Spine surgery delivers sweet relief

Donovan’s story– the best decision I’ve ever made

Living on 64 acres, Donovan Coffey loves being outside and taking care of the land. That’s how he discovered his passion: raising honey bees.

“It really puts me in touch with nature,” Donovan says. “It’s a very pleasant experience.”

That is, until he felt pain in his left shoulder. Donovan thought it was a strain from working out, so he took a few weeks off from exercise. Still, the pain got worse and started to spread.

“Those hive boxes weigh about 60 pounds apiece,” Donovan says. “When you have pain in your neck and down your arm, it is a fairly unbearable task to pry those boxes off and extract honey from them.”

Pain is a burden for the whole family

Donovan’s doctor could see that pressure on the spine was causing the pain. But over the next eight months, a regimen of physical therapy didn’t help, and neither did cortisone shots.

The pain was stealing away all of the things he enjoyed, like spending time with family. Tending to his colony of bees was out of the question.

“My son and my wife bore the brunt of helping me take care of that,” Donovan says. “Neither one of them said that they minded, but they don’t enjoy keeping bees. So not only was that a burden on them, but it was something that I was not able to enjoy.”

Ready for spine surgery

Donovan asked his doctor for a referral to University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, where he met with Cassim Igram, MD, a spine surgery specialist who recommended disk fusion surgery.

“My intention was to beg him for surgery, but I didn’t have to do that,” Donovan says. “He made that an option for me.”

The procedure was successful. In fact, when Donovan awoke in the recovery room, he was eager to get moving again.

“The pain relief was instantaneous,” he says. “I was like, ‘Just give me my clothes. I’m ready to go. The pain’s gone. Let’s get back to life.’”

100 percent normal

Now Donovan is back to doing all of the activities he loves — not just beekeeping, but also running, biking, wrestling with his son, landscaping, and more.

“There has been no pain,” he says. “There’s been no thinking twice about doing something. I feel absolutely, 100 percent normal.”

Choosing to have spine surgery at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, Donovan says, “was clearly the best decision, from a medical standpoint, that I’ve ever made.”

Galena, Ill.