When coronavirus hit New Jersey, we had some help coming into the home from the V.A. that gave me extra support in maintaining my activity level. When the aide had to stop coming due to exposure to COVID-19, I tried to keep up my activity on my own. I was in the garage working out on my exercise bike and felt a slight back twinge when I got back into the house. The next day, that twinge had evolved into searing pain. My wife and I were nervous about going to the doctor in the midst of the pandemic, but we had no choice. We went to one of the most reputable orthopedic conglomerates in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They did x-rays and said I had a compression fractures of the L2 & L3 vertebrae and that since I wasn’t a candidate for surgery the only thing they could recommend was physical therapy and pain medications.
Months went on, and the pain continued to worsen to the point that I could barely move. At 94 years young, and a WWII veteran, I’ve been through a lot in my lifetime. This pain was worse than anything I have ever experienced. Any time I moved I would yell out in pain, much to the chagrin of my family. It was so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed by myself, I couldn’t walk by myself, I couldn’t dress or wash myself. In fact, the pain was so bad that I had no appetite and had lost over 40 pounds! It was no way to live. We begged the doctors to help us and at the end of it all was told that there was nothing more they could do for me.
Our daughter took to the computer and started researching alternative treatments for my condition. She came across a multitude of articles from HSS on non-surgical remedies and made a call to HSS, not thinking anything would come of it, as we had completely lost hope. I was initially given a virtual appointment with Dr. Namish Baxi out of Paramus, who then referred me to Dr. Edward Yoon in NYC. It was a nerve-wracking time- we didn’t quite get what a “vertebroplasty” was, much less an “interventional radiologist,” but I was at the end of my rope with the pain and the loss of any quality of life. This was truly our last resort. If this didn’t work, I didn’t know how I was going to continue to live with that pain. I didn’t have the physical or emotional strength at that point to do anything other than trust HSS. I didn’t understand what a radiologist had to do with anything, I thought they just read x-rays. But, Dr. Yoon, who is the head of interventional radiology at HSS, explained everything to us with compassion and patience. He made me feel comfortable, but more importantly, he gave me hope for the first time in months.
Within a week, Dr. Yoon arranged for me to have a kyphoplasty procedure at HSS in NYC. Our entire experience at HSS was first-rate. The COVID-19 safety protocols were reassuring, and the professionalism of the staff was excellent. After I got out of the recovery room, we had an hour and a half drive home after the procedure. I talked the whole way home and I even had an appetite for dinner that night! But the pièce de resistance was when I woke up the next morning for the first time in almost six months without pain. My daughter made me a special blueberry pancake breakfast and I was all smiles from the inside out!
It’s now two months later and I’d like to share that I am back to the quality of life that I had before the fracture. I am back in physical therapy with my angel, Angela Minnig, of Fox Rehabilitation and continue to make progress. I went for a walk around the block today! My appetite has returned, and I’ve gained some of the weight back. Life is livable again and I can smile today. My family and I are grateful to Dr. Yoon and his staff for all of the help and care I was given.