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The Right Word

Posted on October 4, 2018 in Dr. Joel Norman

Stacey Wa;ters spineAnswer to pain was found in editor’s work

Stacey Walters went looking for a neurosurgeon to do her neck surgery. She found him in the “patient testimonial” articles she edits for Covenant Health.

Patient comments in those articles about Joel Norman, MD, a board-certified neurosurgeon at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, along with his outstanding quality measures and infection ratings, helped Walters determine he would be an excellent surgeon to fuse her bulging C5-6 and herniated C6-7 discs.

Today, she too is singing Dr. Norman’s praises following her anterior cervical fusion last November.

“Over Memorial Day weekend, I lifted, moved and spread 30 bags of mulch, and I’m back to exercising again. It’s a complete return to how life should be!” she said. “I am so grateful surgeries like this exist because, a hundred years ago, I would be living with this pain the rest of my life, and that is no way to live.”

Walters, director of marketing and physician services for Covenant Health, had awakened with pain in her shoulder blade while vacationing last July. While it stopped hurting after returning home, it soon returned with pain radiating down her left, then her right arms. She was unable to grasp objects and her fingertips were numb.

She tried massages and physical therapy, but relief was only temporary.

Her primary care doctor suspected cervical disc issues, and ordered x-rays which confirmed her diagnosis. She then ordered an MRI and set up an appointment with Dr. Norman, the neurosurgeon whom Walters had read so much about.

Dr. Norman did, indeed, recommend surgery. But as he began describing the process, to her surprise, Walters hesitated.

“I just needed some time to process it and figure out how I would manage my work and family obligations while recuperating from surgery,” she said. “My husband and I talked about it on the way home and I called Dr. Norman’s office that morning to schedule the surgery.”

She’s glad she did.

“I remember waking up in the recovery room with the biggest ear-to-ear grin,” she said. “It was just elation and joy of waking up without pain.”

Walters stayed overnight at Fort Sanders Regional and speaks highly of the care she received while there. “Everyone was so kind, not just to me, but to my husband as well. They took great care of us.”