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Jennifer’s story: Spinal fusion delivers 'freedom to live my life'

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No need to suffer with back pain

Jennifer Parins suffered with debilitating back pain for years.

Her pain made it difficult to walk, difficult to stand and even difficult to shower. For years she was unable to walk her greyhound, Ginger.

“My social life, my personal life, and my professional life (were) very limited because of the pain,” says Jennifer, who is in her early 50s. “The limitations became a lot more severe as time progressed. My quality of life was so negatively affected that I knew I needed to do something.”

Jennifer was referred to BayCare Clinic Neurological Surgeons and Dr. Jack Leschke.

“I am so fortunate that his name was the one matched with mine. He has been an amazing physician and just a support for me through this entire process. The entire team was amazing,” Jennifer says. They listened to me. Right from the beginning they assured me they were going to do their best to help and that this was not something I should have to live with.”

Spinal fusion alleviates Jennifer’s back pain

Once they reviewed her case, Leschke recommended a spinal fusion to help Jennifer with her back pain.

“I was extremely nervous about surgery,” Jennifer says. “Specifically, about fusion. I knew that was a big extensive surgery. I knew that was going to be a difficult thing.”

Many people she knew had a negative opinion about back surgery too, she says.

“They would say, ‘Oh, you don’t want to do that; that’s horrible, you’re going to have troubles and it’s only going to make things worse…’”, Jennifer says.

Her fears, according to Leschke, are not uncommon. Many people have misconceptions about what surgery might entail.

He quickly reassured her.

“Advancements in technology have been focused on patient outcomes, decreasing tissue damage and decreasing surgical stress,” he says.

Leschke has a special interest in minimally invasive surgical techniques that seek to accomplish the same outcomes as more traditional surgeries but in ways that make recovery easier for many people.

“I trusted Dr. Leschke and I trusted his team,” Jennifer says. “This is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself; I truly believe that.”

Jennifer had surgery for a spinal fusion in early September 2022. Two months later, she was back at work fulltime.

She no longer needs to use the elevator; she has no trouble getting around and she can even stop and talk to people without needing to find a place to sit down.

What’s most important for Jennifer? She’s now able to walk her dog, Ginger, for miles without pain.

“It feels so wonderful. I have seen such a dramatic difference in my life,” Jennifer says. “I feel like one of the most fortunate people alive today because of this surgery and because of Dr. Leschke and his team.”

Published: Monday, March 27, 2023
Author: Alysha Schertz