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Merrilly Noeth

Queens, NY
  • Merrilly Noeth in the photo 1

I put the closest conditions I can. I'm actually not sure of the names. But my story is certainly - to say the least - odd. Until 12 years ago, I had one single migraine headache for 46 years. 12 years ago I saw a chiropractor who, after realizing no matter what he did, whatever he fixed didn't hold, he told me I needed surgery on my cervical spine.

I got online onto the HSS site and looked up the chief of spinal surgery there at the time, and we all know who that was. I made an appointment. Dr. Cammisa sent me to every single test and pain management method available before he would do any kind of surgery, When they didn't work, he did the surgery (I believe the date was was July or August 14, 2004). I came out of Recovery with no pain for the 1st time since age 13 and have never had pain since. He told me I might have a vocal problem unless I am a singer in which case he'd try to avoid it. I AM a singer. I am STILL a singer and have absolutely no movement limitation.

Now fast forward until 7 years ago. I was doing very low impact aerobics and had a slight pain in the center of my right buttock. Forgot about it until the next day when it hurt more. Left it alone until, within 3 years, I could no longer put weight on my right leg at all, in essence I couldn't walk. I wrote to Dr. Cammisa and, of course, the usual EVERYTHING before he said anything. Then he said "I can fix this." I remember the words, they're burned into my brain. He gave me some negative outcome possibilities and said I had to have Forteo shots for at least 6 months before he could touch me because my bones were in terrible shape. I went to Dr. Joseph Lane (downstairs, conveniently on the 1st floor), who told me I can do it, but have to take it for 2 years regardless of surgery. He asked who my surgeon was and I told him. He said, and I'm paraphrasing, whatever he told you about percentages of negative possibilities, turn around into positives. (But I already knew that.)

Apparently I needed more Forteo before Dr. Lane would let me go back to Dr. Cammisa. I was on it for a year first. Dr. Cammisa operated on 3/11/14. Again, I came out of recovery with no pain. At first I thought I might still be woozy from the anesthesia, but by afternoon of that day, I knew the pain was gone for good. The first time he came in to me in the hospital, I said "Good morning, God." And believe me, I meant it. He laughed. (On another occasion, I think in his office, I said something like, well, you've now done the bottom and the top, when will you do the middle - and he said he hoped never.)

I was in physical therapy for about a week and that was it. I have a friend who's a home caregiver. For about 6 weeks, she helped me around the house and in and out of the tub and things like that. Then I didn't need her anymore. I never needed anything anymore. Still don't. I do cheat a bit. If I walk over a mile, I ache or if I walk very fast or stand longer than about half an hour. So-o-o-o, I have a cane with a fold-down seat. If I want to sit and rest a moment, I do it. Besides, it ALWAYS gets me a seat on the bus.

I'm 70 now (2 weeks ago, 3/30). I know I don't look it because everyone tells me constantly I look 50. Which is great - that and Metrocard gets me on the bus to go to school (I'm a freshman at Berkeley College going for a BBA because I'm starting a small business and figure I'd better know how to run one.) I carry books (not anymore this quarter, they're all online, thank heaven - they were heavy). I think he'd kill me if he knew how heavy, but I used a wheely thing so it wasn't bad.