2014 was a brutal year!
My name is Bryce Thompson. I have a loving wife Kristen and two beautiful children.
In the summer of 2014 whenever I walked or played golf or tennis my legs began to give out. I would just be walking along and suddenly I would fall down.
I had tingling and numbness in my arms, hands, legs and feet.
I was not in any pain but just had a dead body, it was scary.
I thought I had early on-set of MS or a really bad case of Lyme disease. Blood tests all came back negative.
Finally, I got an MRI and found out that the problem was two severely herniated discs in my neck. I had a 90% spinal cord compression. One bad golf swing and I could be paralyzed for life.
I was referred to Dr. Albert by a trusted old friend, Dr. Kevin Nini. Dr. Nini went to medical school with Dr. Albert and was able to get me in to see him right away. "When you are dealing with your spine you go to the best doctor at the best hospital" and Dr Nini said for cervical spine - that is Dr Albert hands down.
Turns out he was right.
Dr. Albert was able to schedule me for surgery right away. In fact it was within three weeks of our first visit. Thank god because at that point I could barely walk.
Dr. Albert's entire staff was awesome. They followed up promptly, got me the appointments I needed for pre-op and generally made the experience stress free.
The day of surgery was stress free as well and all the folks I encountered from the receptionist to the nurses, to the anesthesiologist made me feel at ease, informed and ready for surgery.
After one night of recovery in the hospital, which was unfortunately marred by a slamming broken door. (It was promptly fixed the next morning as I was being released). I was able to go home. I was cleared to leave at 11:00 AM after WALKING DOWN THE HALL, less than 24 hours after surgery! Sadly, my release paper work took about four hours to be produced, but I was still in great spirits when I finally got to leave at 3:00 PM.
My bunk mate during my sleepless night and as I waited to be released was an Irish chap who had taken a header down a flight of stairs his first night of vacation in New York at an Irish Pub. He was in good spirits despite his pain and I advised his wife to spend her time wisely using his credit card and shopping her brains out. I meanwhile would keep her husband company. As soon as she heard my advice - she sprinted out to do her holiday shopping and I got released. I know that my Irish friend in the recovery room was in good hands with the staff, I am assuming his wife took good care of the credit card.
My operation was so well done that I needed only a soft neck brace. To be perfectly honest I probably did not need it, but as instructed I wore it for two weeks and felt better every day.
All my follow up visits to HSS were smooth, quick and professional. Thank you.
Walking was a big part of my recovery. Two weeks post surgery, I was out with my wife walking upwards of three miles a day. I could feel my nerves sparking back to life - re-energizing my legs and feet.
My recovery story gets better....
I had made a prior commitment to be in a dancing competition for charity that would occur in April of 2015.
The charity was Young Audiences of NJ and Pennsylvania and the event was Dazzle: Mad Hot Ball Room. In January 2015, a month after spinal surgery, I started dance lessons.
We were doing a swing dance and I could barely stay upright. Balance is the thing that you lose most when you have herniated discs in your neck and it does not come back immediately after surgery.
We practiced twice a week and it really helped with my recovery. At the beginning of April we had the event in front of 400 people. My partner and I had to DANCE and DANCE we did! It was truly amazing.
BACK IN THE GAME.
I went to a routine follow up appointment with Dr. Albert before the event and he sat quietly staring at my X-rays. I asked what was wrong, and he laughed and looked at me. He asked me what I had been doing for rehab. I said I had been dancing. He laughed again and told me he had never seen anyone heal up as quickly as I had - it was remarkable! Dr Albert confirmed that my fusion had "taken" and I was officially cleared to play golf, tennis and of course continue dancing.
My adventures post surgery did not end there.
In August of 2015 we went on safari as a family to Southern Africa. Going on safari is fun, but certainly not strenuous. However climbing the largest sand dune in the world is strenuous. Seven months after surgery I was able to scale "BIG DADDY" in Namibia! This was difficult to even the most experienced of hikers and climbers - after accomplishing this feat, I knew I was definitely "BACK IN THE GAME" and nothing could stop me now.
Many thanks to Dr. Albert and his entire staff at HSS and to all the other employees at HSS.
My experience was seamless and I have never felt better.
A year later - I am still dancing, this time learning tango with my lovely wife. I have enjoyed playing golf and tennis with both my children and not to mention even got back on skis! I continue to work with a trainer a few days a week to build strength in my legs and core, as well as walk every chance I get.
This surgery saved my quality of life.
W. Bryce Thompson