After eight decades of meeting and beating life’s challenges – including polio – Bev Wilson was not about to accept there was nothing but more pain medications to ease her crippling back pain.
“It had been coming on for years and reached the point it was constant, like a bad headache,” she said. “It became excruciating if I bent down, or turned my body to do the most mundane things.”
Shopping was almost unbearable, and she had to hire someone to clean her home.
“I couldn’t stand or sit for extended periods of time,” she said. “I couldn’t even play cards with friends.”
Wilson would not give up.
“I had done a lot of research. I knew there had to be a way to fix my problems,” she said.
She had degenerative vertebral collapse, severe disc degeneration, post-laminectomy syndrome and scoliosis. She asked her doctor for a referral to a spine surgeon, but the surgeon turned her down.
Then her positive attitude, mental strength and determination really kicked in. She said she would not go down without a fight. Because of family statistics, Wilson knew the odds were, she had a lot longer to live and she did not want to exist for years in pain or in an opiate stupor with limited abilities. She asked for another referral.
Harvinder Bedi, M.D., agreed to do Wilson’s surgery, but only at Abrazo Arrowhead Campus in Glendale, the first hospital in Arizona to use the Renaissance Guidance System.
“I just kept telling Dr. Bedi how I felt that I accepted the risks,” she said. “He told me he wouldn’t be able to do my surgery without the new navigation system.”
Bedi, a board-certified spine surgeon, explained the smartphone-sized robotic-guided 3D technology offered the surgical precision her age and condition needed. Using minimally invasive techniques, and with robotic-assistance, Bedi said he was able to perform Wilson’s surgery with minimal blood loss, no ICU stay, and a shorter hospitalization than would have been required if she had traditional surgery.
Wilson had surgery in December 2016, followed by a month of rehab and six weeks of physical therapy.
“Dr. Bedi told me my recovery would not be easy,” Wilson said. “But I’m tenacious.”
She got a stationary bike and pushed herself to do all the exercises prescribed – and more. It made all the difference.
“I feel really good. I am leading a much better life,” she said.
Five months after surgery, she flew by herself to Washington State – “with no assistance; no wheelchair, no walker and no cane” – to visit family and attend her granddaughter’s wedding, where she surprised the bride during the rehearsal dinner by reading a special poem she wrote for the occasion.
Now she is back selling homes in the Sun City area, playing cards with friends and taking care of herself.
She wants people to know they can overcome obstacles.
“Attitude is important for healing,” she said. “Age is no reason to lose hope.”
Approximately 31 million Americans suffer from chronic back issues that limit their ability to live life to the fullest. Robotic technology is a new era in spine surgery the same way laparoscopies transformed general surgery in the 1990s.
Back pain is the single-leading cause of disability and one of the most common reasons for missed work.