Artificial Disc Replacement -Debbie

Debbie B.

I was injured in a workplace assault in 1989, resulting in a wedge-compression fracture of the 1st lumbar vertebrae. This went undiagnosed for several months and until my surgery in Bogen, Germany, I was told repeatedly it was simply “mechanical low back” and “there is nothing we can do”. Over the next several years, I went off work several times, attended endless physiotherapy sessions, and took more and more medications to manage the pain.

By 2006, the pain was completely unmanageable and had taken control of my life. I saw a pain specialist who prescribed spinal injections. After three injections without relief, he told me there was nothing more he could do. I heard about artificial disc replacement in 2001 whereby the first ADR had been successfully performed in London, Ontario in a cervical spine. Reading about ADR, I felt it was something that could help me. After waiting nine months for an appointment, I saw a spinal surgeon late fall of 2006. He said I was not a candidate for ADR as I required two replacements and he only does one. He recommended narcotics and further spinal injections. Needless to say, I was devastated. By this time, I had become a virtual shut-in. Just walking across a room caused severe pain, stairs caused severe numbness and pain to both legs and buttocks, I slept little and required assistance with even the simplest of tasks. I had to give up my activities such as walking my dogs and because I could no longer ride or perform any care, I had to sell my beloved horses.

Medical tourism had been in the news for about a year whereby Canadians had sought out-of –country treatment, mostly in the United States, for heart disease and cancer. Armed with determination and the Internet, I discovered Dr. Bertagnoli and Pro-Spine. Within three months of requesting a case evaluation, my surgery was booked. While my family was anxious about my decision to travel to Germany for major surgery, I had no qualms. From all the anecdotal stories of current and former patients, I felt I would receive the best care. This was only further reinforced when I met Dr. Bertagnoli; I immediately felt at ease and knew I was in good hands.

Two days after surgery I walked up and down 4 flights of stairs. My pain level was minimal and I could walk without the aid of a cane. By the third week, I was walking 5 km daily. The nurses at Kreiskrankenhaus Bogen are second to none and I received excellent follow-up care from the doctors of Pro-Spine. Within 6 months of my 3 – level artificial disc replacement surgery, I was completely pain free without medication and was able to return to work as a Registered Nurse. Thanks to Dr. Bertagnoli, I got my life back and intend on living it to the fullest.

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