Arthritis Pain - Virtua Spine and Brain Institute

Personal Story: Fred is Back on His Feet Again

In spite of chronic arthritic pain and undiagnosed scoliosis, Fred Hirsekorn of Moorsetown NJ, was always physically active. On the golf course, in the pool, on the beach, up a ladder, Fred gave 110%. He even played in the USA Senior Open Qualifier, and who knows, maybe he would have won -“if it wasn’t for that fog.”

Then, one day, he just couldn’t do it anymore. He couldn’t walk from the golf cart (which he didn’t like riding in to begin with) to the green, so he decided he needed to do something about it. He started at a well-recognized orthopedic institute in Philadelphia, Pa. He went from appointments to shots to ease the pain, to surgery. Rods and screws were put in to fuse his spine. His pain was relieved for three months but then came back with a vengeance. 

For many reasons he decided to reach out to a new doctor. Virtua’s Brain and Spine Institute surgeon, Dr. Orin Atlas came highly recommended. 

Dr. Atlas confirmed Fred’s fear, due to his previous surgery and hardware failure, he could have a revision surgical procedure or would have to live with the pain.

The surgery was scheduled and Fred, nervous and excited, arrived so early the day of the procedure that the building wasn’t even open yet. Instead of telling Fred to wait outside, the security guard let him in and made sure he knew where he was going.

From that point on, it was a completely different experience than his first. There was no long wait. No surprises. Everyone knew who Fred was and why he was there. It all felt very personal.  “That’s the kind of attention to detail that’s critical in today’s care. Dr. Atlas walked into the room prepared – he knew exactly who I was and what we were there to do that day. I can’t tell you how comforting that is.”

“I have pictures of the operation. It was amazing. When you look at how the screws went in, you know an expert did it.” In addition, “The staff didn’t just make sure the procedure went right, they treated me like a human being.”

Fred’s intensive care nurse treated him “like family.” She didn’t perform her job in a perfunctory manor, but in a caring and thoughtful way. She didn’t just hand him off when his time with her was done. She took him personally to his next room and made sure he had everything that he needed. And, just like his intensive care nurse, his orthopedic nurse was more interested in how he felt and that he was satisfied than checking off boxes on a to-do list. “They anticipated my every need, because they really knew who I was.”

Fred had his surgery on a Thursday, was up and walking on Friday and home on Sunday. There were no complications. Everything went according to plan and now Fred is back to being just as physical as before. “I can walk, even run, on the beach. I ride the waves like an 18 year old and I can walk my dogs again – or they walk me.” But no - he will not be attempting another Open.

Updated October 10, 2017

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