Pat’s Back on Track, Running for Life

Pat Lencioni is an active guy. He moves more than the average person, running almost daily and Pat has completed 12 marathons. He golfs. Plus he’s active with his family and friends. When lower back pain that traveled into his left leg began in September 2018, Pat was at a standstill.

“I was in constant pain,” he said. “I could barely sit. My wife and I took a trip to visit my kids in college, which is nine hours away. I had to lay in the back seat like a dog because I couldn’t sit normally for more than 15 minutes.”

At work, Pat would stand in the back of the room during meetings. He tried everything – physical therapy, ibuprofen and pain injections. Nothing worked.

“I had a low quality of life,” Pat said. “I needed to do something to function, and I really wanted to run again.”

Pat made an appointment with Douglas Geiger, MD of St. Joe’s Medical Group, Michigan Brain and Spine. He had seen Dr. Geiger ten years earlier for a herniated disc. This time, the diagnosis was a little different.

“Pat needed a lumbar microdiscetomy to treat the severe pain and weakness he was experiencing,” Douglas Geiger, MD said. “This minimally invasive surgery relieved the pressure on a spinal nerve root that was causing the pain to shoot through his leg.”

Pat quickly scheduled his surgery at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea with Dr. Geiger. The sooner he could return to his active lifestyle, the better.

That December, Pat arrived at St. Joe’s Chelsea for an early morning surgery. By the time he left, Pat was a different person.

“When I woke up from surgery a couple hours after it began, I was pain free,” Pat said. “I remember waking up and crying to my wife. I couldn’t believe the relief was instantaneous. The surgery couldn’t have gone any better. The experience was incredible all the way around – from the results to the people who cared for me. It was phenomenal.”

Pat’s procedure was minimally invasive and outpatient – he was released from the hospital hours after his surgery. He waited five weeks to start running to ensure everything was healed. But, he quickly put his back to the test. In mid-January, Pat decided to run the Boston Marathon that April. He had 12 weeks to get his body into marathon shape. Usually, runners train 16 to 18 weeks before a marathon.  

“I knew it was going to be tough,” Pat said. “But it was something I really needed to do for myself.”

Pat finished the Boston Marathon that year and he was pain-free. “I wasn’t as fast as the year before, but I did it. It was such a sense of accomplishment for me,” Pat said. 

Pat knows how fortunate he is – his wife was a constant support before and after surgery. And, in Dr. Geiger, Pat found a way to run again.

“I wouldn’t have been able to run, let alone run a marathon without Dr. Geiger and the surgery,” Pat said. “I’m back to normal – it’s almost like the back pain and surgery didn’t happen. I’m grateful.”

To learn more about the St. Joe’s Spine program or request an appointment, please visit our website.

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