Paul Weber - Weidman, MI
"Dr. Smith is phenomenal; he is outstanding. I wish there was a word that means 'better than phenomenal' because he is."
He's Not Only Walking Again - He Could Have Danced!
Like most people over the age of 50, Paul Weber experienced minor back pain now and again. In June of 2017, however, the pain was not minor and it didn't go away.
"I was at my grandson's baseball game and all of a sudden my back started to hurt and my legs began to tingle," the 71-year-old said. He self-treated with over-the-counter remedies but they didn’t work for long.
"My back was so sore I could hardly walk," Weber said. He was prescribed more powerful pain medication and while it relieved some of the pain for a while, it did nothing for the numbness in his legs. "I kept falling due to the numbness," he said. "I started using a cane, then a walker. I knew the next step would be a wheelchair."
Weber tried without success to resolve his problem with his health care providers. By August, he was desperate and he started looking for solutions on his own. "I had to do something," he said. "I was not going to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair."
He called a friend who works at MyMichigan Medical Center - Midland. "I asked Denise 'Who's the best back doctor you have?'" Weber said. "She told me they are all good, and then she gave me the name of a doctor who was new in town."
Weber promptly called the office of board-certified Neurosurgeon Adrian Smith, M.D., who treats a variety of brain and spine conditions. "I thought I'd have to wait weeks to see him but he saw me the next morning," he said.
He immediately felt comfortable with Dr. Smith. "I can't say enough good things about him," Weber said. "He has a wonderful bedside manner, he listened to me and he explained everything really well."
He also appreciated that Dr. Smith suggested exploring less invasive options first. He referred Weber to another physician for a consult regarding injections. Ultimately, however, both doctors thought that surgery was the best choice in order for Weber to gain true relief from the pain and numbness.
Weber was impressed by the coordination among the physicians and the hospital staff. "I left the second doctor's office and drove straight to the hospital. Everything was ready. While my wife parked the car, I was on my way to a room," he said.
After Weber was admitted, Dr. Smith stopped to see him and explained his situation and his options: physical therapy, injections or surgery.
Trusting the doctor's judgement, Weber chose to have surgery and asked Dr. Smith to schedule it. "He said to me 'I already did – it's at 4 o'clock tomorrow,'" Weber laughed.
The next day, Thursday, August 31, Dr. Smith performed a laminectomy – surgery to remove the lamina, part of the bone that makes up a vertebra – in order to remove some scar tissue that was touching nerves and causing the back pain and leg numbness.
"I had surgery at four and when I woke up at six, I could feel my legs," Weber said. Shortly after that, he was up and walking. After of months of intense back pain, numbness and immobility, Weber was walking unaided and pain-free. "It was nothing short of incredible."
"The next morning, a physical therapist came and took me for a short walk and said that Dr. Smith decided I could be released," Weber said. "By noon Friday, I was on my way home. I could not only walk, I could have danced!"
Weber said he had a very positive experience at the Medical Center. "If you have to have surgery, this is the place to be," he said. "Everything was great. The staff was wonderful and everything ran right on time. This was my first time at MyMichigan Health and I'd come here again in a heartbeat."
Before surgery, Weber, who loves to hunt, knew he couldn't walk in the woods, much less climb a tree stand. A few weeks after surgery, he was once again looking forward to the season. "The only restrictions Dr. Smith gave me were don't drag a deer out of the woods by myself and don't lift it alone," he said.
Weber says he is walking proof of Dr. Smith's skill. People who saw him in pain and using a walker are amazed by his recovery. "I've recommended him to a dozen people so far," he said.
"Dr. Smith is phenomenal; he is outstanding," Weber said. "I wish there was a word that means 'better than phenomenal' because he is. If I ever need back surgery again, it will be with him."
Neurosurgeon Adrian Smith, M.D. specializes in neurosurgery and sees patients at MyMichigan Medical Center - Midland. Dr. Smith has fellowship training in complex spine surgeries, including adult deformity spine surgery and minimally-invasive spine surgery. During his residency, he spent six months training in treating brain tumors at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. To make an appointment with Dr. Smith, call (989) 839-3393.