Chuck: Smiling Pain Free
Can I see another’s woe, and not be in sorry, too?
Can I see another’s grief, and not seek for kind relief?
— William Blake
For 30 years I have been the morning meteorologist at WTHR-TV in Indianapolis, Indiana. For more than 12 of those years, I have suffered periods of severe neck and back pain. Part of my job at the NBC affiliate in Indy is to give people the forecast and the hour-by-hour look at changing weather, but to also hopefully, put a smile on their faces as they head out the door. Putting a smile on my own face was sometimes very difficult because I was smiling through pain that shot down my back, neck, and even legs.
My story began more than a decade ago. At a doctor visit, for an unrelated ailment, I found it difficult to hop on the table for my exam. Through gritted teeth and beads of sweat on my forehead, I managed to half crawl my way on top of the table. The doctor, a former physician for the Indiana Pacers NBA franchise and a former college athlete, immediately ordered up a set of x-rays. After analyzing them, he sent me to Dr. Rick Sasso of the Indiana Spine Group, a renowned physician and a Spinal Research Foundation Spinal Hero.
Treatment & Recovery
Not wanting an operation if unnecessary, I spent the next few years with various treatments, from medication to physical therapy. All of these approaches brought some form of relief, but sadly the relief wasn’t long lasting. The pain would eventually return, with my forced smiles on television presenting the weather becoming more common.
Eventually the pain episodes came closer and closer together. Sitting in a car driving home from work meant adjusting and readjusting my seat trying to find a position that would provide some form of relief. Eventually, the day came when a serious decision had to be made. In January of 2014, Dr. Sasso saw me and diagnosed an L5 lumbar radiculopathy. We quickly scheduled a surgery and not soon after, he performed a laminectomy at L4/L5.
The healing and pain relief wasn’t immediate, but it was gradual and it was…real! Since the healing took place I’ve been able to work out, ride my bike, and do my job without the wincing pain that had so often been part of my life the past decade. The words“kind relief”are an important part of William Blake’s prose at the beginning of my story. Those words also describe Dr. Sasso and his talented staff. From treatment to surgery, to recovery to follow-up, kind relief was shown to me by Dr. Sasso and the folks who work with him. Their genuine concern for my problem and the professional attitude they have displayed down this long road have been real, personal, and so appreciated.
I have a better quality of life now. The constant pain is gone. I am a spinal champion, but it’s because of the folks at the Indiana Spine Group who God has blessed with the ability to show “kind relief.”