In late December 2018, Teri Connors of Center Moriches was experiencing tightness in her lower back. The next day, she was immobilized in pain. She sought relief from various local providers including a nearby walk-in clinic, an orthopedic surgeon, and a local emergency room. None of them could diagnose her problem and give her the relief she desperately needed. Terri’s boyfriend Al started to look for other providers online and he found the Back & Neck Pain Center at Mather Hospital. They scheduled an appointment for the next day.
Cindy Price, NP, the nurse navigator at the Back & Neck Pain Center, got Teri in for an MRI right away. “I can’t even describe the pain I experienced just to get me on the table for the scan, I was screaming,” she said. On their way home from the scans, Teri and Al got the call from Cindy explaining she had an aggressive infection in her spine called vertebral osteomyelitis and discitis that spread into her bloodstream. Cindy told Teri to go to Mather’s Emergency Room immediately where additional imaging studies were done to see if the infection had spread to her heart or brain.
Luckily it had not. Neurosurgeon Stephen Leon, MD, came in to explain the results of the studies and plans for two surgeries to remove the infection and the discs in her spine that were comprised as a result.
“When Dr. Leon went to remove the discs, he said the infection was so aggressive that they crumbled in his hands,” she said. So, he replaced them with titanium discs. The surgeries were followed by a month of inpatient rehabilitation and a long course of antibiotics.
“During my first surgery, you’d think I would be nervous, but I wasn’t. I was so grateful that I was in good care,” she said. “Cindy really went above and beyond for me and Dr. Leon is an excellent doctor. He is honest and direct and answered all of our questions.”
Teri is now back working as a real estate agent and a life coach. And just 5 months after walking into Mather’s Back & Neck Pain Center, she walked down the aisle pain free and married Al.