E-Consults Can Expedite Specialist Advice

If you need to see a specialist, your doctor may be able to save you some time or travel by requesting an e-consult. E-consults are currently available for certain conditions within cardiology, endocrinology, infectious disease, psychiatry, rheumatology and neurology. Ask your doctor if an e-consult may be an option in your case.

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Bob Mason, Back Surgery Patient

Bob Mason - Gladwin, MI

"I really enjoyed working with Dr. Smith. If I need help again, he will be my first choice."

Leg Pain Vanishes after Back Surgery

Retired building trades teacher Bob Mason, of Gladwin, spent his working life active and in motion. So when the 68-year-old woke up in severe pain one morning, it caught him by surprise. "The pain in my leg came on just that quickly," he said. "One morning I couldn't get out of bed."

At first, Mason thought he had overextended himself and perhaps pulled a muscle. "I had no idea what was wrong but the pain was excruciating," he said. "They always ask for a pain reading between 1 and 10. Mine was a 12."

He first went to see his primary care physician in Clare. "They ordered an X-ray, then an MRI," he said. "The MRI showed the problem."

Mason was diagnosed with a herniated disc, often called a slipped disc. This may occur when the outer coating of a disc is damaged and the soft, jelly-like center leaks and touches nerves which can cause severe pain.

"They immediately wanted to refer me to a back surgeon in Midland but I said what about physical therapy or steroid injections?" said Mason who wanted to try non-invasive options first. "I tried the therapy, but my doctor helped me realized that all the therapy in the world was not going to heal my herniated disc."

Mason discovered he would have to wait a month just for an initial consult with most of the back specialists. Luckily, Neurosurgeon Adrian Smith, M.D., was relatively new to the mid-Michigan area and had an opening within a week.

Under other circumstances, Mason said he would have done some research and sought out referrals. "The pain was too severe," he said. "As soon as I could, I went for a consult with Dr. Smith and I was very impressed. He was confident he could take care of my problem."

A few days later Mason had surgery at MyMichigan Medical Center - Midland. Dr. Smith performed a laminectomy – surgery to remove the lamina, part of the bone that makes up a vertebra – in order to remove the tissue that was touching the nerves and causing the pain.

"Since Dr. Smith had to put in a couple of stitches, I had to lay in recovery for 48 hours, flat on my back," Mason said. "There was no pain, I just had to lay still for two days. After that, I got up and went home."

Mason said his recovery at home was very good. "They explained to me that the body heals more slowly when it's fighting pain, so I was careful to take my pain medications exactly as prescribed," he said.

Mason admits he had a couple of uncomfortable nights after discontinuing the pain medicine. However, the symptoms were short-lived and more annoying than severe he added.

"There was never any incisional pain," he said. "The procedure was minimally invasive – it was about a two-inch incision – and it healed nicely."

"I really enjoyed working with Dr. Smith. He has a great sense of humor and is very candid," Mason said. "When I asked him about a recurrence, he said as long as I didn't do anything dumb, I'd be ok. And if I did do something dumb, he would be there to take care of me."

Mason is delighted to recommend Dr. Smith to friends and neighbors. "I want to let other people know he is a fine surgeon and a good man," he said. "If I need help again, he will be my first choice."

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.

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