Patient Stories

B. Thomas Mazahery, MD

When Patson first felt neck pain, he dismissed it as a minor nuisance. But the pain worsened over time and the 41-year-old Annandale resident sought treatment at a number of local hospital emergency rooms. “Each time, they told me it was nothing serious and sent me home,” he recalls. After a long drive from North Carolina, the pain became so acute he called 911 to take him to the emergency room once again. There, an MRI revealed the worst: a huge herniated disc was crushing his spinal cord.

The radiologist immediately called OrthoVirginia surgeon Thomas Mazahery, MD, who rushed to the emergency room. When he got there, Patson was almost completely paralyzed. He had no sensation from the waist down and no motion in his legs.

Patson’s prognosis was poor. As he prepped for emergency surgery, Dr. Mazahery delivered the difficult news: Patson might never walk again. During the five-hour procedure, Dr. Mazahery performed a corpectomy to decompress Patson’s spine, removed two discs, and reconstructed his cervical spine with a bone graft. Time was of the essence because his spinal cord had shut down completely.

“OrthoVirginia’s integrated approach enabled me to recover completely,” says the Zimbabwe native. “Now my pain is gone and I can do anything I want. I walk two miles a day. I can sleep. I have my quality of life back.”

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. When Patson woke up from surgery, he felt sensation in his legs. When he left the hospital four days later, the full strength of his legs had returned. Physical therapy helped him walk again and occupational therapy helped him regain his speech. “OrthoVirginia’s integrated approach enabled me to recover completely,” says the Zimbabwe native. “Now my pain is gone and I can do anything I want. I walk two miles a day. I can sleep. I have my quality of life back.”

With Dr. Mazahery’s blessing, Patson will realize a dream later this spring when he moves to North Carolina to become a NASCAR mechanic.