Retired Firefighter Says Dr. Ozgur ‘Does Miracles’
Burak Ozgur, M.D., is the neurosurgeon Ray Macken had been waiting for.
For years, Ray, 71, didn’t talk about his back pain. A firefighter
in the days when firefighters didn’t have much job security, Ray
figured that if he complained about his back, he’d likely get laid off.
Once he retired he began seeking help, but he didn’t like what he
heard: Three orthopedic surgeons and two neurosurgeons took a look at
Ray’s neck and back – wrecked by spinal stenosis with a protruding
disc – and determined he’d need to have some of his discs fused.
The Costa Mesa senior, who still climbs ladders, splits logs and rides
his bike everyday, wasn’t interested.
Unfortunately, Ray was running out of options. Years of lifting heavy objects
and performing manual labor with an untreated back had taken its toll;
Ray began experiencing shooting pain down his back and in his right leg.
He stooped, walked sideways and felt horrible. Something was going to
have to change.
In the Spring of 2014, Ray received a mailing featuring Hoag Neuroscience
Institute’s multifaceted Back Pain program, including the available
minimally invasive surgical expertise. It detailed a technique that involved
preserving as much muscles and ligaments as possible while still effectively
treating the problem. Patients who fail conservative therapy may qualify
for minimally invasive surgery heal faster and experience less pain.
“I told my wife, ‘I’m going to make an appointment,’” he said.
Dr. Ozgur, who is double board-certified by the American Board of Neurological
Surgery and the American Board of Spine Surgery, is the Chief of Service
for the Neurosurgical Spine Program at Hoag Neurosciences Institute. He
is also, according to Ray, an incomparably caring physician, who reviewed
all the non surgical options, as well as the value of minimally invasive
non-surgery in Ray’s particular case.
“It was the exact thing I wanted done, but it hadn’t been available
all these years,” said Ray. “His demeanor was totally focused
on me and for my wellbeing,” Ray said. “He really listened
to everything I had to say. I never had a physician like that before.”
Dr. Ozgur explained the focused procedure, in the context of the available
non-surgical and surgical options, which involved making a tiny incision
in Ray’s back to remove two cysts and to remove excess bone and
ligament that had been pushing on the nerve root in his spine. The process
would relieve the pain without causing much damage to muscle, bone and tissue.
“Dr. Ozgur said, ‘When do you want this done?’ I said,
‘What are you doing tomorrow?’”.
Ray was no stranger to surgery. Over the years, he had undergone a hip
replacement, rotator cuff surgery and an aortic valve replacement. But
his spine surgery was different.
“The main thing that amazed me, was that for the first time, I instantly
felt better,” he said. “Right away I felt the difference.”
Ray had been taking pain medication for his back for more than 20 years.
Within three weeks after surgery, he was off most of his pills and feeling terrific.
“I’m doing things that I didn’t think I was going to
do, like riding a bike. I ride down to Huntington Beach Pier, eat a sandwich
and ride back,” he said. “Tomorrow morning, I’m heading
to Lake Tahoe to do some fishing.”
Ray said his posture has returned to normal, and even his personality has
straightened out a bit.
“When you feel bad, you don’t respond to people,” he
said. “I’ve got a smile on my face a lot more. He did miracles.”