As a paratrooper in the military, Ray was accustomed to pushing his body to the limit. He spent years parachuting from airplanes and landing on his feet on rough terrain, both in training and in real battle zones. But after retiring from the military, he developed severe back pain due to the constant compression his back endured from years of hard landings. He saw numerous doctors about his pain, and the result was always the same – more prescriptions for muscle relaxers and pain killers. Ray was getting fed up. “I didn’t want to mask the problem, I wanted to get to the root of it,” he said.
Ray was able to manage his pain successfully for many years by icing his back, exercising regularly and receiving chiropractic manipulation. But in January of 2014, the pain started acting up again and kept him from doing the things he loves, including riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle. He decided it was time to search for a spine specialist and began thoroughly researching his options. Upon finding Dr. Chetan Patel at the Spine Health Institute, he immediately scheduled an appointment and hoped that this time, the cause of his chronic pain could be diagnosed and actually resolved.
Dr. Patel requested a high-intensity ultrasound and found a herniated disc that was pressing on Ray’s spinal cord, causing pain that traveled from his groin to the bottom of his legs. Because his condition was so severe, Dr. Patel recommended surgery to correct the problem—and for Ray, the timing could not have been better. With the pain starting to affect his balance to the point that he had to use a wheelchair to get around for several weeks, the former soldier was ready to take back his life and happy that Dr. Patel was able to help him do that.
Ray received a laminectomy in late March 2014. Just a few hours after surgery, Dr. Patel requested that he get up and walk around. “I told them, ‘I haven’t been able to walk in months and you want me to just get up and walk?’” Ray said. But then something remarkable happened. “I grabbed a walker and I was able to walk around the halls with no problem,” he marveled.
Ray went home the next day and followed the specific orders he received from Charles Goodnough, the physician assistant at the Spine Health Institute. “He told me to stand up and walk every so often and only sit for a certain amount of time. I followed his instructions and I believe this helped me heal.”
Ray was also prescribed physical therapy and recently attended his first therapy session. He is looking forward to getting his mobility back with the help of his therapist, John Lach, but he is equally as excited to get back on his Harley Davidson motorcycle. “I haven’t been able to ride my motorcycle since before January 2014. I can’t wait to ride it again,” he said.
Ray is thankful to the Spine Health Institute team for the time they took to help him and the way they made him feel like a valued patient. He now says he knows he made the right choice for his spine health and wants to make sure the team knows how much they are appreciated. “Big thank you to the team for a wonderful job; they helped me get my life back,” he beamed. “They probably don’t even realize how much they help people.”