“I began to notice a problem in my right hand in March 2007, a few months after I turned 39. It wasn’t pain but rather numbness, which I took to be carpal tunnel syndrome. I went to see my PCP about it. Right away, he noticed something else — I was walking differently, too. He thought it might be in my neck and he sent me for X-rays and then on to a neurologist who ordered an MRI. By this time, I was definitely aware that something more serious was going on. The numbness had traveled to my right arm and leg which were also becoming weaker. The neurologist confirmed what the PCP had said: the problem was in the cervical spine and that I had a very large bulging disc that was pressing on my spinal cord. I was then referred to a neurosurgeon.
“The neurosurgeon showed me and my husband a picture of the pinch point and said that he wanted to do surgery right away. He described the hardware he was going to insert, and said that I should expect to have reduced mobility in my neck afterward. Well, you can imagine that this news scared us plenty. I’m director of recreation at a long-term care facility and the mother of four young children. That wasn’t going to work for me. The next day, I told a nurse colleague at my job about my diagnosis and how concerned I was. She urged me to go see her friend, Dr. Overby, for a second opinion.
“Dr. Overby was wonderful. He explained that I had ‘disc herniation at the C4-C5 level with significant central spinal stenosis and cord compression.’ He also reported that he could pick up some subtle ‘signal changes’ in the spinal cord which meant that more serious problems like partial paralysis were ahead for me if I didn’t have surgery soon. He described a simple stainless steel disc that he could insert to take the place of the damaged disc and said that I should have little if any stiffness or immobility afterward.
“On October 30, 2007 I went in to North Shore University Hospital for the procedure. When I awoke from the anesthesia I had a tiny incision on my neck where Dr. Overby had gone in but otherwise no pain or discomfort. He told me that I was one of the first people in Nassau County to get the brand new Prestige® cervical disc and that the procedure had gone perfectly. I was up and walking the next day and home the day after that.
“I’ve been back for a couple of follow-ups and I just feel great, without any limitations. I don’t let little things bother me anymore and I treat my body better, eating more carefully, losing some weight, getting more exercise. At 5’11” I used to think of myself as Superwoman and just jumped into everything without thinking about consequences. Now I am more selective because I am so grateful to be here. I celebrated the big 4-0 at my house last December and what a party that was! We literally wore a hole in the floor dancing for joy. And Dr. Overby is my hero. I can’t say enough about his technical abilities or his ability to make patients feel safe in his hands.”