Describe your quality of life before treatment.
Despite three back surgeries and three shoulder surgeries, my quality of life was very poor. My neck had hurt for years, but the pain got to the point where something had to be done. The depression caused by chronic pain had become too debilitating to handle.
What did you do to try to reduce or control the pain?
I tried pretty much all other options, including acupuncture, osteopath, therapy, drugs, booze.
How long did you endure symptoms before seeking treatment?
I have had chronic pain in both my neck and back for many years. I'm in my 60s now, and my first surgery, a laminectomy at L-4-5 was back in 1978.
What treatments did you undergo?
Dr. Slosar has done four different procedures, including a neck fusion at C 4-5, C 5-6, followed a year or so later by a fusion at C 6-7. Then, back surgeries including a two level fusion at L 2-3 and L 3-4. The hardware from that fusion was removed.
What did you do to prepare for surgery?
I stayed as fit as I could, considering the pain and lack of flexibility. I tried to keep my weight down and maintain good core strength. I followed the pre-op requests, including quitting my anti-inflammatory medications.
Describe your recovery from surgery.
My recovery from the cervical fusions went well. My personal experience is that all orthopedic surgeries take six months to a year to completely heal. At that point, you know just how successful the surgery was. In both the cervical fusions and the lumbar fusion (after the hardware was removed), I've recovered very well and the pain has been greatly reduced. I'm healing still.
In what ways has treatment changed your life?
Obviously, chronic pain in multiple parts of your body is debilitating. When you take that pain away, life gets a hell of a lot better. Since my first disc rupture and laminectomy in 1978, it’s been a relentless, steady stream of surgeries and chronic pain. With so many surgeries in the last two years (hopefully no more), I'm still in healing mode. After recent shoulder surgery, I've done nothing but walk on a treadmill and watch my diet. Hopefully, I’ll be back to light workouts soon and look forward to no pain.
What advice would you share with others who have a similar condition?
Stay as fit as you can. You don't want to carry extra weight around your mid-section while you're experiencing back pain. That's just common sense. Watch for serious bouts of depression. The surgeries today are so much better and less invasive that the recovery is much easier, and full recovery or at least dramatic improvement to your quality of life is achievable with the right doctor.
Dr. Slosar was recommended to me by a doctor friend I have known since fifth grade. He has operated on my shoulders three times now, but he doesn't work with spine injuries. I asked him who he would let operate on his spine and he said, "One guy, Paul Slosar." I cannot say enough about what a tremendous job Dr. Slosar did for me. And the bonus is he's a helluva good guy, straight shooter, and sensitive human being.