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Once-avid golfer looking forward to hitting the links again


Jay riding his Raptor ATV

Over a decade ago, Jay went off a small cliff while skiing on Mt. Hood. He landed on his head, injured his neck, and still thanks his lucky stars he can walk. The incident was severe enough that he hung up his skis for good. Jay instead focused on his golf game, a sport he started at age 11. An avid and skilled player, Jay had a handicap of 11 at his peak. Unfortunately, following the skiing accident, swinging a golf club caused intense pain in Jay’s neck.

“I was playing up to three days a week, but it got to where it wasn’t enjoyable,” said Jay, who lives outside of Vancouver near Lake Merwin. “By the end of the game, the pain at the top of my backswing would drop me to my knees.”

To make matters worse, this year Jay ended up in an ATV mishap. It was a tipping point for the 50-year-old electrician. His pain became persistent and required prescription muscle relaxers, over-the-counter pain medicine, and daily ice packs. His primary care provider suggested he try various therapies to ease the pain.

When nothing gave him the relief he needed, Jay’s doctor referred him to Dr. Nelson Saldua, a Vancouver Clinic orthopedic surgeon specializing in spine surgery. Saldua diagnosed him with herniations of discs C5, C6, and C7 and suggested surgery. Jay didn’t take the recommendation lightly and sought opinions from additional surgeons.

After gathering information and weighing his options he decided to follow Saldua’s advice.

“What it came down to is, I was 50 years old and I decided I wasn’t really living the way I wanted to live,” he said.

He also felt Saldua was highly qualified.

“I read his biography and saw he was a military veteran who served in the Middle East and treated soldiers wounded in battle,” he said. “I realized he’s seen and dealt with cases a whole lot worse than mine.”

Jay had surgery this May.

“It went way smoother than I expected,” he said. “When I woke up, the symptoms were pretty much gone. I didn’t even need the prescription painkillers.”

Today, Jay is pain free and looking forward to getting back into golf come spring. Dr. Saldua has already given him a green light for getting back on the golf course.

“Jay is doing great,” Saldua said. “He has healed well, followed instructions, and is doing a good job of rebuilding his strength.”