John and Tiffanie say “Yes” to Pain-Free Futures Together
Summer was the time of the year I look forward to the most. My family and I would visit the Outer Banks in North Carolina to enjoy the season, whether it was walks along the beach, bike riding or swimming. It’s scary to think we almost had to stop our annual visits due to a severe pain in my back and my wife’s pain in her shoulder. Everyday tasks were already a burden, so a vacation would have been out of the question.
It all started with my wife Tiffanie…
Read about both Tiffanie and Johnny’s journeys to a pain-free future, below.
I’ve always been an active person, from playing sports as a teen to doing cardio and free weights as an adult. Being active was part of who I was. During a session at the gym, I was a little overconfident in my abilities and decided to increase the weight in my dumbbells to 10 and 15 lbs. Sometime after that session, I began to feel a pain in my shoulder that gradually worsened. It wasn’t until about a year later the pain became so unbearable, I couldn’t lift my arm past shoulder level! Everyday activities that required both hands became intolerable, including walking our boxer, Mia. Dealing with this discomfort hindered my abilities and began to mentally affect me. I enjoyed being active and this pain dictated what I could and could not do every day. I finally had enough and decided I need to get back to the old me.
After talking to friends, I decided to visit SMOC – Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center and consult one of their joint specialists, Dr. Anthony Bevilacqua. Having a previous experience with SMOC by chance when I broke my hand from an accidental fall a few years prior, I knew I was in the best hands!
During my appointment, Dr. Bevilacqua ordered an MRI and discovered I had a torn labrum, torn bicep tendon, and torn rotator cuff. Although John and I were apprehensive about the surgery, Dr. Bevilacqua put us both at ease. He was encouraging and optimistic about the procedures and the recovery phase. We knew when he said he would repair all the damage in my shoulder, it was going to get done!
After the surgery, I underwent four months of physical therapy. Although I couldn’t perform tasks that required both arms right away, Dr. Bevilacqua was very reassuring during every follow-up visit. He would remind me each time that I’d get my full range of motion back, to be patient, and not get discouraged. Eventually, he instructed me to get active again to break up the scar tissue.
Physical therapy and home exercises greatly helped my healing pain to go away, and I was able to get back to my normal, pain-free life. The physical therapists were always offering alternate and/or correct ways to exercise and encouraging me to stay active, as this was the best way for me to heal. Now, I’m back to power walking and using lighter hand weights.
I feel like the old me and I am thankful to Dr. Bevilacqua and the entire staff at SMOC for getting me there!
A few years after Tiffanie was back on her feet, I started experiencing severe back pains.
I remember vividly when the pain became my part of my daily routine: during an afternoon of yard work. I bent down to pick up an extension cord and the pain shot up from my lower back. It was so excruciating, Tiffanie had to help me into a chair! The intensity of the pain dwindled by the end of the day, but it didn’t completely subside.
One morning, I leaned into my car to put my coffee in the cupholder, when there it was again: pain in my lower back. From then on, I was cautious of picking up anything and became routinely stressed. Everything had to be done carefully, at home and at work. Even my engineering colleagues noticed the pain I struggled with, sometimes from just trying to sit down.
As a Director of Engineering overseeing 90 engineers, I didn’t have the time or energy to worry about my back.
I had enough, so I decided to find the solution. Although the idea of possibly needing surgery made me hesitant, Tiffanie reminded me of her experience with Dr. Bevilacqua and how far she had come after her surgery. I spoke with a few of our close friends who’ve, also, visited SMOC, and was recommended to Dr. Bryan Fox, a spine specialist.
Dr. Fox discovered I had a bulging disc. While I expressed my apprehension about surgery, he informed me that a non-surgical approach could help me. We agreed I would get an epidural cortizone injection, which he explained was used to treat inflammation related to back pain. With the injection, I’d be able to get back to my everyday activities without worrying about the pain. Being the type of person who didn’t want any pain medications or muscle relaxers, I knew this route would be the best fit for me.
After one injection, I was feeling like myself again! While many people may need another injection periodically to help them with their pain, one was all I needed. To this day, I haven’t gone back for a second one!
With the bulging disc no longer causing me pain and Tiffanie able to enjoy being active again, we can enjoy our lives like we had before! We’re able to go on our hikes, ride bikes, and enjoy the Windsor Castle Park trail with Mia. I don’t have that constant fear of pain in the back of mind anymore. I recommend Dr. Fox and SMOC to any and everyone! There is no need to work through the pain and wait for it to become unbearable.
Thank you, SMOC, for helping my wife and I say “YES” to life again!