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Nicole’s Story

Nicole’s Story: When Surgery Doesn't Mean Slowing Down

Nicole is an active 52-year-old wife and mother of two teenagers. She has a job that requires her to travel all over the world, from New York, to Europe and Australia. She is also a triathlete and has always been in good shape.

Four years ago, Nicole started having back and shoulder pain, and later experienced numbness in her arm. The pain got so bad it affected her ability to concentrate, her physical activity level and her travel. She was getting cortisone infusions and they were helping temporarily, but dragging bags through an airport wasn’t an easy task. Eventually, Nicole couldn’t even hold a cup. She had an MRI done and discovered that two discs in her neck had ruptured and they were compressing her spinal cord which was causing her pain and extreme numbness.

Having a background in nursing, Nicole researched the problem and decided she didn’t want to undergo spinal fusion surgery. She went to Dr. Jeffrey Coe, an orthopedic spine surgeon at El Camino Hospital Los Gatos who had performed surgery on her husband, to learn about treatment options. “Dr. Coe is an amazing surgeon and it is easy to have very open conversations with him. That is not always the case with surgeons,” Nicole explains.

Dr. Coe informed Nicole about the Mobi-C Artificial Cervical Disc and how it can be utilized at both levels of her neck making it a great alternative to fusion surgery. The Mobi-C Artificial Cervical Disc replaces diseased discs in the neck and is designed to maintain motion compared to fusion which is designed to prevent motion in the spine. He let her know that she was a suitable candidate for the procedure even though two-level cervical disc replacements are not commonplace.

Nicole decided to have the procedure and was the first patient at El Camino Hospital to receive a two-level artificial disc. She has only good things to say about her experience at El Camino Hospital Los Gatos and her care team. “The nurses were very caring and I appreciated everything they did for me. During my bouts of pain, I felt their compassion come through and they showed me a great deal of sympathy,” said Nicole. “Once home, I received a thank you card from the nurses who cared for me during my hospital stay. Everyone signed it and I thought it was the most beautiful thing they could do for me.”

Four weeks after her procedure, Nicole was feeling great and resumed most of her physical activity. Dr. Coe’s team made sure they were available to answer any questions she had following the procedure and Dr. Coe even called to check in with her to follow up on her progress.

Nicole is back at the gym and exercising regularly. She is 90% pain-free and playing tennis again. She is currently walking, but expects to be running again very soon.