Donna Fennikoh - Degenerative Disc Disease

Brooklyn, NY

My name is Donna Fennikoh and I have always led a very energetic and active lifestyle. I am a self-professed gym rat and a diehard Mets fan. I have never been able to sit still for very long. I love to be outdoors, at the ballpark, beach, traveling, hitting tennis balls or home cooking a gourmet meal but this all came to a screeching halt due to chronic unceasing back and leg pain. Never have I experienced such debilitating pain in all my life. The absurdity!! I have no history of back pain. I am physically fit. I had no trauma to my spine. The paradox!

After months of conventional treatment, an MRI revealed severe, very progressive degeneration of L5-S1 and other related issues. Subsequent MRIs also showed a torn labrum on my left hip. After isolating the pain with the use of hydrocortisone injections in my hip, my HSS surgeons (Dr.Sandhu, Dr. Mayman) were confident that the bulk of the pain was from the back issue. Dr. Sandhu and I, after several meetings and discussions decided to go with the much less invasive discectomy rather than a spinal fusion. We knew that the possibility existed that I may ultimately need the fusion but trying the less invasive surgery made the most sense.

My surgery was in February, 2010. I must admit, I was very nervous as I never had any type of surgery. I never had anesthesia. I near spent a night in the hospital. I knew I was in the best hands. I was very confident in my surgeon and yet, I was still a nervous wreck. HSS set up my pre-op schedule which included chest x-rays, EKG, blood tests, neurological tests and so on. It was a long day but I was overwhelmed by the professional, courteous, understanding and first-rate care that I received. My mind was eased a great deal. The day of surgery arrived, and from the moment we arrived at the hospital at 6am, I was treated as if I were the only patient they had. I have never been treated so well. It was mind boggling. One person was nicer than the next. My surgery went smoothly and I was very comfortable. My family was treated well and kept informed throughout.

I cannot emphasize enough the quality of care that I received. I cannot even find the words. I told my surgeon the next day, when he checked up on me, that my goal, once healthy would be to find a job at HSS and be part of such a dynamic team. My surgery, though successful did not give me enough relief. We are now in the process of scheduling my spinal fusion for July 2010. This is a much more invasive surgery and requires me to stay several nights at the hospital but my mind is at ease. I know what to expect and I know the care I will receive. I know that after the surgery, my HSS team will see me though my recovery process. I am very confident that I will be back to my old self in no time. I am very grateful for my surgeons and doctors at HSS. Incidentally, during one of our visits to HSS, we met the very gracious Mr. Fred Wilpon, who informed us that I was in the very best hands. That’s good enough for me.