Sarah Post was able to get through the day. She was on her feet a lot and took frequent flights for work. Yes, her back hurt. But she figured it was sciatica left over from her pregnancy with twin boys that she delivered at Hoag nine years ago. It would flare up from time to time. And her leg was starting to get a little numb at the knee. But she could power through it.
Until she couldn’t.
“I had just gotten off a plane, and I couldn’t sit, stand or lie down. It was a weekend, and I went to an Urgent Care, where I got an X-ray and some pain medication,” she said. “By Tuesday morning, I couldn’t get up to take my kids to school. That’s when my husband said, ‘We’re going to the ER right now.’”
At the Hoag Emergency Department in Newport Beach, Sarah was given an extensive workup, including an MRI.
“Even I could see it on the image, and I’m not a medical person. I had a herniated disc,” she said.
What happened next Sarah chalks up to luck. It was luck that she was able to be discharged instead of requiring emergency back surgery. This allowed her time to call Sally Tilsen, a physician’s assistant at Hoag’s Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute. It was luck that Sarah knew from her history of migraine treatment at Hoag. And it was luck that Sally works with Adam Kanter, M.D., associate executive medical director of the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute.
“It’s back surgery. You don’t want to mess around. Sally said, ‘Go to Dr. Kanter,’” she said. “We did have trepidation going into it, but Dr. Kanter was really straightforward, which I appreciated. The way he presented it didn’t sound scary. When he told my husband and me about what he was going to do and about the low risk, I said, ‘We’re doing it.’”
More luck kicked in: schedules aligned, insurance coverage was determined and Sarah was able to undergo a minimally invasive discectomy within a week.
“I was lucky that we could identify the problem and fix it. I went in at 5:30 in the morning and was home by 11:45 in the morning,” she said. “And I felt fantastic.”
Reflecting back, Sarah realized that she probably had a progressive back issue that worsened over the years. Acupuncture may have masked some of the pain, but the underlying condition was likely there for a while.
“One of the biggest realizations for me after the surgery was that I didn’t know how much pain I was in until I was out of it,” she said. “Immediately after the surgery, the pain lessened by 98%. It was just incredible. Now, nearly six months out of my surgery, I’m starting to feel like I’m completely out of the pain. I’m feeling just fantastic.”
Being a working mom with a go-go job, Sarah worked through the pain. She was able to power through it. Until she wasn’t. And now?
“I am so grateful that I was able to get the care I needed,” she said. “I’m so grateful to Hoag.”