Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Neurosurgery at MMC Gets Patient Back on Her Feet, Out of Grizzlies’ Path
Whether she's picking up a riding lawn mower at her home
or escaping from bears in Alaska, Criste Tiegs of Lenoir City lives an active
life. Sometimes it gets her into trouble, as it did the day one of her boys
lifted the family's riding lawn mower to remove grass caught up in it, and she
decided to help.
Within a few short months after neurosurgery, Criste Tiegs regained her ability
to walk more than a few steps without pain and has returned to biking and
"The mower weighed
more than I did, and as I started to set it down, I went flying over it and an
upturned rake, and landed on my bottom," the 53-year-old said. The fall
compressed her spine. Spinal compression can cause pain, numbness, tingling,
weakness and unsteadiness, and in severe cases, paralysis and problems with
bladder and bowel function.
seriousness of her injury, Tiegs decided to have surgery in a large city
hospital and chose a surgeon in Nashville.
She did fairly well for about three
months after surgery. "Then the pain came back. It was sharp. I'd walk about 20
feet and just cry."
"I should have done
my research more carefully," Tiegs noted wryly.
For her additional surgery, she chose
Dr. John Whitley and Methodist
Medical Center based on the excellent outcome a family friend had
experienced. Dr. Whitley performed two procedures on Tiegs. The first was to
remove the scar tissue that developed following the initial surgery and the
second was to decompress her spine.
Tiegs spent two nights at Methodist after surgery.
"Now, I'm back fishing, hiking, riding
my bike and running from bears in Alaska," Tiegs said. "There was no way before
my last surgeries."
Her escape from a
grizzly bear occurred one day this spring as she fished off the bank of the
Russian River. "Suddenly, people around me began to yell, 'BEAR!' A large bear
was eating fish that other fishermen had caught and strung on a line, and it was
walking right towards me. I couldn't see it, but my husband, who was fishing
downstream from me, could.
reached my side, and we grabbed our gear and climbed up a seven-foot gravel
embankment to the road. When we reached the top, the bear was on another
embankment directly across the road. He looked down at us for just a moment and
then walked away. We gathered up our fishing gear and headed straight to the car
just as some rafters spotted another bear."
That isn't bad for someone who
recently had a compressed spine.
"Our goal is to restore you to the fullness and quality of life that you enjoyed
before you ever needed our services," Dr. Whitley said. "In short, we want to
get you back to normal."
more about neurosurgery services at Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, call 1-800-468-6767
or go online to www.mmcoakridge.com.