ValleyCare Nurse Gets Back on Her Feet After Spine Surgery
An avid bicyclist, hiker, swimmer and home remodeling enthusiast, Nancy Kremer, RN works as a post-operative nurse at Stanford Health Care – ValleyCare. Trading places with her patients was never in her plans, but that happened a few years ago as Nancy underwent surgery to repair a neck injury.
For Nancy, it started with an especially hard swim workout, after which she boarded a plane for the East Coast and spent the weekend installing a drop ceiling in her in-laws’ house. That combination of activity led to a ruptured disc and a pinched nerve between her C7 and T1 vertebrae. She developed instant, excruciating pain in her right arm.
Rather than visit an ER in New York, Nancy flew home in pain, reported for work the next day, and sought out advice from the spine surgeons at Stanford Health Care - ValleyCare. The doctors both told her the same thing: it was necessary to un-pinch her nerve.
An epidural block and steroid injection cured the nerve pain, but the injury to her spine was affecting Nancy’s ability to use her thumb. She no longer had enough strength to even pinch. As a nurse who relies on her hands to provide care, working without a thumb was a deal breaker.
Nancy underwent surgery to fuse her spine in November 2013 and returned to work two months later. After 12 years as a Post Anesthesia Recovery Unit (PACU) nurse at ValleyCare, Nancy felt totally secure with the care she would receive from her co-workers, recovery staff and surgeons. “I knew they were all excellent,” she said. The team at ValleyCare treated her as they do every patient undergoing surgery, she said. “They explained every step of the process in detail.”
Today Nancy is back at work full-time, and back to remodeling her home. Since regaining the strength in her thumb, she has helped her husband build a new dining room and remodeled the kitchen. She says her successful recovery is not unusual. “So many of our spine patients have good outcomes,” said Nancy. “I think we do a really good job. It's a great program.”