In her youth, Nancy Finch was tall and active, and fortunately never had to be concerned about her spine health as she balanced raising a family with demanding careers as a reporter and lobbyist. But as she got older, back pain took over Nancy’s narrative, and shifted how she lived her daily life. Everything from standing to driving was a painful experience, requiring accommodations just to make day-to-day life bearable.
Nancy became significantly shorter with age, shrinking from 5’10 to 5’4. Her children got her a stool for the kitchen to make cooking for herself physically possible. Clothes no longer fit her due to her uneven hips, which was most upsetting when trying to find clothing to wear to her husband’s funeral.
It was time for Nancy to seek help. After visiting the doctor, she first sought out non-surgical options to manage her pain. She began treatment via physical therapy, short-term opioid usage, and radio frequency ablation, but none of these options were able to cure the pain in her back. But in 2018, she learned exactly what had caused the negative shift in her daily routine.
“It was very frustrating because I knew something was wrong with my back,” said Finch. After an x-ray, scoliosis was mentioned for the first time. “I was so glad to have a name for what was wrong with me,” Nancy said.
Since Nancy’s diagnosis came much later in life, she discovered that not all doctors had the same treatment options. Undeterred, she resolved to continue searching until a solution was found. Nancy is not just a Spinal Champion, but is a champion for her own health and happiness. She faced pushback from many medical professionals who did not want to operate due to her advanced age, but she sought out other opinions and finally found a doctor who was able to operate on her spine successfully.
“Since my experience was such a success, I am passionate about the idea that age is a hindrance to surgery,” Nancy said. “You have to have dense bones and good health, but [surgery] is possible, and more and more people should be saved like I was.”
Following her surgery and recovery, Nancy has gotten some of her height back and is living a better life. She can confidently live independently and even drive, but most importantly, her children do not have to worry about her. After her surgery, one of her children even commented, “Mom, you’re tall again!”
“My life was changed. There was no longer and is still no longer any pain. And I can return to doing all the things I had been missing for an increasing number of years.”
If you are struggling with neck pain, the National Spine Health Foundation has got your back. We invite you to join our private support group and learn more about prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and most importantly recovery.
You can also hear the rest of Nancy’s story and additional Spinal Champion stories on the Get Back to It Podcast.