 100% recovered from the tumor resection, Dr. Hollis brought me back — this time to North Shore University Hospital — to take care of the spinal stenosis. He performed what he described as a minimally invasive lumbar fusion, fixing the fusion with two plates and some connectors at the L4-5 site. After a few days of recovery, the sciatica that had been troubling me for months was gone. Though the physical therapy that Dr. Hollis had prescribed postoperatively was great, I stayed with it only three months because I just felt so good and so normal that I didn’t think I needed it. And the PTs told me I was doing better than they expected, too.
“Dr. Hollis has been fantastic all the way along. He addresses all my questions and concerns, and his neurosurgical results are nothing short of astounding. I’ve met a lot of people who’ve had similar surgery, and when we trade stories I can’t help but notice that most of them still seem to be in some various degree of pain. But for me this experience has been entirely positive. Plain and simple, Dr. Hollis gave me my life back and I think it’s time to go have some fun. After 30 years with the FAA, I’ve decided to retire. My husband and I have started planning the next chapter of our lives, putting our house in East Meadow on the market and we’ll be heading out west soon to resettle, maybe in Las Vegas. I feel like I can do anything now and with all this new-found energy rising I want to find out.”
 

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