When Julie decided to move some of her furniture, the result was a little more than she had planned. She aggravated a back injury, herniating a disc, and began a years-long search for relief. A search that ended, finally, at the USC Spine Center, part of Keck Medicine of USC.
At first, with treatments at other facilities, she could manage the pain. But over time, the treatments were less effective, and the pain took a greater toll on her life. She was coping until her spinal cord was punctured during an epidural performed by an anesthesiologist at a different surgery center in Los Angeles, forcing her to use a wheelchair.
Acupuncture and physical therapy got her walking again, but she still couldn’t do the activities she wanted. Then her family took a three-week trip to Europe, and, despite her preparations, it proved too much for her back.
“I was able to manage it while I was there, but once I got home, the pain just got worse. I could not get a handle on it. I couldn’t walk. For four to six weeks I was confined to my bedroom,” Julie said.
Despite the impact her back pain was having on her and her family’s plans, Julie tried to avoid back surgery attempting other procedures that ultimately proved to be unsuccessful. Finally, her father-in-law suggested she see Jeffrey Wang, M.D., co-director of the USC Spine Center.
Dr. Wang alleviated her fears, and explained why microdiscectomy surgery was the right option for her injury. Julie said, “He was concerned that I may have permanent nerve damage due to the herniated disc pressing on my sciatic nerve, causing the constant numbness in my leg. Also, he was concerned about the potential pressure the disc was placing on my sacral nerve, which could result in incontinence.”
Now, there was even more riding on Julie’s recovery than simply regaining her mobility. During Julie’s search for relief, doctors found a tumor in one of her kidneys. Unfortunately, due to the nature of this type of cancer surgery, her doctors recommended that she wait to proceed with cancer surgery until her back pain was under control. At this point, finding a solution for her extreme back pain was no longer a necessity to improve her quality of life, it was potentially a matter of life and death. A rapid relief of her back problem was essential so Julie could move ahead with the cancer surgery she needed.
Julie quickly scheduled her surgery. Dr. Wang was with her every step of the way and answered all her questions, before and after the surgery.
“You could tell that he had my best interests at heart. I felt that, and it was backed up by the research that he has done and also the surgical experience that he has. His interest was clearly his patients and his patients’ care,” she said.
Since the microdiscectomy was minimally invasive, Julie’s recovery started swiftly and she was immediately able to walk again.
“I saw Dr. Wang two weeks later, and he was just so happy to see me walking. He said, ‘Look at you, look at how well you are doing.’”
Just seven weeks after the microdiscectomy Julie underwent another surgery to remove the tumor in her kidney. The procedure, which was also performed at Keck Medicine of USC, proved successful. Julie is now on the road to recovery and it’s a road she’ll be able to walk, thanks to Dr. Wang.
“I would definitely go back to him. I wouldn’t go to anyone else,” Julie said. “I wish all physicians were like him.”