Share this

font size Down Arrow Up arrow

Diane Jackson

Mobility is key to her busy lifestyle

Several years ago, Diane Jackson had a lumbar laminectomy and spinal fusion, performed by Andrew Merola, M.D., an orthopedic spinal reconstructive surgeon with NYM's Spine & Arthritis Center. A laminectomy involves the removal of part of the lumbar vertebrae the bones of the lower spinal column in order to decrease pressure on the spinal nerves.

In Diane's case, an arthritic vertebra was irritating these nerves. After the laminectomy, the surrounding vertebrae were fused together to prevent further irritation. Once recovered from this surgery, Diane remembers, "I felt free as a bird! I was so happy...no cane or anything. I felt great!"

It felt so good to feel like herself again. Her nickname in the operating room had been Action Jackson so when she started falling unexpectedly, Diane chose to dismiss it. "I told myself I'd walk with a cane if I needed to, I just didn't want another surgery!"  

But then she developed unexplainable incontinence, and she knew she could no longer ignore her situation. Finally, she gave in and called Dr. Merola.

Dr. Merola ordered an MRI of my neck, back and lower spine, and when he saw that my spinal cord was compromised, he sent me directly to Martin Zonenshayn, M.D., chief of neurosurgery at NYM.

"He knew that if I didn't see Dr. Zonenshayn the same day, I'd probably never see him. I was in such denial." Diane needed another surgery on her spinal column. This time a vertebra in her neck was pressing against her spinal cord and causing her symptoms. "In fact, the spinal cord in Diane's neck was so compressed that nothing short of a complete removal of one of her vertebra would have sufficed," says Dr. Zonenshayn.

Dr. Zonenshayn and Dr. Merola worked together during Diane's surgery: Dr. Zonenshayn removed the vertebral bone to relieve the pressure on the spinal nerves, and Dr. Merola quickly rebuilt the affected spinal column to ensure stability. It was a home run in terms of teamwork. "We were both able to focus on our specialties while working toward a common goal the best possible outcome for Diane,"  Dr. Merola remembers.

Dr. Zonenshayn adds that the good news was that something could be done to rectify her situation and significantly improve the quality of her life. "With Diane's strong will and her joyful spirit, I expected nothing less than a great outcome. I'm glad she put her faith in New York Methodist Hospital and Im glad I had a small part in, quite literally, putting her back on her feet."

"I loved my hospital stay, and I was very happy with my doctors. I believe that life doesn't give me more than I can handle, and if I am going to be in the Hospital, I am going to do what I need to do to get better. New York Methodist has a great rehabilitation unit, and I took full advantage of their resources to get back into shape. I was so afraid of having another surgery, but NYM reassured me and took good care of me," says Diane.

Diane is now retired from nursing but remains on the go, taking care of her very active toddler grandson. "If I ever needed to be Action Jackson, it is now!" Diane says, laughing. "I am so happy to have my freedom of movement back and to be able to enjoy this special time in my life."

Read more about Diane Jackson in the 2008 NYM Annual Report.