Jenny Jones

My original symptoms started around 2000. I attributed the pain to activities I was doing, such as skiing with my kids, carrying large, heavy ski bags, and pulling kids on their skis. In 2002 I started dragging my right foot and tripping. I remember falling in my office and just thought I was being clumsy. Standing became a huge problem, my husband had to help me to the car when I stood too long.

On a Sunday run, I was about 2 miles from home when my right leg went completely numb and I fell. It was early and I was hoping someone would pass by. After about 5 minutes, I got up (interestingly, walking was not possible, but jogging was because my gait and weight were different). I made an appointment to see my PCP, who told me not to worry, that I likely just had arthritis, and to run on a soft surface. He did order an MRI as I was insistent on the numbness and now pronounced limp. The MRI showed spondylolisthesis and I was referred to a neurosurgeon who just asked me if I wanted a disability note so I wouldn’t have to work. I asked my PCP for a second referral and was recommended for surgery, which I had a few weeks later.

The Surgery took about 6 hours and I was very ill from the anesthesia with nausea and vomiting. The slip was worse than expected, a grade 4 slip. I also had a disintegrated vertebra, likely present from birth, exacerbated by aging and my activity level. I did not get cadaver bone during the fusion (common back then), but a biological substance described to me to be like glue, to facilitate new bone growth.

I was in the hospital for 4 days. I took 6 weeks off from work for my recovery, which at the beginning was painful. My kids remember me having to use an office chair to even be able to sit at a table for dinner. Silk jammies helped (easy to roll) when in bed. I returned to work with a back brace and bone growth stimulator. I didn’t need PT after surgery.

Before surgery, I was an active snowboarder and skier. My husband and I were ski club advisors for our local school. I was told to not ski or board after surgery. I do continue to ski, but only on blue or green hills, and I’m very careful not to fall.

Fast forward five years and my arms start going numb, especially at night. I went to my PCP, and she sent me back to my surgeon. I was prescribed steroids to reduce swelling, and that helped for a short time, but the numbness became more constant. I had a laminectomy at C3 and C4 to relieve pressure, and I did PT for recovery. I did have a side effect of losing my voice for over a month, but with a dose of steroids, I finally got my voice back. My neck still feels tight often but I just do some stretches.

I am 60 years old now, and it’s been 20 years since my first back surgery. I don’t snowboard but I still ski. In the last 5 years, my husband and I bought land off the grid, cut our way in, and built an off-the-grid cabin. I would like to say I still run, but a year ago, I started having a knee problem. That’s almost back so I walk instead. I swim, kayak and enjoy my grandbaby.

Jenny Jones | New York | Spondylolisthesis L4,5-S1, Cervical Spinal Stenosis | Spinal Fusion, Laminectomy