My first concern was whether I had cancer. The neurosurgeon assured me the tumor was benign, but it was big and would have to be removed. His plan was to make a large incision in both my back and my stomach, which would require a long, probably painful recovery. Without the surgery, he said, I risked becoming paralyzed because the tumor was pressing on my spinal cord.
I wanted to be out running and playing with my two daughters, spending time with my wife, biking, and exercising as much as possible. I knew I needed surgery to return to a sense of normalcy – but I believed there had to be a better way.
The surgeon referred me to Dr. Carlos Bagley, Director of the Neurological Surgery Spine Program at UT Southwestern and an expert in minimally invasive spine surgery.
The consultation with Dr. Bagley was phenomenal. He and his team were confident they could get the tumor out without big incisions, and my recovery would be shorter and less painful. They explained every step of the process.
They would make a small incision in my back to approach the tumor. Then, they would remove the tumor from the inside out using ultrasonic vibration to “morselize” the tumor – gradually making it smaller until it fit through the small incision in my back.
That sounded a lot better to me than open surgery, so we scheduled the surgery for two weeks later.
‘I feel like I’m in my early 20s again’
I was prepared for up to six weeks of recovery, but I started feeling better a few days after surgery. I took the prescribed pain medication for two days and then switched to ibuprofen as needed. I gradually started walking more, and after five weeks, I felt so good I ran three miles.
Now that I’ve had the schwannoma tumor removed, I feel as if I'm in my early 20s again, even though I’m 45. Without Dr. Bagley and the O’Donnell Brain Institute team, I don’t know where I'd be today; I can run, lift weights, bike, and go on long walks with my family. I’m happier, well-rested, and able to enjoy life again.
As I continue to have follow-up visits, I can meet with Dr. Bagley at different clinic locations, based on what’s convenient for me. The team cares about my progress and my time, and they work around my schedule to make my life easier.
Making personalization a priority