How Father Andy's Prayers for Pain Relief Were Answered
From Peckville, PA, Father Andy traveled 2 ½ hours one way to be treated by Penn Medicine | Virtua neurosurgeon Stephen Dante, MD, who performs surgery at Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mount Holly, New Jersey.
Some asked why he would drive more than 5 hours for every appointment. And, he’d say it was because he knew he was in good hands. “I wanted to be pain free, and Dr. Dante helped me achieve that and more,” explained Father Andy.
Father Andy’s back pain began years earlier. He suffered from severe osteoporosis, which led to spinal stenosis (compression of the vertebra). When the affected vertebra fractured, the pain became constant. “I couldn’t stand in one place for more than 1-2 minutes,” recalled Father Andy. “If I was saying Mass, I’d get a shooting, burning pain in my back and legs. And, once it started, it didn’t go away. I couldn’t sleep. I was 58 years old, but it felt like I was an unhealthy 88.”
Father Andy saw many different doctors and specialists. He tried injections, physical therapy and other pain treatments—any relief he experienced was only temporary.
With severe pain that could no longer be relieved, Father Andy was referred to Dr. Dante for evaluation. “He ordered an MRI and, after seeing the results, he said I was a candidate for surgery,” recalled Father Andy. “Dr. Dante thoroughly explained everything. I went into surgery confident in my treatment plan, but the results were beyond my expectations.”
Father Andy had a laminectomy, in which part of the vertebra that covers the spinal canal was removed to make space and relieve pressure on the nerves. Then rods and screws were inserted to ensure everything remained in place. “I was up and around in no time,” he stated.
“I was concerned that the relief I got from surgery would be temporary like all of the other treatments I tried,” Father Andy remembered. “But, it has been 3 years, and I’m still pain free. I have some lifting restrictions, but I can move without pain. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do that again.”
Updated April 4, 2019