Sheila Milliron – Posterior Lumbar Fusion Success Story

After successful back surgery, Sheila Milliron is well on her way back to her active life

Sheila Milliron "The nursing staff is awesome." – Sheila
Milliron, speaking about Methodist Richardson

From the summer 2011 edition of Shine magazine

Being active is just in Sheila Milliron's nature.

"I owned horses and rode; I was in kickboxing and aerobics," says the 48-year-old single mother of two college students. "I'd camp, hike, stand in the river and fly-fish, go white-water rafting with my kids, water-ski, and snow ski. I was very active."

In June 2008, she was in a car accident. She was buckled in the passenger's seat but sitting sideways to talk to the driver. The impact caused two compression fractures at the T12 and L1 vertebrae and a slightly bulging disk in her upper spine area.

"I was fitted with a lumbar brace," Milliron says. "After about six months, I was refitted with a thoracic-lumbar brace. It took about a year for the compression fractures to heal, but the pain in my lower back didn't go away."

Sheila Milliron dancingMethodist Richardson's spine care

Milliron went to see Brent Morgan, MD, an independently practicing neurosurgeon on the medical staff at Methodist Richardson Medical Center, and was diagnosed with degenerative disk disease in her lower lumbar area.

"We've been providing spine care at Methodist Richardson for 16 years, including taking care of complicated spine issues such as those of patients who have had prior procedures that need to be reevaluated or treated in a different way," Dr. Morgan says. "When possible, we try to take advantage of the minimally invasive techniques using small incisions so patients are out of the hospital quicker and recover faster.

"We are also performing techniques using spinal anesthesia, helping patients avoid some of the effects of general anesthesia, which we have found to be helpful."

Milliron says Dr. Morgan wanted to do everything possible to avoid surgery and referred her to a pain management specialist.

"I went to physical therapy and had epidural injections, a rhizotomy to sever the nerve roots, and finally a discography to identify the disks that were causing the pain," she says.

As a last resort, Dr. Morgan performed an open posterior lumbar fusion at Methodist Richardson in August 2010, removing the damaged disks and stabilizing her spine with titanium rods.

"The nursing staff is awesome," Milliron says of her patient experience at Methodist Richardson. "The people are very concerned and helpful. I had physical therapists who were really good at showing me how to maneuver without hurting myself."

Recovering one step at a time

"I'm working on getting my life back," says Milliron, who no longer requires pain management after her successful surgery.

"It's given me more patience," she adds. "Right now, I'm on bone-growth stimulators to fill in the area where the disks were removed. So I have to wait about a year to do some of the things I used to do. I can't horseback ride anymore, but I am back to square dancing and country dancing two to three times a week.

"My hope is to get back to camping, water-skiing, and snow skiing again. I know I'll have to take it easy. But that's okay, because I'll be doing it again. I've learned to appreciate what I have a lot more. I'm doing extremely well."

To find a physician on the Methodist Richardson medical staff, call 972-4 DR LINE.