Putting dishes on the table was becoming impossible for Lynda Pascone of Southbury. Only 30, the emergency medical technician had suffered a herniated disc when she stopped a patient aboard a six-foot stretcher from sliding down an incline. The physically demanding job and two pregnancies caused the pain to worsen. "I noticed that my back wasn't keeping up with me," remembers Pascone, a mother of two. "I would do my 8 hours of work then come home and need to be flat out in bed. I wasn't taking care of my kids anymore." By the young age of 41, Pascone knew she had to take drastic measures to solve her sciatic injuries and spinal stenosis to improve her quality of life.
"I would fall getting groceries out of the car because of the instability, it would pinch and make my legs buckle," says Pascone, who tried medicines, injections, therapies, even a brace from her neck to waist, to strengthen the muscles that support her spine. Concerned that her husband, a civilian police officer and Navy reservist, would be deployed, leaving her to handle the household alone, Pascone decided to go through a 9-hour procedure involving her vertebrae. "She had small screws and rods put in to stabilize the spine and then actual plastic cages that were filled with bone put in where the discs were," says Dr. Frank Hermantin of Danbury Hospital's Center for Advanced Orthopedic and Spine Care, noting that Pascone's recovery was key. "She was a perfect candidate. She was highly motivated." Almost immediately, she felt relief.
Hermantin says negative perceptions of spinal surgeries are outdated and patients shouldn't be afraid of the procedures, now involving less risk of nerve damage: "I think it does help a large number of people and it does give them their lives back because they don't have to limit their activities." Pascone, now an assistant in a doctor's office, hopes to be an inspiration to others: "Don't be afraid to push and make sure your doctor understands. Make sure they listen to you because not every back injury is exactly the same."
Pascone's husband is currently serving overseas in Africa. But, even through the grueling winter, she could handle the everyday workload. "I was able to keep up with the yard and the snow," she says, adding that she also had a lot of fun with her kids, now 11 and 15. "My goal was one year after (surgery) I was going to ski. And, I did!" This mom is incredibly grateful for her new back. "It changed my life," she says, with a smile. "I'm rarin' to go again!"
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