Surgery to Remove Mass on Spine

In 1999, I had a tingling in my lower back. This went on for a couple weeks and I finally went to see my primary care doctor. I told him about my symptoms, and he sent me for x-rays, treated me for pulled muscles (prescribed muscle relaxers and the application of heat), and recommended I see him again in two weeks. By my second visit there was no change, so the doctor prescribed inflammation pills and asked me to make another appointment. Two more weeks passed, and there was still no change in my condition.

I was working at a hospital as a CNA and that’s how I met Dr. Moreno. I asked if I could speak to him regarding my back problems and he said yes. I explained my symptoms, which by this time included numbness in my lower back, and weakness in the legs. The numbness seemed to be spreading lower. Dr. Moreno set me up with an appointment at his office within a few days. He sent me for a CAT scan and an MRI. He also told me to come back in a few weeks when the x-rays were done.

When I returned for my second visit, I could tell by the look on Dr. Moreno’s face that something was wrong. He told me I had a huge mass on my spine and I would have to have surgery as soon as possible. If I didn’t, I would end up paralyzed. He asked me to see a neurosurgeon for a second opinion. The neurosurgeon confirmed Dr. Moreno’s diagnosis and plan of treatment. Dr. Moreno scheduled my first surgery in a week.

During the first surgery, I was supposed to have metal rods, etc. put in, but I had lost too much blood so this wasn’t done. My recovery went well, but then things went downhill. I had my spine reconstructed a few times, and had old rods replaced with new, extended rods. The problems with my back made it impossible for me to stand upright. By 2005 I was so bent over that I had to hold on to something in order to walk. I could not look up to the sky, I did not have good balance and my legs were weak.

I fell and cracked both rods in my back and needed additional treatment. At this point, Dr. Moreno said he could get me straight—maybe not 100% straight, but a lot straighter than I was. Dr. Moreno performed two separate surgeries in February and March. I was in a lot of pain, and I thought to give up, but Dr. Moreno wouldn’t let me. With his support and the support of my family, I made it through.

After this last round of surgeries, I can finally look up and the sun and moon without holding on to something. As far as I’m concerned, Dr. Moreno is my hero. If it wasn’t for him, I would not be walking and would not be able to look up at the sky. I am very grateful to Dr. Moreno and all that he has done for me.

If you are considering spinal surgery, if you have not found a surgeon, I highly recommend Dr. Moreno.

P.S. If you smoke, please quit. It slows the healing process!

I.G., Florida