If you believe in excellent medical care with personal attention provided
by an experienced and world renowned surgeon and his caring staff, you
have found the right clinic! Our goal is to give personalized, top quality
medical care to each and every patient. Unlike other clinics, we do not
overbook our schedule for office visits or surgeries. PATIENTS ARE NOT
JUST A NUMBER TO US. WE STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT EACH AND EVERY PATIENT DESERVES
PROPER TIME AND CARE... [more]
The patients in the Testimonials list below have had the
same procedure displayed in the video above.
(firstname.lastname@example.org) on 5/19/2008 11:16:44 PM
First Name: Bill
Last Name: Yemma
E-mail Address: email@example.com
Hello Dr. Schiffer,
All is well with me and my neck since you performed the
CED in July 1999 and again, I thank your from the bottom of my heart:
Dr. Schiffer performed a CED on me in July 1999 and I have been free of neck
and arm pain since then. I lead a normal life and rarely think about this problem.
When someone does contact me to hear my story, it gives me an opportunity to
express my gratitude for this wonderful doctor and his staff who helped me
through a very painful period of my life.
Hello Prabha –
It has been almost 7 years now since y’all fixed my herniated disc, and
I am doing well. About the only time I ever even think about it is when somebody
asks. Since then, I have had some other problems – two blocked coronary
arteries in 2004 & 2006, but they were fixed in time via angioplasty
and I am still doing well and feeling great.
Please keep in touch and thank you for all that y’all did to get me
well. Dr. Schiffer is a wonder healer and I really appreciate what he and
of you did for me.
Senior Forest Analyst
Champion International Corporation
Texas Region Forest Resources
My story is one that you have probably heard the first half of before …it is the second half that is different.
The First Half of the Story - I am a 42 year old guy who went into forestry to get outdoors and ended up spending most of the last 20 years working on a computer. Half my life ago I worked on a "Hotshot" crew fighting brush and timber fires for the US Forest Service in California. To satisfy my need to get grungy every now and then, I have relied on working around the house building decks, landscaping, doing home repair and remodeling and trimming trees, etc.
Unfortunately, it took a hard lesson with a tree pruning saw to wake me up to the reality that I am not 19 anymore.
Last February, in an effort to beat the early spring budding of our 12 oaks and sweetgums, I bought a really nice $230 professional pruning saw with 6 six-foot aluminum pole extensions. I wanted to get a lot of the lower limbs off of the trees and open it up so that the grass would grow.
Working with the saw was pretty routine until I decided to add the 4th, 5th, or 6th (virtually impossible) extensions to get the higher branches. I figured out how to get the saw up in the air and on to the high branches. But when I cut a high branch and the saw started to fall, I couldn’t resist the urge to hang on and keep the $230 rig from going to the ground … so I hung on like if you were deep sea fishing an Orca whale, all the while thinking to myself "this is a $230 pruning saw, I can’t let it hit the ground". It became a hard lesson in economics for me and I have wondered may times how much better off I would have been to spend the $230 to hire somebody to trim the trees. Many of us foresters are hard headed.
The next day my upper back was sore and tired along with the rest of me. A few weeks later my neck hurt. A few weeks after that, my shoulder hurt. By then, spring was in full bloom and it was time to start mowing the yard. On Saturday, May 15th , the morning after mowing the yard, I woke up with a pain in my arm and shoulder that was new and severe and did not go away in the usual amount of time. My wife, Tracy, who has been a licensed Physical Therapist for the past 17 years, said that she thought that I might have strained a cervical disc in my neck.
Over the course of a couple of weeks, the pain got worse. By May 28th my right arm had become so weak and numb that I couldn’t even pull the keys out of the ignition; the muscles in my right upper chest, right upper back and back of my right arm had already begun to noticeably atrophy. I went to a new doctor in town who took a keen interest in my situation.
Over the course of several weeks, many diagnostic tests were run which confirmed that the disc between my 6th and 7th cervical vertebrae had a large bulge which was pushing against the nerves in my spinal cord that go to my right arm and shoulder; I was experiencing an acute case of "referred" pain that was making my life very miserable. I hadn’t had a good nights sleep in weeks, and was having to take quite a bit of prescription pain medication. Although this diagnosis is not what we wanted to hear, we were relieved to find out that it was a mechanical problem and not something more debilitating like Multiple Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
The generally accepted remedy for what was wrong with me is to have the disc removed and the space between the vertebrae fused. This works for some folks. For other folks, it means that a few years down the road you’ll probably have another disc needing to be removed. It’s kind of like taking a shock absorber off of your car and replacing it with a steel rod … sooner or later something somewhere else is probably going to feel it.
The Second Half of the Story - Tracy and the good doctor and I all agreed that the traditional disc laminectomy and spinal fusion was the option of last resort. So, on Memorial Day, since I couldn’t do anything else, I spent most of the afternoon surfing the health databases on the Internet. I targeted minimally invasive procedures and found a doctor in California who specializes in Percutaneous Cervical Discectomies. I filled out their electronic website form and sent it to them.
The next day, the Dr. Stanton Schiffer from the Western Neurosurgery Clinic called me. We discussed my situation. It appeared that I was a textbook candidate for this procedure. For the first time in several weeks I was hopeful that maybe something could be done to fix this problem. A few days later, our family doctor called the California doctor. The next day we shipped out the X-rays, CAT scan and MRI. The next day, they called back to schedule the surgery. This was wonderful news because it meant that I would be close to being back to normal by the time that the girl’s fall soccer season started. I had committed to coach two of our girl’s teams.
During the same time, I sent off several emails to hospitals and medical schools in Houston & Dallas to inquire if this procedure is done anywhere in Texas. To the best of my knowledge, it is not currently being done.
In the mean time, my doctor in Huntsville started me on an aggressive short dose of Prednisone to relieve the swelling where the disc bulge was pushing on the nerve bundle. This took away the pain and, I believe, saved me from permanent nerve damage and further muscle atrophication. It was an ideal application for the anti-inflammatory steroid and I was able to take 60 mg/day for 10 days and then taper down by 10mg every 5 days so that I was completely done before the surgery. Toward the end of the taper, I began to get some numbness back in my hand. This was all I needed to convince me that the surgery needed to be done.
So, on Sunday, July 25th, Tracy and I left our 3 daughters with her folks in Houston and flew to San Jose, California. On Monday morning, we had a little time to kill, so we rode the BART train into San Francisco and did a little sight seeing. Monday afternoon we met with Dr. Schiffer and his staff (they are a wonderful bunch) for a couple of hours to do all of the final pre-op paperwork and exams. On Tuesday afternoon, we drove to a surgery center in San Ramon, about 30 miles from where we were staying. Walked in the door at 2:30 P.M. Walked out the door at 6:30 P.M. Fixed!!!
Here is my best non medical explanation of what went on. Keep in mind hat I was kind of happy/groggy. Under IV sedation, the doctor inserted a probe into my neck between my esophagus and carotid artery (this is why they make more money than I do). Using X-ray control, he sent the probe into the herniated disc into the area that was bulging against my spinal cord. Then he inserted a device that resembles a miniature down hole oil field tool like they use out in West Texas. They turned on the suction pump and as the soft inner disc material was drawn into the device, a reciprocating cutting head chopped out pieces of me and sent them on their merry way downstream. This relieved the intra-discal pressure and took the bulge out without removing the disc. All in about 20 minutes. The probe came back out. They sobered me up and I waited around for about an hour and half to make sure all was OK. The entry wound was a 1/8th inch no stitch band aid covered mark that I have a hard time finding.
Tracy drove us back to the hotel. We ate supper with an old buddy from South Austin. Went to bed. Slept pretty well. Went back to the doctor at 10:00 am the next day. Flew back to Houston at 3:00 P.M. Got the girls on Thursday and drove home in the afternoon. On Friday, I came in to work for a few hours to check my email, regular mail and voice mail.
Doctor’s orders were to take it easy for 6 weeks and don’t do anything stupid or lift anything over 3 pounds. I obeyed.
I understand that this is less expensive than the traditional disc removal, which has a recovery time of several weeks.
We have learned a lot over the past several months. Tracy, who has been a saintly wife through all of this, has learned a lot professionally regarding this procedure and it’s associated physical therapy. We’ve both learned how to use the on line information via the Internet to find a doctor in another state and make all of the logistical arrangements. We were able to take control of the situation and get it resolved in a relatively short period of time.
The trip to California, while an out of pocket expense (I need to check with my accountant as I think that most or all of it is tax-deductible), was a reasonable price and gave us a couple of days together that we haven’t had in several years. The weather was gorgeous.
So many people gave us so much support through kind words and deeds, offers to help at work and home, and many prayers for a successful and fast recovery. I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the folks in Huntsville, our family doctor, and Dr. Schiffer and his staff.
It has now been almost a month since the surgery and I feel great. No pain or numbness in my neck, shoulder, arm or hand. In another week or two I will be able to start some light weight lifting to rehabilitate the muscles that were damaged. My family doctor here says that I should be totally back to normal by the end of the year, with most or all of my previous strength back.
I recommend that if anybody has a circumstance similar to mine, they would do well to contact the Western Neurosurgery Clinic. I am glad that I did. They would also do well to hire somebody to trim their trees.
Bill Yemma Summer 1999
Update... As of January 2002, all is well and I am feeling very good!
Update... As of August 2009, all is well and I am feeling very good!
"It has been over 10 years now since Dr. Schiffer fixed a herniated disk in my neck after I injured it trimming trees. All has been well since then, and I rarely even think about the amount of pain that I was in during the summer of 1999. But when I do think about it, I am still very grateful to Dr. Schiffer for helping me".