More Than a Spine Surgery: Mobility and Faith in Healthcare Restored

More Than a Spine Surgery: Mobility and Faith in Healthcare Restored

What began as a primary care visit for radiating neck pain led to a six-level spinal fusion (C4-T3) within just three weeks’ time. When 63-year-old Gardner resident Danny Scherdin began experiencing acute pain that felt like an “electric shock,” pins and needles, as well as numbness in his neck and left arm, primary care provider Kevin J. Punswick, DO, at Olathe Health Family Medicine – Gardner Edgerton,  ordered an MRI. Dr. Punswick and Danielle E. Berg, APRN, had already been treating Danny for radiating neck pain. After attempts to manage the radiating pain through weight loss and other conservative measures, imaging was the next step.

Time Was of the Essence

When the results came back, Dr. Punswick expressed concerns and urged Danny to consult a spine surgeon immediately. Danny saw Shyam M. Shridharani, MD, FAAOS, at Olathe Health Integrity Spine Surgery, where he learned he was at risk for paralysis and needed spine surgery as soon as possible.

“What could have been very scary news became digestible information with a clear map for recovery,” Danny recalled. “Dr. Shridharani showed compassion as he explained my medical issues and why surgery was the only solution. He didn’t leave until all my questions were answered.”

During the initial consultation, Dr. Shridharani diagnosed Danny with spinal cord stenosis. His condition was severe, but like many, he went years without signs or symptoms. It wasn’t until the stenosis caused spinal cord compression, which can lead to upper extremity weakness, deterioration of gait, feelings of electric shock throughout the spine and extremities, and paralysis, that Danny knew something was wrong.

Prepared for the Long Haul

Danny previously underwent two knee replacements at another facility, and the experiences left him wary of healthcare providers.

“Rushed home too soon –once with drop foot–, I felt like just a number in their books,” Danny recalled of his knee replacements. “From the moment I walked in the door (at Olathe Health Integrity Spine Surgery), I felt like a V.I.P. It was so refreshing to feel seen.”

In the weeks before surgery and the months that followed, Danny was in regular contact with his care team. Before the operation, they armed him with the knowledge he needed to prepare for the procedure and its challenging recovery. After surgery, Danny remembers Dr. Shridharani and James D. Leap, PA-C, coming to personally change his bandages and monitor post-surgery discomfort.

A Turning Point

Danny returned home after six days in the hospital. His recovery would take a few months, but the care team had prepared him for what to expect.

“The staples being removed was a big milestone,” Danny said. “Cleared for physical therapy, I could begin restoring my mobility.”

Less than a year after surgery, Danny can garden on his own for the first time in three years. Whether he is planting flowers, tomatoes and peppers; supervising the warehouse floor at work; or enjoying time with his wife, Karla, and his son, Danny is grateful for his independence. Free of pain, surgery also renewed Danny’s trust in his healthcare providers.