Spine Surgery Gets Active Grandmother Back on Track from Life-Limiting Back Pain

Norwalk Hospital

Caring for people has always been a vital part of Linda Soto’s inspired lifestyle. The 70-year-old Carmel, New York resident and a retired pediatric nurse, is single-minded and focused when it comes to caring for others, especially her precious family.

A veteran of two knee replacements, Soto began experiencing life-limiting pain one year-ago from spinal stenosis, a common condition that’s usually caused by osteoarthritis or “wear and tear” arthritis combined with scoliosis. “The pain would be unbearable at times,” said Soto.  “If I waited in line at a department store for more than a few minutes, I just couldn’t do it; I had to sit down,” added Soto. “I did fairly well grocery shopping because I was able to lean forward using the shopping cart and that provided some relief.”   

Statistics indicate that 80 percent of adults will experience back pain at some point in their lifetimes.  People usually seek help when their back pain starts interfering with their quality of life because of the severity of the pain and the duration of symptoms. 

“I was living with chronic pain for far too long,” said Soto. “The time had come. I absolutely needed to do something about it,” added Soto. “I want to take my grandkids to the park and play with them. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines and watch.” 

When the Soto’s went to see an orthopedic surgeon in Manhattan, it turns out he was not able to offer a solution. He simply said surgery was not an option because there were too many issues going on at the same time: osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis and scoliosis. “I was shocked to learn that in this day and age nothing could be done to help me,” said Soto. “Then, I outright asked what do you want me to do? Sadly, I didn’t get a response.”

Soto was only 69-years-old at the time and unable to accept the fact she had to live with the chronic pain.  Feeling frustrated, she called the orthopedic knee surgeon who successfully performed her total knee replacements four-and-a-half-years ago, and was referred to Danbury Hospital spine specialist Dr. Frank Hermantin. She then scheduled an appointment to see him.

After the examination and consultation with Dr. Hermantin, my husband and I were relieved to learn that spine surgery was, in his exact words ‘doable,’” said Soto. “He was direct and honest when he explained the possible risks as well as the benefits. He didn’t sugar coat anything and I respect that,” added Soto.  “He clarified the two important things he was going to do; open the stenosis and stabilize the lower spine.”

“Linda’s condition came with other medical comorbidities that did make her a high risk surgical candidate,” said Dr. Hermantin. “I was confident that our spine service which includes dedicated OR staff, specially trained floor nurses and therapists would go a long way in leading to the desired outcome.” Dr. Hermantin added, “The other major factor that encouraged me to offer her the surgery was Linda’s desire to succeed and maintain her quality of life.”

“My spine surgery took place at Danbury Hospital on May 18, 2015. Dr. Hermantin scheduled the operating room for seven hours, but it only took four hours from start to finish,” noted Soto. “After the surgery, he was very pleased with the results and said that everything went well and without any problems.”

 

Soto was admitted to the Hospital and physical therapy started the very next day. “I was absolutely amazed that when I put my left foot down on the floor or walked down the hall I didn’t feel any pain. I couldn’t stop smiling.”

The very next day Soto was capable of walking up and down the stairs in the physical therapy room with no more pain. “It was just absolutely astonishing,” said Soto.

Four day later, Soto was doing so well she was discharged from the Hospital with post-surgical instructions of no lifting anything over 10 lbs. and absolutely no bending. At home, Soto was delighted she could lie on her back and sleep on her left side. At-home physical therapy started and six weeks later, she was on an intensive physical therapy regimen twice a week.

“Dr. Hermantin is also pleased with the results of my spine surgery, added Soto. “And my scar is almost gone.”

“I wake up happy every day now because I know I can do what I want,” said Soto. “I feel wonderful,” added Soto. “I can take my grandkids to the park and go for walks with my husband. It’s life-changing and amazing.” 

About The Center for Advanced Orthopedic and Spine Care

Danbury Hospital ranks among Connecticut’s top hospitals for total number of spine surgeries per year. The Spine Program at Danbury Hospital is among the most comprehensive spine programs in the state, with top neurosurgeons, orthopedic spine surgeons, anesthesiologists, pain management specialists, and a multi-disciplinary team working together to create a superior continuum of care.  A Joint Commission Center of Excellence in spine surgery, Danbury Hospital recently earned The Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval and certification renewal for its spine surgery program.

About Western Connecticut Health Network

Western Connecticut Health Network is the region's premier, patient-centered health care organization serving residents of Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. The organization, which is now anchored by three nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital and Norwalk Hospital, as well as their affiliated organizations. In addition to the three hospitals, the continuum of care offered includes Western Connecticut Medical Group, an integrated physician practice offering primary and subspecialty care across the region, Western Connecticut Home Care, an agency for home health care services, the nationally renowned Western Connecticut Health Network Biomedical Research Institute, the Western Connecticut Health Network Foundation, the Norwalk Hospital Foundation, and other affiliates. For more information, visit TheNewWCHN.org. Share your comments with us at Facebook.com/DanburyHospital; Facebook.com/NewMilfordHospital and/or Facebook.com/NorwalkHospital.