Low back and leg pain is a condition that can be unbearable and life altering for many who suffer from it. Relationships, jobs, careers, health, and happiness have all been stolen from people who have dealt with serious low back or leg pain. 

I hate to say it but the best example I can think of would be my Uncle Gary. Technically, Gary wasn’t my Uncle. Gary was my Dad’s cousin. We just called him Uncle Gary. 

“Uncle Gary” was always us boys (myself, John, and Britt) favorite uncle. You see, Gary had an Atari. Every August, we would travel from Arkansas to Houston, Texas to visit family on our annual vacation. 

We couldn’t wait to get to Uncle Gary’s house. Our favorite game was called “Kaboom”. It’s really funny when you think about it. An Atari with a game called Kaboom made Gary the coolest guy on planet Earth. 

The sad part of the story is that Gary suffered from tremendous back and leg pain for years. He eventually had multiple back fusion surgeries and really suffered afterwards. He was always in severe pain and couldn’t really do much of anything. 

Gary couldn’t work. He had a wife and 2 little kids. He couldn’t play with them like Dad’s do with their children. He couldn’t be the husband that he wanted to be. He couldn’t even go outside unless it was to a Drs. appointment. Like I said, he couldn’t really do much at all.  

Uncle Gary had a hospital bed in his living room that he laid in all of the time. I was young but I don’t remember ever seeing Gary out of his bed. My Dad would sit and visit Gary in his living room every time we went to Texas. 

I don’t really think that it was the driving force behind why I became so passionate about helping people avoid the risks of back and neck surgeries. Actually, I just thought about Gary as I was writing this article.

I meet so many people that wish that they hadn’t had neck or back surgery. I meet them every day I go into my office. They all have their stories. They all say that they wish they had known about me before they had surgery. 

I actually have a patient named Patrick who had 3 back surgeries before coming to see me. Patrick had a spinal fusion surgery. A few years later, he went in to have another level fused because he was having severe back and leg pain. 

During the second surgery, the surgeon nicked his spinal cord with the scalpel and Gary’s cerebral spinal fluid leaked out and caused him to have “the worst headache imaginable” and he went into a coma. He was hospitalized and a third surgery was done to repair the damage from the second surgery that caused the nick. 

The really cool part is that Patrick was white water kayaking 2 weeks after beginning my treatment program. He couldn’t do anything for 2 years. I told him to be careful and that I wouldn’t advise it, but he felt so good he said that he had to take advantage of his new and improved health. 

I tell people all of the time that I wouldn’t wish surgery on a dog. Yes, sometimes it’s necessary but in my experience, most of the time it is completely unnecessary to go under anesthesia. The risks are too great. The risk of getting an infection, paralysis, permanent nerve damage, and death are very real. 

This is 2018! Gary had his surgeries approximately 40 years ago. You would think that back and neck surgery would have improved so much by now that it would be wonderful for most people who do it, but it isn’t. 

There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t meet someone who has had failed neck or back surgery syndrome (yes, there is a name for it). It’s really tuff when someone comes in and tells me that they have had multiple failed surgeries and they want me to pick up the pieces. 

I like a good challenge and it’s true that my program has helped countless patients get their quality of life back even after they have suffered from several neck and back surgeries. 

I treated a woman named Penny who had 7 failed neck surgeries. She had multiple fusions in her neck and was in agonizing pain every minute of the day. On her last day of treatments in my clinic, she gave me a hug and thanked me because she could wipe her rear end again. 

I realize that it is a crude example but it’s true. People need to hear the message that I’m putting out there. Neck and back surgery can have serious side effects that can be completely life altering. 

Recently, I consulted with a woman who had neck surgery. She got a staph infection and the end result was that she developed a really hard vertical scar on the back of her neck. The scar was about an inch and a half long and looked like the webbing on a ducks foot. 

She explained to me how it would tug on her scalp when she would look up or down or side to side and was very painful. She said it caused her to have a lot of headaches.

I consulted with a gentleman on December 12, 2017. He had a back surgery on June 8, 2017. He developed an infection from the surgery and between June 8, 2017 and December 12, 2017, he had 11 low back surgeries. He was scheduled for the 12th when he came in to meet with me. 

Like I said, this is 2018. Don’t you think we can do better than this? I believe that God put body parts in us that weren’t meant to be taken out unless an extreme, life threatening emergency occurs. 

Okay, I realize that I got side tracked, but you can tell I’m very serious about this topic. People don’t get to meet or treat the patients that I work with. They don’t know the horror stories that I and my staff hear on a daily basis. I’ve been in practice for over 15 years and it’s still the same: one horror story after another. 

Back to Gary… I remember when my Dad got the call to tell him that Gary’s house had burned down and that the firemen found Gary inside the front door of his house. You see, Gary was a chain smoker. 

He smoked cigarettes all day long in his bed. I am bigtime anti-cigarette smoking. However, how could you really blame Gary for smoking? His entire quality of life was gone. He was doped up on heavy prescription medications. He was miserable. He had no life.

Gary accidently set his bed on fire with one of his cigarettes and couldn’t walk to get out of his house. He couldn’t walk. So he pulled himself with his elbows to just inside of his front door where he burned to death in the fire.

I’m proud of the work that I do in my clinic. I’m grateful and humbled by the fact that my treatments help so many people that have suffered for so long. Even this many years in, I still get goosebumps when a patient tells me that they were able to sleep through the night or go to church again and sit in the hard pews or go to their grandchild’s ball game. 

Quality of life is number 1 in my book. You can’t get back lost time. When one minute is gone, you don’t get it back. 

When someone is in chronic pain, they can’t enjoy what would be “normal” for most people. Some people try to tuff it out, but what good is that? “Toughing it out” just means more lost quality time. 

You can’t have fun and truly be yourself when you are suffering. Everyone around you is affected in one way or another. Laughter, love, family, traveling, Thanksgiving, Christmas, vacation…

What is all of that worth? I say it’s immeasurable. When you are on your death bed, do you think that you will want more money? What would you want more of? Time.

Would you want quality time where you can enjoy the days, months and years that you have left or would you want to be bed ridden like Uncle Gary?  

I realize that this is a sad article. But, it’s a story that needs to be told. Maybe, Gary’s story can help you or someone you love make the decision to not go under the knife. 

Health is Happiness,

Dr. Keith Currie

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