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OAA Patient Ambassador: Meet Beth
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May 16, 2018
Every Thanksgiving, Beth Grimm reflects on her life with abundant gratitude. It was about three years ago that Beth could barely walk and had to crawl up steps or hang on to walls and furniture for support. She suffered from daily pain in part from several herniated discs in her spine as well as arthritis.
Despite numerous spinal injections, physical therapy, and months on Prednisone and other pain medications, Beth was still not finding the relief she needed to participate in the activities she loved like hiking, cooking and traveling.
When all else failed, Beth realized surgery may be her only option for relief. Initially, under the care of another doctor, Beth was recommended to have a spinal surgery that could likely have required a second follow-up surgery shortly after. She knew she didn’t want to spend additional time recovering from a second surgery.
It wasn’t until one day that her mother’s friend at church referred her to Dr. McConnell. She spoke highly about a successful surgery she had recently undergone and thought he might be able to help Beth as well.
Dr. McConnell, a surgeon of OAA’s Spine Center of Excellence, brings with him an unparalleled level of expertise and training in the discipline of spinal surgery. His patients benefit not only from his skills as a spinal surgeon, but also from his caring approach. With Dr. McConnell’s strong sub-specialty interests in minimally invasive surgery, Beth Grimm had chosen to see the right doctor for her “second opinion”.
"Beth had a degenerative spondylolisthesis of L5-S1, which means she had severe degeneration of the disc and joints between those two vertebra causing the 5th lumbar vertebrae to slide forward,” shared Dr. McConnell. “The nerve root became entrapped between the vertebrae causing severe leg pain.”
Dr. McConnell also pointed out to Beth that she was an ideal candidate for a one-time minimally invasive surgery that would allow for a much faster recovery.
“Normally, surgery to correct Beth’s condition would require a large incision from the back, a laminectomy to directly decompress the nerves, placement of screws and rods, plus a spinal fusion, but this is a very invasive procedure with a long recovery,” stated Dr. McConnell. “We chose to perform the fusion from a front approach, through the abdomen, to remove the damaged disc, place a spacer between the vertebra to indirectly open the nerve canal and decompress the nerves.”
It was the Monday before Thanksgiving of 2015 when this surgery took place, and Beth hasn’t looked back since.
“I was gradually able to do everything I had not been doing well for the previous several years,” shared Beth. “I continue to experience healing in my nerves and am still regaining pain-free abilities I didn’t think would ever return!”
Beth now has no problems walking or running up and down steps, travels internationally for her job, and can enjoy life’s little pleasures once again. For that, she is truly grateful to Dr. McConnell and OAA’s Spine Center of Excellence.
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The Official Team Physicians of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.