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“Recovery was easy. I was out of pain.”

~Kathy Cleary

Kathy smiling with horse gear over her shoulder.

Back Surgery Leads to Vitality in Retirement

Kathy Cleary has led a full and active life, working as a dental assistant, a receptionist and a housekeeper for the musician John Denver before opening Toujours Boutique in Newport, a store she ran for 21 years. 

She also keeps and rides horses. That’s how she first injured her back when she was thrown off a horse. 

“I hit a fence,” Cleary recalled. “I think that started the process.”

Arthritis and aging did the rest.

But thanks to successful surgery to repair spinal stenosis, a painful condition caused by wear and tear, Cleary is now enjoying retirement and back to riding. 

Cleary first had spinal fusion, a type of back surgery to fix problems with the bones in her spine, in 2012. But after several years of relief, her lower back pain returned in 2018. 

Two factors complicated matters. 

First, Cleary’s previous surgeon had retired. Second, she wanted to avoid an adverse reaction to anesthesia following her first surgery.

A smiling Kathy leading a horse by its bridle.

So Cleary did what a lot of people do. She went online and read patient reviews. 

She liked what she saw about J. Noonan, MD, of Samaritan Neurosurgery in Corvallis. 

“You know, I’ll give him a try,” she said. 

At her first appointment, Dr. Noonan listened attentively. 

“When you go in, it’s very scary,” Cleary recalled. “He was very reassuring.”

Cleary talked about her post-operative cognitive dysfunction symptoms and her problems with balance and speech after the last surgery.

“We’ll figure this out,” Dr. Noonan assured Cleary. 

He reviewed her medical records and referred her for neuropsychology testing. He also arranged for Cleary to meet with an anesthesiologist.

“Life is good.”

~Kathy Cleary

Kathy laughs as she and her horse stop for a close up photo.

“He was very proactive in figuring this out,” Cleary said. “I was over-the-top impressed.”

The surgery was a success. 

“Everything went swimmingly,” Cleary said. 

She was prepared to take up to two weeks off work. But she was back in just six days. 

At age 72, Cleary was looking to slow down. And with her recovery complete, the timing for retirement felt right. 

“It really was time to retire,” she said.

So she recently closed shop and moved to Phoenix. 

“Life is good,” Cleary reports from her new home in the desert sunshine.

While she hopes she never has to have back surgery again, without hesitation she recommends Dr. Noonan and Samaritan Neurosurgery. 

“Besides his extreme talent as a surgeon, he listens to you,” Cleary said. “I really appreciate that.”

Spinal Stenosis Most Often From Degenerative Aging Process

The spine is the main support of our upper bodies and protects the spinal cord. The nerves branch out from our spine to the rest of our bodies. With spinal stenosis, the spinal cord passageway narrows. If you are having problems with movement, numbness or pain in your back, talk with your doctor.

Surgery for the Spine & Brain

Neurosurgery services for the treatment of brain, spine and peripheral nerve injuries and disease are one of Samaritan’s key specialties. If you are someone close to you has suffered from a stroke or other neurological disorder, rest assured that advanced care is available close to home.

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