Connie: “Laser Spine Institute is such a blessing”

ConnieFrankConnie has endured one health-related trial after another in recent years. Starting in 2004, her health began to spiral out of control. Doctors gave Connie only three months to live at one point, believing she had cancer. Further testing revealed, however, that Connie did not have cancer but a rare bone disease. This condition, known as bone granuloma sarcoidosis, left tiny lesions up and down Connie’s spine.

“She made regular visits to her pain management and rheumatoid arthritis doctor,” her husband Fred said. “They ordered an MRI and found that the lesions were in remission, but they had formed like barnacles and were impinging her root canals.”

Although these lesions were in remission, they pinched her spinal cord nerves. The impinged nerves sent radiating pain throughout Connie’s body. The pain was debilitating.

“For many years, I had been bedridden,” Connie shared. “I couldn’t do my own Christmas shopping or grocery shopping. I had to send my husband to buy my makeup. I couldn’t wash clothes or vacuum. My husband would bring me breakfast in bed because I couldn’t walk.”

Connie has missed out on life for the past eight years. She hasn’t been able to travel to Indiana to visit her family, go to church with her husband or play with her eight grandchildren.

“I couldn’t play with them,” she recalled. “I tried, but I would end up in so much pain.”

In the last five years, Connie has tried many forms of conservative treatment. She has had more than 70 epidural steroid injections. Her physicians recommended that Connie have a pain pump put in her back because the injections were no longer working.

Neither Connie nor her husband wanted her to have a pain pump. So they began searching for a surgeon who would perform surgery on Connie’s spine.

“We had so many doctors tell us they wouldn’t touch me,” she remembered. “We had our church praying. We knew that God wasn’t going to take us this far and drop us.”

Physician after physician told the couple that the surgery would be too dangerous because of Connie’s medical condition.

“I was so close to giving up,” she shared. “At 62, I was pleading with the Lord to please give me an answer. But I knew the Lord had something better for me somewhere. ”

Connie and Frank were lying in bed watching TV one night when a commercial for Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive procedures flashed across their screen. They called the next day and spoke with Patient Care Coordinator Shawn Turner to learn if Connie was a candidate for Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive procedures.

“The LSI commercial gave us a new hope for a better future,” Connie said. “That’s how we started our journey – when we received a letter that said, ‘yes, we can help you.’”

Connie and Fred traveled from Roanoke, Va. to Laser Spine Institute Tampa.

“I knew when I walked into Laser Spine Institute that this is where God wanted me,” she revealed. “It was like they were my family. It was amazing.”

Connie had two surgeries at Laser Spine Institute with Dr. Zoltan Bereczki. Connie remembered thinking that “it wasn’t very painful at all” when she woke up. Frank was surprised at her success, saying, “She walked better than she had in eight years.”

“Laser Spine Institute is such a blessing. I just appreciate it so much,” Connie shared. “I graduated from a wheelchair to a walker. I’ve been able to walk and not limp.”

Connie has been able to slowly increase how much she walks daily and was even able to do her own shopping. When she’s out and about, Connie tells her story to anyone who will listen.

“Everywhere I go in Roanoke, they hear about Laser Spine Institute,” she said, smiling.

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