Phone icon circle

After disc fix, Ridgefield couple make another run to Sturgis

Connie couldn’t be more pleased to be heading out on the back of her and her husband’s 2010 Harley Davidson FLHTK Electra Glide motorcycle for another one of their cross-country adventures.

One of her favorites, the 2,400-mile trip takes the couple through Mountain Home, Idaho, and Yellowstone National Park on the way to their ultimate destination—Sturgis, South Dakota.

Connie, 66 and a resident of Ridgefield, Washington, credits Dr. Nelson Saldua, a Vancouver Clinic orthopedic surgeon who has specialty training in spine surgery, with getting her back on the road.

Dr. Saldua performed a minimally invasive procedure known as a microdiscectomy to correct a herniated lumbar disc. The bulging disc was pressing on nearby nerves, causing pain that radiated from her lower back to her leg.

“Nerves hate being compressed so removing that compression results in a predictable relief of pain,” Dr. Saldua explained.

Connie doesn’t really know how she might’ve injured herself, just that the pain came on after a grocery shopping trip last December.

“I reached into the back of my car to pick up some bags and suddenly felt a lot of pain,” she said. “I thought I should just keep walking. Then it was like an ice pick stuck in my foot.”

The next day, she went to urgent care in extreme pain. She received pain medication but didn’t get much relief. She later tried physical therapy, chiropractic care, and cortisone shots, none of which made much difference.

Eventually, an MRI revealed the bulging disc near the lower end of her spine. She discussed her options with Dr. Saldua.

“He showed me what was going on. He suggested surgery or a pain clinic and told me it was my choice. He said, ‘I want you to go home and think about it,’” Connie said.

The decision took her all of a minute. When Dr. Saldua left the room and his nurse came in, Connie said to let Dr. Saldua know that she really wanted the surgery.

“Connie was a great surgery candidate because she has kept fairly active,” Dr. Saldua said. “This type of procedure, however, normally has a predictable, positive outcome.”

The very next week, Dr. Saldua’s office called to say they had a cancellation. On March 14, 2018, Connie headed into the operating room. When she woke, the first thing she remembers is being asked about her pain level.

“I was groggy but I remember saying ‘about a five,’” she said. A few minutes later, the nurse asked again. “By then, I could think clearly and I realized the pain was gone.”

Within three days, Connie was up and walking, pain free.

“That’s it. I was back to my life. I really can’t help but sing the praises of Dr. Saldua and his team. He and everybody else were very kind to my husband and me. I think he is just an amazing doctor,” Connie said. “We had been concerned about whether I’d be able to keep motorcycle riding. And after my surgery, my husband and I were both stunned at how fast I felt good.”

Now if it’s summertime or just a nice day, you can bet that Connie and her husband are on the open road.