Patient: Elizabeth Cabeen
Condition: TLIF L4-5 (Spinal Fusion)
It was November 29th, 2011, I started my day like I would most days, but it would turn out not to be your typical day. I had gone outside to smoke a cigarette, walked back in, sat down to put on my socks and I felt a pop. It wasn’t painful at first, just a slight pull. I got up and walked in the kitchen and all of a sudden I felt horrible pain come over me. I thought I could just walk it off, so I grabbed some aspirin, but as I walked, the pain became unbearable. I still had to go to work, so I drove myself into the office, but the pain was so bad I could barely walk into work once I got there. I tried to stretch it out, but nothing. It just wouldn’t let up. I never call in sick or leave work for anything, but I lasted only 20 minutes before I had to tell my supervisor I was leaving. I managed to get myself back to my car, but the drive back home was miserable.
On the way home, I stopped at Care Now to see if they could figure out what was going on with me, but I had to wait for 4 hours in excruciating pain until they could fit me in. I couldn’t even stand to take x-rays because I had lost all feeling in my right side. The Care Now doctor diagnosed me with Sciatica and put me on pain killers. I took those for five days with no relief and pain that I can’t even describe. I returned to Care Now on December 4th since the pain killers they put me on weren’t working and a different doctor there tried to send me to physical therapy. I didn’t understand why they would try to send me to physical therapy when I hadn’t even gone to get an MRI…they didn’t even know what was going on with my back, nor did it seem like they cared. I demanded they send me for an MRI, so they gave me an order for one and sent me to this particular facility. I went the following Tuesday for my MRI.
I had to return to Care Now on Thursday to get my results and once again, saw another doctor. This doctor knew what he was talking about. He immediately read my MRI report and told me that I needed to get into a spine doctor the next day or go to the emergency room. As you can imagine, at this time, I’m feeling an overwhelming fear that I have never experienced before. I have severe pain that won’t go away, I’ve lost feeling in my right side, and now I’m being told I have a severe herniated disc that needs immediate attention by a spine specialist. We left Care Now with a ton of anxiety, but knew that we had to start making calls as soon as we got up Friday morning. /
The next morning, I contacted my aunt who works for a hospital and she told me it was a waste of time to go to the emergency room because no hospital near us would have a spine surgeon on call over the weekend, so my husband started scouring the internet for spine specialists. My husband came across Dr. Won and called to see if we could get in that day, but Dr. Won was in surgery and there weren’t any open appointments until Monday. Angela recommended that my husband continue to call around, but that she would schedule us anyways, in the event we were unable to secure an earlier appointment. We were told we could be squeezed in at 1pm with his physician’s assistant, Jason, so we took the appointment. We continued to call around to see if we could get in anywhere else sooner, but we didn’t have any luck. I knew I would just have to suffer through the weekend until my appointment on Monday.
Monday came and it couldn’t come any sooner. We got to the office and we were greeted by a young lady at the front desk that registered us. We waited a short period of time until we were led back for our appointment. Dr. Won’s medical assistant came in to meet us and do our workup before sending me over for x-rays. Apparently, Care Now didn’t send over all the x-rays they took, so I had to get an additional 4 x-rays, while still in horrible pain. I couldn’t even get up off the table. Joe, the x-ray technician, rushed over to assist me and help me get off the table. I waited anxiously for Jason to come in and tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly. Unfortunately, he couldn’t tell me much. The MRI facility Care Now sent me to didn’t do a clear scan on me, so Jason couldn’t see what all was going on in my back. We had to be scheduled for another MRI at Dr. Won’s Dallas facility the next morning before coming back to see Dr. Won. Fortunately, Jason was able to tell us how bad the herniation was on the x-ray.
Tuesday morning, we arrived at the Dallas location and had my new MRI. I didn’t know different MRI facilities can produce different grades of scans, but I do now. I waited for a few minutes and then was led back to wait nervously for our results. I was sitting in the exam room when I heard a woman say to Dr. Won how wonderful he was and how much he had helped her. I knew right then, I was in the right place with the right doctor. All my fears went away. Dr. Won came in and told us our options. There wasn’t really an option. I needed surgery and this is what he will have to do to fix my back and take away my pain. I have known people who have had back surgery before and they always said “never get back surgery because you will not have just one”. I knew I had no choice, but to have surgery. I scheduled it for that Friday.
I can honestly say that I never imagined I would feel so good, so fast. I woke up in the hospital pain free. I didn’t even use my morphine pump. I had this tiny incision where I feared I’d have a huge scar. For the first time in two and a half weeks, I was pain free. I am only a few weeks out and can walk and function like I did prior to November 29th. I am only taking a few aspirin a day. I have some restrictions, but over time I know I will be back to normal. My experience with Dr. Won and his staff was wonderful and I can’t thank him enough for what he did for me.