Minimally invasive surgery greatly impacts man’s quality of life: “I’m amazed.”

Minimally invasive surgery greatly impacts man’s quality of life: “I’m amazed.”

Back pain can be a common problem; however, if left untreated, it can become debilitating.

John Cooling, 62, was treated for severe back and right leg pain at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., earlier this year. After suffering from pain for quite some time, he woke up one day and couldn’t get out of bed.

“I woke up that morning and was in an incredible amount of pain, like nothing I had ever experienced before. My right leg was useless. I couldn’t walk,” says Cooling. “I was very worried that this could be my new normal.”

After a visit to his primary care physician, he was referred to Dr. Egon Doppenberg, a neurosurgeon at Good Samaritan Hospital.

“Dr. Doppenberg reviewed my MRI and other tests. He told me I had two options: injections to dull the pain or back surgery. He explained that I had suffered a significant injury that simply wouldn’t fix itself,” says Cooling.

The very next day, Cooling was in surgery.

“Mr. Cooling had a rather straightforward, minimally invasive microdiscectomy, which usually takes less than an hour,” says Dr. Doppenberg. “This proves that sometimes small surgeries can make a tremendous impact on a patient’s quality of life.”

Hours following the surgery, Cooling was up and walking the hospital unit hallways “virtually without any pain.”

Within weeks, Cooling was back to his normal routine.

“I’m amazed at how easy the process was and how quickly I recovered,” says Cooling. “The results are just phenomenal. I feel great.”

Editor’s note: John Cooling and his son, Adam, participated in the Chicago Bears flag ceremony Sept. 10. This once-in-a-lifetime experience was sponsored by Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital and Advocate Health Care.

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  1. Good information

  2. Hopefully this minimally invasive surgery helps back pain

  3. Although Mr. Cooling had great results with his minimally invasive microdisectomy, patients must be aware that the human body, although mechanical in nature is not created equal. Every patient is different. Take the example of Golden State Warriors Head coach, Steve Kerr. He experienced a spinal fluid leak due to a puncture in the dura membrane and meninges. His story here:

    In addition, because every BODY is different, there are many conditions that can contribute to back and residual nerve pain, so you have to be careful to get multiple opinions before you proceed with surgery. I sought the counsel of a orthopedic doc first who diagnosed me with congenital lumbar canal and foraminal stenosis; did PT, injections and chiropractics which moderately helped, then sought the opinion of a neurosurgeon prior to my surgery. In the end, I was able to avoid surgery on disc L5-S1. But years later I blew another disc at L4-L5 which required surgery with 3 weeks of the injury because chiropractics, injections, and PT did not help and actuallly made the herniation worse. My second injury was so severe that there was no other option than to perform a laminectomy and microdiscectomy. Had I not gone through with the surgery, I would have had permanent nerve damage known as cauda-equina syndrome; permanent pelvic organ dysfunction or failure and possible paralysis of the legs. My condition was congenital and diagnosed at age 36 with surgery by age 42.

    Mr Cooling was fortunate that he was a candidate for an outpatient microdisectomy, and that his dura membrane was not damaged like Coach Kerr. The laminectomy I had was much more invasive and put me out of work for 8 weeks with no manual labor; including lifting items greater than a gallon of milk was forbidden for 12 weeks.

    In short, my point is that every patient is different and must carefully weigh all options before proceeding with surgery. I caution anyone that asks me about surgery to heed the warnings and signals their body gives them and seek the advice of their doctor(s) sooner than later.

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About the Author

Johnna Kelly
Johnna Kelly

Johnna Kelly, healthe news contributor, is a manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She is a former newspaper reporter and spent nearly 10 years as a public relations professional working for state and county government. During her time as a communications staffer for the Illinois General Assembly, she was integral in drafting and passing legislation creating Andrea's Law, the nation's first murderer registry. In her spare time, she volunteers at a local homeless shelter, enjoys traveling, photography and watching the Chicago Bulls.