Retired teacher back to biking three months after spine surgery

May 30, 2019

GOSHEN, Ind. – An X-ray of Jim Marks’ spinal column told quite a story about a lifetime of activity. Tell-tale signs of arthritis and natural deterioration also explained the pain and instability in his legs.
 
The retired teacher, coach and guidance counselor had been active all his life. Last fall, he began noticing nagging pain in his hips. Then he started to lose control of his legs and trip himself when his right toe hit his left foot.

Marks thought he may need a hip replacement when he went to Goshen Physicians Orthopedics & Sports Medicine for an initial consultation. One look at Marks’ X-ray and Orthopedic Surgeon Arjuna Cuddeback, DO, knew Marks didn’t need joint replacement. His lower spine was weak and structurally unsound from a narrowing of the spine, called stenosis.
 
That’s when Dr. Cuddeback brought in Orthopedic Spine Surgeon Michael Hartman, MD, to talk with Marks about his condition.
 
“Dr. Hartman told me I had a lot of mileage on my spinal column,” explained Marks. “I agreed after seeing the X-ray.”
 
Learning the path to pain relief
 
Marks, 75, learned he needed back surgery or he would end up in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The former teacher also learned he needed to follow instructions before, during and after surgery to get himself back on the road to recovery.
 
“We go over a list of ‘dos and don’ts’ with every patient before surgery,” explained Sharon Adams, RN. “Patients have to be in the right mindset for surgery – emotionally and psychologically.”
 
Marks wanted to go into surgery as prepared as possible. He never hesitated to ask questions during appointments with his medical team. Usually he brought along Nancy, his high school sweetheart and wife of 54 years, to listen and learn with him.
 
“Everyone was very thorough in explaining what was going to happen,” he said. “They coordinated everything between the orthopedic center and hospital.”
  
On the move again
 
With five plates, two rods, 10 screws and a four-level fusion in his lower spinal canal, Marks continues to follow instructions as he heals from surgery. His daughter Carol Anderson stepped into the role of his personal coach, making sure he completes his daily walks, physical therapy and at-home exercises.
 
Three months after surgery, Marks returned to an activity he missed the most, riding his bike. Now he’s looking forward to biking to his favorite destination – the ice cream shop 25 miles from home.
 
When he gets there, he’ll make sure to show everyone the copy of his post-surgery X-ray that he keeps it in his back pocket. He hopes it may inspire others to seek medical help like he did and get back to the simple pleasures of life.
 
Three months after spine surgery, Jim Marks returned to an activity he missed the most, riding his bike.


Three months after spine surgery, Jim Marks returned to an activity he missed the most, riding his bike.
 
Three months after spine surgery, Jim Marks returned to an activity he missed the most, riding his bike.
 
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About Goshen Health:
Goshen Health is a community-owned, nonprofit healthcare organization committed to improving the health of its communities. To live out the organization’s mission, Colleagues practice compassion, accountability, respect and excellence in every endeavor. The health system includes 38 locations across four counties with specialized cancer care; heart and vascular care; and a physician’s network with primary and specialty care.
 
For more information about Goshen Health, contact Liz Fisher at (574) 364-2776, lfisher2@goshenhealth.com or visit www.GoshenHealth.com.