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Lawrence Altman

Westport, CT

I am a 65 year-old type-I (insulin-dependent) diabetic for 35 years who always enjoyed working, traveling and many other pursuits. I teach Human Anatomy & Physiology full-time at Naugatuck Valley CC, a wonderful community college in Waterbury, CT. I also looked forward to traveling every year in Europe. In the summer of 2016, I experienced a rapid deterioration of function in my right arm followed by intense flashes of pain. Eventually, the pain spread to my left side and across my neck. I began taking increasing amounts of opioids just to get through the day and in order to sleep at night. In just a few short months, my optimism about life turned to dread for the future. I spent countless hours on Google searching for suggestions on how to deal with chronic pain. After numerous visits to neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons locally (and increasing depression), a colleague, who taught at my school and was close to completing her M.D. degree, suggested that I see Dr. Todd Albert at HSS. A friend at Cornell Medical College concurred that HSS was the place to be. I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spine) as well as three crumbling vertebrae (osteoarthritis) and the loss of the cushioning cartilage between them. Dr. Albert informed me of the need for triple-level ACDF surgery. It all sounded quite scary. But for something like this, however, I was determined to find the very best. I had the surgery in March 2017. Dr. Albert, his office and medical staff (indeed, everyone!) were amazing and unparalleled in the patient care they provided. I have been a patient at over 10 top-notch hospitals in my life. HSS was the most compassionate, efficient, professional and effective among all of them. I have learned why this institution is consistently ranked as the #1 orthopedic hospital in the US. Incidentally, some physicians told me prior to surgery that the proposed fusions in my neck would result in a dramatic decrease in my range of motion and that I would just have to live with it, presuming the operation was a success with no complications. You can imagine why I was a bit skeptical in the beginning. However, Dr. Albert assured me that my range of motion would actually increase since I was probably over-compensating and restricting my motion in order to avoid excruciating pain. I am writing this to share my appreciation and love of HSS. The attached picture of me, post-op in Iceland, shows why I genuinely respect HSS. Thank you, thank you and thank you, again!

P.S. I finished out the Spring 2017 semester and traveled to France and Iceland afterwards. Classes begin again in September and I have already booked my travel for next year. I am truly “back in the Game.”

Lawrence Altman

Westport, Connecticut