Back in the Saddle: Bobbi Giudicelli’s Journey with Spondylolisthesis

Rita: Hi everyone. My name is Dr. Rita Roy, CEO, at the National Spine Health Foundation, and I’m your host for the Get Back to It Podcast where we tell real stories of healing and recovery. What does it mean to get back to it? It means overcoming spine problems through treatments that work in order to return to the people and activities you love.
Whatever that looks like for you. It means getting back to your life. We’re here to share the success stories of those who did just that and some of these stories. You’re not going to believe.

At the Get Back to It podcast, our goal is to tell stories of spinal champions who’ve been able to achieve a better quality of life through spinal healthcare. In today’s episode, I’m delighted to be speaking with Bobbi, a spinal champion who had low back pain for most of her adult life and was eventually diagnosed with spondylothesis, which required surgical intervention.

Bobbi is an entrepreneur who is passionate about nutrition and has always been very active at 67 years young and after three surgeries, she continues to enjoy all the activities she loves with no limitations. Now that you know what to expect, let’s get back to it and dive right into Bobbi’s story.

Bobbi has been enjoying an active lifestyle her whole life. She’s also had back pain her whole life, and in her younger years, assumed everyone had some back pain after doing an activity, which required being on their feet for a certain length of time.

Bobbi: One of my favorite activities was playing tennis.When I started playing in my early thirties, I noticed that my back pain was becoming much more of a challenge, especially after being on the court for a couple of hours. I played through it, but the pain kept getting worse, going down my legs, and it became debilitating. I decided to get evaluated by a spine specialist.

Rita: Bobbi’s pain got to the point where she needed to be proactive, so she rightly decided to be evaluated by a physician.

Bobbi: The diagnosis was Spondylolisthesis, instability of the spinal column. My L4 vertebrae was slipping over the L5 below, which was severely pinching the spinal nerves. My doctor kept my pain under control for a few years with spinal epidural injections and physical therapy.

Rita: Over time, however, the deterioration in Bobbi’s lower back was too severe and Bobbi’s doctor recommended surgery.

Bobbi: My doctor performed a spinal fusion at Level L4 L5, taking pressure off my nerves, and the results were immediately noticeable. I made a rapid recovery and within three months I was walking five miles.

Rita: Bobbi made a full recovery in six months and was back to living her active lifestyle until, she was in a car accident which injured her neck.

Bobbi: I was struck by a driver who ran a red light and I really hurt my neck, so I made an appointment with my spine doctor to get it checked out.

Rita: The imaging had revealed a herniated cervical disc that was compressing her spinal nerve and causing neck and arm pain.

Bobbi: I had to have a cervical fusion at C1 C2, which was performed as an outpatient, so I was able to recover at home. I was quickly able to return to my tennis and other activities until my legs once again gave out.

Rita: Bobbi needed to have a second lumbar spinal fusion, one level above her first one, which her doctor explained was not unusual.

Bobbi: My recovery was even better than the first lumbar surgery. I was up and walking everywhere comfortably in a couple of weeks, and even able to drive myself to my three week post-op appointment three hours each way.
Rita: Over the course of many years, Bobbi needed to have three surgeries on her lower back as her condition advanced up her lumbar spine.

Bobbi: After each surgery, I’ve had about five years of being completely pain free. For the first time in my life, I could be as active as I wanted, enjoying horseback riding, pickleball and cardio workouts. And there was no back pain associated with my activity level.

Rita: Bobbi, your story is incredible because it shows the importance of taking quick action and being persistent. Even though you lived with back pain for most of your life, you never gave up the question finding answers that would ultimately greatly improve your quality of life. I’d like to ask you this kind of simple, but really deep question. What made you so proactive? What was it that you just said, I gotta take care of this, I’ve gotta be proactive about this?

Bobbi: So my whole life, I have been somebody that was miserable when I couldn’t be active, when I couldn’t exercise on a regular basis. I really felt like my mental health was very dependent on being able to do the activities that I loved and, uh, I just wasn’t willing to give it up. And when it was presented to me as the possibility that I could continue pain free to do my normal lifestyle, there was, there was no choice. I had to go for it.

Rita: And Bobbi, you had had the pain for a while and um, ultimately ended up seeing a spine specialist. How did you get to the spine specialist?

Bobbi: I’ve also had a bunch of knee surgeries, all of them related to, uh, sports injury and because I had always, I had seen chiropractors. Frequently because my back pain was so bad. I can’t say it helped a lot, but when it started going down my legs, the uh, chiropractor suggested that it was something that may need to be addressed by surgery.

And it happened and I was seeing the doctor that had treated my knee had done the last surgery on my knee, and I told him that I was having this kind of back pain. And he’s the one that referred me, uh, to the spine surgeon that I, that I ended up seeing. Ironically, it ended up, I didn’t know this when he was recommended to me, but ironically it ended up that I knew his wife personally because we played tennis together.

Rita: Oh my gosh. What a great, you know, great, great story. You know, one of the things we talk a lot about, people ask questions all the time, how do I choose a spine surgeon? How do I choose a spine specialist? And, you know, we, we have canned responses for that question. And those responses include things like make sure you go to a fellowship trained spine expert.

So, you know, either an orthopedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon who’s done fellowship training in spine. Make sure that you go to a spine surgeon who does a lot of spine surgery. And then the third factor is usually, you know, the soft factor of. Decide if you like the person you’re talking to, if you trust them, if you feel good, if you’ve got a good sense of, of their relationship with you because it is a relationship and how lucky for you that you actually knew your surgeon’s wife and, and had a, had a relationship there.That’s, that’s really great. Yeah.

Bobbi: Well, I do. I, I have to tell you, this is just who I am. I’ve had some very bad experiences with doctors in general, and so I am one of the pickiest people. By the time I get to a doctor in my first visit, I have done as thorough a checking out of that doctor as I, I possibly could, because when I look back to the situations where I’ve had bad experiences, I did not check things out, and it was pretty disastrous. I mean, some of them were really, really just unacceptable and destructive. Yeah.

Rita: That’s such a good point. We talk about this all the time, the importance of getting a second opinion, doing your research. You have one spine, right? So you, you wanna get into the hands of a well-trained, knowledgeable surgeon who, who you trust and who you feel good about.

Because again, it’s, it’s a relationship and it’s your spine. And sadly, I think a lot of people can relate to that notion of. Having a bad experience in, in, uh, in healthcare. I personally tore my ACL playing tennis and, you know, didn’t check out who was treating me and it did not go well. And I had a series of other surgeries and ended up with a total knee replacement on a simple ACL.

So I learned my lesson as well. Just, um, put the time in upfront because it will save you in the long run. Right? So,

Bobbi: No question and the other thing is that has been unsettling since I first had my, uh, initial, uh, spine surgery is that I know so many others whose surgeries were not successful. And I know for a fact that my doctor very often saw patients who were not successful with other surgeries that were supposed to be the same as mine. Yeah. And, and it breaks my heart because it doesn’t have to be. And, and there’s, you know, I, I think you’re absolutely right. You have to really check it out.

Rita: Well, and that’s what we are all about here at the National Spine Health Foundation, is getting the information out to the public that you can get a successful treatment or series of treatments in many cases, and you can get back to your life. To your full active life. But you’ve gotta take the right steps to do that and you’ve gotta be your own best advocate, which is exactly what you did, Bobbi. And that’s just so awesome that you’re sharing your story with everybody today cuz it is just so important and it’s hard to do that, you know, that’s the hard thing to do upfront, is to do that research and, and, um, Getting multiple opinions and putting the time in upfront.

So much of the time, we just wanna get it done. We just wanna find an answer, get it done, and don’t do that with your spine.

Bobbi: One. One of the things that I loved about the doctor that I used was it wasn’t like, okay, let’s do surgery right now. He took me through the steps of other ways to treat my pain and discomfort, and I so appreciated that, and I know a lot of people who have gone into the surgeon’s office and the first thing they say is, okay, let’s get you booked for surgery. And, you know, that scares me. Yeah. Because there are situations where surgery is not the answer or maybe it’s, it’s, uh, premature. Right. And there are other things that you can try. And this has happened with people that I know with their backs and their knees and their shoulders and everything.

And it is, it sets bells and whistles off in my mind if I see a doctor and before they really. Give me a full explanation and evaluation. If they say surgery’s the answer before any discussion, I’m out the door, I’m gone.

Rita: Bobbi, I am so glad you brought that up. That was gonna be my next question to you is that when you first, so we, we talked about, you know, how did you end up with a spine specialist? A spine surgeon? And so thank you for sharing that part of your story, how you got there, cuz it’s important to find a good one and to get there. And then the second thing that I was going to ask you is you said that you were first treated with a series of epidural injections and that. That was sort of working for a while until it stopped working.

And so you bring up the point that a really great spine surgeon is not gonna necessarily say, let’s go to surgery. If there are non-operative treatments that may provide some relief or some, some treatment for you. Uh, cuz back surgery is a big deal. Even the smallest back surgery is a big deal. So I I thank you for bringing that up because our surgeons on our medical and scientific board will say 80% of the time when patients come into their office, they do not go to surgery right away.

So just because you’re showing up at a spine surgeon’s office doesn’t mean that you’re gonna get surgery because that may not be the right first step.

Bobbi: No, absolutely, and and I do have to say I’ve also known a lot of people who have gotten epidurals that did absolutely nothing for them. So when my doctor sent me to the particular, Um, I guess he’s an anesthesiologist who did the, the epidural injections. I would drive three hours to see him as well. Oh my gosh. Cause I wasn’t going to see somebody else. And, you know, I had more success than, than a lot of people I have talked to. And I, I, it’s heartbreaking when I hear their stories because I know it doesn’t have to be that way. Right. I, I, I was in as much pain as anyone else I know, and it was managed appropriately.

Rita: That’s, that is awesome. You know, in each case of your surgeries and you’ve had multiple surgeries, it sounds like you bounced back pretty quickly from those surgeries. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that you’ve been active your whole life. You’ve been. Physically fit. You’ve been in good physical condition.

A lot of times people are are told before they’re gonna have surgery to do something called prehab. So start doing some core strengthening. Start getting into some, you know, exercise before their surgery, even though they’re in pain and they’re about to have surgery. That getting some level of conditioning, you know, body conditioning before surgery improves.

Your outcomes and your ability to recover more quickly. And I’m just, I’m just astounded by your, your quick recoveries bouncing back so quickly from these big operations. Can you talk to me about that?

Bobbi: Yes. So I will tell you yes, even the first one, each one I recovered faster, which seems counterintuitive because each one, I was older, but each one I bounced back faster than the previous one.
And the reason is, That my whole lifestyle around nutrition and how I eat completely changed, um, over the course of those 15, 20 years. And, uh, with each adjustment that I made in my diet, I found that recovery went faster and faster. And the other thing is I am a very driven person. Like, I would only go to a doctor that understood what it is to be a driven athlete.

I’m not a professional athlete, I’m a recreational athlete, but I don’t do things lightly. Mm-hmm. So playing tennis or I’m playing pickleball. I am very competitive out there. And uh, so I will only. Go to a doctor who understands that mindset because the mindset of people like me is the second I can do it, I’m back to it no matter what.

And if that’s what drives me to be, you know, I, I’m like a star patient for the physical therapist, and then I push it a little beyond and then I push it a little beyond. As long as I understand from the doctor and from physical therapists. At what point am I doing damage rather than doing good? Right?

And I take it intellectually, and I hear that, and I embrace that and I draw the line there. I will not do more damage. I won’t undo what the doctor so graciously and, and thankfully did for me. I, I am driven, uh, I’m not somebody that’s gonna miss a day of exercise in my life. Now I have an, I have a gym, a full gym in my house, and I am in the gym.

Every single morning bar none. There is no excuse not to be up there. Um, and I do different levels of workout, but that’s who I am. And getting back to and recovering from. For me is like, that’s my challenge. I’m not allowed to be on the pickleball court, so I am going to take on this new challenge called getting there faster.

Right. And the other reason, the other thing that I think I’m very fortunate is I have developed a very high threshold for pain. Hmm. And um, unfortunately it probably comes from living with the back pain and, uh, for so many years, but I have a very high tolerance for pain. And so, You know, I have surgery.

It’s excruciating for the first 24 hours, and then I just. Deal with it. Yeah. You know, any day that’s a little better than that first day is progress to me. And a very positive thing. Yeah.

Rita: I’m sitting here on this recording and I’m looking at you on the screen. We’re doing this, uh, you know, on a, on a monitor here, and I’m seeing someone who’s like 35 years old and vibrant, beautiful, athletic, healthy, and I cannot believe you’re 67 years old.

And, and I just think that’s a testament to your dedication, to your fitness, to your, your mindset of perseverance and not letting things slow you down. And I just, I just, I just wanna bottle that up and take a big dose of that myself. And I’m just so excited to sharing this on our podcast because that that is exactly what needs to happen.

You’ve got to own. Your journey and you know what? Whatever that looks like, whether it’s get on a stationary bike, take a walk to the mailbox every day, what, whatever it is, you gotta do it. And you’ve gotta be persistent with it. And I think we also have to evaluate what do we want? Right. Like what, what are, what are the things that we want?

And you know, for you, clearly knowing I wanna get back to getting on my horse, getting on my skis, getting on the tennis court, or the pickleball court. I want to get back there. I’m going to get back there. And being in the hands of a highly trained, knowledgeable expert. Gets you there. And so that’s, that’s the moral of the story.

But there’s another part of your story, which you alluded to. So I wanna delve into that a little bit. And that is nutrition. We’ve been talking at the foundation, um, this spring we’re gonna be talking about nutrition and how important that is to your spine health. Um, you know, your back is made up of these 33 bones with.

With, uh, discs in between their bones. So bone health is important. Disc health is important. Things like smoking, damages your discs. People don’t know that. You know, hydration is so important to keeping the, the cushioning of your discs, uh, healthy as as we go through, through time. And then just bone health and nutrition.

So you’ve got this structure that’s supporting everything you do in life and you gotta take care of it. And so yes, being at the appropriate body weight helps your spine stay healthy, but also the things that you eat, uh, help your spine and your entire body stay healthy. And that nutrition journey is something that you’ve discovered and I want, would love for you to share with us today.

Bobbi: Sure. So, uh, my nutrition journey. Started also out of necessity. Um, so that had been something else. I had lived with a very, I can only describe it as a very poor relationship with food. So from a young age, late teens, I did develop eating disorders. I had pretty severe eating disorders. Probably for 16, 17 years.

Rita: Wow.

Bobbi: And I started as anorexia, ended up as bulimia and just my whole world, everything having to do with food was all off. I mean, it was horrible, but I didn’t really suffer from it physically. Until probably starting in my forties, I started experiencing pretty extreme fatigue. Wow. And that went on and on and got worse and worse into my fifties.

Um, and then in my fifties, my sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Of which I became her primary caretaker. Oh. And watched her, I was exhausted because I’m flying coast to coast to take care of her. Mm-hmm. And the, the fatigue got worse. And then other things, other people that I knew were getting sick and I started to say there’s okay, I have to draw the line here.

Rita: And all during this time, you’re managing your back issues?

Bobbi: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And trying to maintain my active lifestyle and my work. I, I’m self-employed, I’m an entrepreneur and you know, so I’m doing all these things and, and your typical doctor would say to me, well, you’re getting old. That’s to be expected.

Mm-hmm. But this was not just being tired. This was fatigue. Like, for example, it really hit me one day when I had come home from the east coast. And I have horses, and the horses are on my property. And every morning I go, you know, down to the other side of my property, feed the horses and come back to the house.
It started to get so bad that I literally couldn’t come back, get back up to the house without taking a break or two. And it’s only a five acre property. We are not talking about going, you know, around the block three times. Mm-hmm. And, uh, I was that fatigued that getting out of bed was a struggle. I mean, I got out of bed to feed the horses. It, it was, I, I just, I couldn’t function and, and so it hit me that nutrition has got to be the answer cuz I’m doing everything else in my life. I am doing right. And there’s nothing I’m willing to give up. Right. And then I looked at my sister’s situation and she did lose her battle with cancer and she ate horribly.

And you know, neither one of us are overweight. We’re not overweight people. Mostly because both of us are active. So it wasn’t a weight issue because I managed not gaining weight because that was like the ultra. You know, importance to me. Yeah. So I started learning about nutrition and boy did I learn. I learned about inflammatory foods. I learned about, I learned about additives in food. I learned about how bad sugar is for us. I learned all about our microbiome and everything that really dictates our immune system and our physical health and our ability to digest food properly. And I mean, I know now. As much as, maybe more than certain

Rita: you could teach a college class now.

Bobbi: yeah, like good. And as, as a result, I wrote a book, a and I also, when I got on this journey, uh, to eat the way that I now eat, which is completely whole food and plant-based, uh, I would say 90% whole food. So I do eat a little bit of. Processed food, but no, you know, I don’t eat foods that have sugar in them.

I don’t eat foods that have bad oils in them. You know, I eat pretty much whole foods and, and all plant-based, so I am vegan and my whole world changed, not just my body, not just all the inflammation in my body. Went away, but my whole world changed and what I referred to about recovering faster with each surgery.

By the time my third, uh, spine surgery, I was gluten-free and plant-based. And I can’t tell you, I mean, the difference of getting up and out and being able to walk around the block. In about seven or eight days. Wow. Was just unbelievable to me. And the pain was so much less. Cause I don’t have inflammation throughout my body.

People don’t know how inflammatory dairy is. People don’t know how inflammatory sugar is. Like your body is reacting to these things. And telling you, you know, stop. Yeah. And we don’t listen. And instead what happens is we become addicted to these foods. Sugar, cheese. Cheese is very addictive. People don’t know that there’s a substance in cheese that behaves like an opioid in your brain.

So cheese is very addictive. It happens in the processing of the cheese. That sugar is very addictive for that same reason. And, and if you were to just eliminate those things out of your body, You would stop craving them and you would feel so much better.

Rita: Wow. And each body reacts to these things in different ways, right? Some more, more so than others. And it’s important to know how your body is, is processing and managing and what its needs are.

Bobbi: No question. No question, but, but I am, you know, I do feel better. You said I look like I’m 35. I’m telling you, physically and energy wise, I feel better at 67 than I did at 40.

Rita: That is awesome.

Bobbi: I can get through my day with hours on the pickleball court, riding my horse, working, whatever. You know, I didn’t. It’s amazing to me. It’s amazing to me.

Rita: You’re just an inspiration, you know, we’ve, we’ve gotta get these messages out to people, right? That’s what we’re trying to do here. And, um, you know, we, we all turn to the internet when we’re looking for information.

And how do you find trusted? Unbiased, vetted sources of information where people are sharing their, their real lived experiences and, and sharing the good news about their, their health journey. You know, that’s what we’re trying to do here at the foundation.

Bobbi: Well, the other problem is, and, and I really need to bring this to light, is that our healthcare system is very oriented to giving a pill, prescribe medication.
So yes, control your cholesterol with medication control, your inflammation with anti-inflammatories, control all of these chronic conditions. That really are a result of the way the standard American diet has become and the big food companies. And I am now an entrepreneur that owns a food company and we produce one of the cleanest products on the market.

Rita: Wow.

Bobbi: And we fight battles with every marketing dollar we spend. The big food companies spend a million times more. On marketing the fact that their stuff is good and good for you, and then they put bad things in the food and we eat them and we become addicted. And therefore who benefits unfortunately the drug companies.

Yeah. And you know, and people are told by their doctor, well, here, take the pill, will control your cholesterol that way and. The truth is there are side effects that, you know, that’s not the way to do it. Yeah. And inflammation, I mean, I am hell Bent, on getting the message out. Trying not to be preachy. Yeah.

But getting the message out that, you know, taking anti-inflammatories all the time, every day. Is not the answer, right? You can get rid of all that inflammation and everything hurts less and everything feels better when what you put in your body is clean.

Rita: Well, your, your, your success with the, the discovery of what you need and how you’ve reacted to eliminating things from your diet and eating different things is it’s just a lesson and a reminder for, for everybody.

Of course, we’re not here to, to. Dispense, you know, healthcare information to people. I mean, if you’re, if someone’s listening and they’re taking, you know, an anti-cholesterol or a cholesterol lowering medication, probably should talk to your doctor about whether or not you should continue to do that, right?

I mean, that’s, we’re not here to, to change anybody’s medical treatment. That’s gotta be something that people discuss with their doctor. But we are here to inform people about choices that are out there and that, you know, maybe if you are. Having dietary related, you know, issues that can be modified with changing your diet, that is a real choice.That produces real solutions, but it takes effort and, you know, your, your effort has led you to. Producing your own line of food and that, that is awesome. You’ve got the entrepreneurial spirit in you that allows you to do that. You know, not everybody is, is motivated in that way, but um, but hopefully people are motivated to learn and to understand that there are choices out there and to figure out what is the best choice for them.

And to find a trusted healthcare provider to have those real conversations with, you know, there’s not just, it’s not just voodoo medicine out there. It’s, it’s real choices. And, you know, what, what is the expression? You know, food as medicine, you are what you eat. We’ve all, we were all told that in kindergarten, but it’s true.

And, uh, I think it’s remarkable, um, that your recoveries reflect your. Clean eating. I mean, there’s no, no doubt in my mind that that’s, that’s definitely had had an impact on you. So Bravo. Congratulations for that. Yeah. And

Bobbi: you know, it’s really, the other thing that I wanna, uh, preface all of that with is we are all on that journey, on our own timeline and in our own way.And if somebody told me when I was 50 years old that I don’t have to live the way I was living or just eliminate my diet soda, or just eliminate the chocolate that I was eating. You know, I would’ve looked at them like they lost their mind and, you know, no, I’m fine. You know, I’ve done this my whole life and I’ve, and I’ve been fine.

Well, no I wasn’t, but you don’t know till you see the other side. So everybody has to have their, what I call their big bad event. Their their BBE moment where, and for me it was the coming together of, of. My sister getting sick and watching her die a horrendous death, and myself being so fatigued I couldn’t function.

And the third thing that was happening at the same time was my father. Who was also very active his whole life. Suddenly at 80 could do nothing. And he skied up until he was 80. And then the next couple years he had such severe heart disease that affected him physically as well as very progressing dementia.

And both of those are tied to diet. I know. And I just said, and he lived to be 92. Wow. And I said, he’s gonna live to be in my nineties, which I likely will because I have that in my family. I want my quality of life to be his last 12 years were horrible. I don’t want that. And my, I don’t wanna go the way my sister went.
You know? I, I wanna be playing pickleball and riding my horses until that day. Right. And, and I wanna feel good. I just wanna feel like it doesn’t hurt to get out of bed. And that’s my commitment

Rita: . That’s awesome. That is awesome. Totally. How many total number of spine surgeries have you had, Bobby?

Bobbi: Three spine, one neck.

Rita: Three spine. One neck. Yeah. Remarkable. Absolutely remarkable.

Bobbi: Yeah, and I will tell you that my doctor retired, which freaked me out. I purposely went to a doctor that was younger than I was hoping they would be around for my whole life.

Rita: I think I know who your doctor is. Is it, is it Dr. Slosar? Dr. Paul Slosar? Yeah.

Bobbi: Yes. Yes. And I love him to death, but he retired and I just, I’m so angry at him.

Rita: He’s worked hard his, his whole life though. He, he deserves it.

Bobbi: I swear by him, but I am starting to feel that my back is not as strong as it was. We’re approaching five years. Interestingly, I am nowhere near needing surgery right now, but I needed to find a doctor to get to know before I get to that point.

And so I did my research. I found somebody closer to me than he is cuz he was the three hour drive away. And first thing I did, after I figured out who I wanna see. Is, I had a consult with that doctor, and then I called Paul and I said, Paul, is this guy okay as good as you? Which is a ridiculous question because I don’t think anyone’s gonna be as good as he was.

Ah, but I, you know, I trust him. And if he said, yes, he’ll do good by you, then I’m, I’m okay with that.

Rita: That’s great. That’s, that is wonderful. What, what a great way to find your next doctor by consulting with your, your original doctor. That’s, that’s awesome. Well, um, Bobby, could you maybe say a few things for us about, um, finding sort of peer-to-peer support on the internet through the National Spine Health Foundation and the importance of what we’re doing and why this matters?

Bobbi: Yeah, I, I love what you’re doing because while I didn’t need to have that, uh, benefit while I was going for all mine cuz the, the journey was different and I ended up in, in the doctor’s office that I did and I felt supported that way. I talk to so many people that have back pain, and so there’s a podcast host, a Rich role who I love, and I listen to his podcasts all the time.

And he’s recently, he’s 11 years younger than I am, and he’s recently been talking about, he’s an ultra athlete and uh, he’s recently been talking that he’s been diagnosed with Spondylothesis as well. And I want to call him up and say, listen. You know, listen, don’t give up your life like he’s really struggling.

He mentions it on the podcast and, um, as a matter of fact, I’m going to direct him to listen to this podcast. Uh, you know, that might be easier than me getting hold of him directly. I’ll just send notes that I want him to listen to this. But anyway, yes. Yeah, people like people that aren’t famous, you know, everyday people who aren’t at. I wanna reach out to them and shake them and go do it. Just do it. See an appropriate doctor, and if it comes down to surgery, do it. You will be so happy because nothing else was relieving my pain to the degree that surgery did. And yes, it’s a painful surgery and yes it does. You know, for the average person, it’s gonna take you out of your life for a little while and it’s gonna be a fairly long recovery.

It’s worth it. Down to your life, and you feel like every time I’ve gone through this, I have come out the other side feeling like I was reborn. I really did.

Rita: Wow, that’s amazing. Well, we are publishing research every month here at the foundation and publishing clinical outcomes research on modern spinal healthcare and the, the explosion in innovation in technology that has happened over the course of the last 10, 15, 20 years in spinal healthcare is, is absolutely phenomenal and is giving people options like, like never before. The outcomes are predictable. Your story, you know, everyone’s story is unique. Your journey is your own, but the outcomes to be expected are similar. People should expect to get it the right treatment from the right.You know, trained expert and get great outcomes and get back to their lives. That is the expectation of modern spinal healthcare, and that hasn’t always been the case. So I think, you know, we’re in a new era of treating neck and back pain and neck and back conditions, and we’ve got to encourage people to understand what their condition is.

Find the right treatment and get back to their lives and live the best quality life for the time that they’re here. Right. And that’s what, that’s what it’s all about.

Bobbi: I completely agree. I just, you know, my, my whole thing is, If I’m gonna be alive, I’m gonna do it the way I want. It’s gonna be on my terms.
I’m not gonna be in a wheelchair. I’m not gonna, you know, I’m gonna do everything I can to prevent having dementia and, and losing my mind. You know, I can’t even imagine retiring and not working because that’s an integral part of who I am is. The intellectual part, the physical part,

Rita: the mind body connection, right?

Rita: Yes.

Bobbi: It’s connected. Yeah. And, and thank you for thinking, you know, saying that you think, I look young, I believe that’s what keeps me young.

Rita: Movement. Movement is the key to life. A body in motion stays in motion. And, um, you, you know, and if you’re debilitated, you can’t move. You know, there’s mental health issues around that.There’s physical health issues around that. So it’s, it’s, it’s, we’re, we are multidisciplinary beings. Our, our, our mind and bodies are connected. Our organs are connected. That spine takes you through life. Your muscles are literally, Connected to it. So taking care of your spine is gonna help you be able to do anything.Write books, start companies, climb mountains, ride horses, do it all that you’ve done.

Bobbi: Take my seven grandchildren skiing.

Rita: Wow.

Bobbi: I, I’ve skied with a few of them. I’m gonna ski with the rest of them at some point in, in my life and in their life. You know, their Mimi is gonna ski with, with her grandchildren and ride bikes with them and, and you know, go on active trips and, and that’s just, For me, that’s the excitement of being a grandparent.
I loved raising my three boys, but now I have, don’t have the responsibility of, uh, you know, disciplining them and who they are, the seven grandchildren. I can just go play with them and have fun. Go play with them.

Rita: That’s awesome. All right. You gotta send us pictures of that.

Bobbi: I will. I will. Gladly, yes.

Rita: Well, Bobbi, it’s been so awesome talking with you today.Thank you so much for your, your candid, honest, truthful sharing of your story. Um, you share your vulnerabilities with us. You’ve shared your strength and your perseverance. I can’t thank you enough. I think this is so. Awesome. Um, such inspirational, uh, messages here for people to learn from. And, and I just, I thank you so much for your time and, uh, I look forward to seeing those pictures of you, um, doing all that fun stuff with the grandkids.

Bobbi: Absolutely. Thank you. I, I, I appreciate it and I love sharing the message. I love reaching out to other people and. And anything that I can do to help them or support them in their journeys to wellness and quality of life, it’s, that’s what I’m here for.

Rita: Thank you for that. Thank you. At the Nationals Spine Health Foundation, something we believe in most is providing hope for recovery through sharing stories of success and expertise.
It isn’t always easy to find someone to relate to, even though a hundred million adults suffer from neck or low back pain each year. To hear more stories of spinal champion recovery and access educational materials about spine health, Visit us at If you’re interested in supporting our show financially, you can contribute at the link provided. Thank you for listening.

In this episode, we are joined by Bobbi Giudicelli who has an incredible story to share. For her whole life, she suffered from back pain and thought it was normal. It wasn’t until she started playing tennis in her early 30s that the pain increased and became debilitating. She consulted with a spine specialist and was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis. Over the next 12 years, she had to undergo surgery three times as the condition progressed up her lumbar spine. 

In addition to the surgeries, Bobbi also made a significant change to her diet. She transitioned to a whole food plant-based and gluten-free diet. She found that the cleaner her diet, the easier her recovery was for each of her surgeries. Now, at 67 years old, she feels better and has more energy than she did in her 40s. She regularly rides horses and plays pickleball for several hours, three to four days a week.

Join us as we explore Bobbi’s journey, her experience with spondylolisthesis, and how her diet has played a significant role in her recovery and overall well-being.

Bobbi Giudicelli is the author of: “Freedom From a Toxic Relationship With Food: A Journey That Will Give You Your Life Back” and founder of “Read The Ingredients Superloafs” which are available at and on Amazon.