*feel free to skip to the bottom where information on surgery and costs is or take a read over what the last 20 months have included
A little back story:
Joey is a hard worker and a member of Plumbers & Gasfitters Local 5 Union. He has been building new construction and putting in plumbing for over 15 years. He has assisted as a wrestling coach on and off since he graduated from George C Marshall High School in McLean, VA. Stopping in for wrestling meets when he wasn't able to coach but wanted to show his support. Perhaps, you recognize him and his contagious smile or can hear his laugh from around good ol' Pimmit Hills, Va or another place in Northern Virginia. Maybe you met him while he lived in Titusville, FL where he did residential work with Orange Plumbing. Perhaps you even met him at Bonnaroo on Festival Parking staff. Where he saved the day and defended our camps honor!
Here's the thing about that smile and laugh while still present they are fading fast.
In October of 2015 Joey was digging a ditch, the same type of work he's done for years but somehow he managed to injure his lower back. He tried to "manage" the pain for a month or so by stretching, continuing to try to be active, and taking a lot of Advil but he ended up seeking medical attention. He was unable to sit for more than 10 minutes at a time, he couldn't lay on his back or side at all, he could no longer fully function at work, the pain radiating down his left leg got worse and he had to find new ways to put on his socks and shoes. He never stopped going to work though!In November of '15 he had a MRI performed where they diagnosed him with herniated disc in his lower back (L4-L5). They believe it was from the repetitive act of ground work that is so often how a major construction job starts.
Fast forward to the present 20 months later. The pain had become debilitating... Joey continues to go to work every single day including weekends and he is helping our former landlords finish the basement bathroom. However, once the day is done there is no "work hard, play harder". He works and comes home to lay down and take pain medications to subside the pain. Then he gets up and does it again.
A brief list of the medical procedures and therapeutic interventions:
- Multiple MRIs
- Epidural - Nerve blocks
- Steroid injections (every 3 months since Dec '15)
- Multiple rounds of Physical Therapy (where they praise him for saying active and finding ways to keep his core strong! So important when your back is injured)
- Medications ranging from Muscle relaxers, nerve inhibitors, pain relievers, patches with lidocaine and opioids in them - consults with many surgeons
While the pain gets worse Joey has been hesitant to have the "traditional" spinal surgery. If you have ever known someone who has had one (my own father had 9!) they will tell you how difficult it is. How the recovery is rough, the pain doesn't just "go away". The return to normal activity is not generally so simple. When a traditional surgery occurs they have to remove healthy bone and tissue from the spinal column to get to the area of the spine that is herniated. In doing this the spinal cords structure is compromised. The reoccurrence or change to re-injure the spine is high. Additionally, with the fusion and cage methods of spinal surgery you lose flexibility due to the metal holding the spine in place. You also raise your chances for bone fractures, etc. You are welcome to read about spinal surgery for all the details.
But, with medicine being ever changing there is new surgical procedures! The one we think is his best option has been approved by the FDA since 2001. SonoSpine was founded by Dr. Ellegala They use a minimally invasive approach (no huge incisions) and ultrasound technology (think what the dentist uses to clean your teeth). They make about a 1 inch incision, use a surgical microscope to look into the spinal cord, use the high frequency tip to precisely remove bone and disc that are impinging on the nerve.
To quote their page- "Studies show that 65 percent of SonoSpine® patients see complete pain resolution after just four weeks. And 88 percent of patients perceive their post-surgery results as excellent, while the national average resides at just 56 percent."
What it comes down to is cost. This surgery is $27,000. In all honesty for a surgery that is not much at all. But, Insurance does not cover this procedure. So many ask me why?! The answer is simple It doesn't benefit them. Insurance companies make money off premiums and keeping people coming back. Aka sick. While you may not totally agree with this if you have ever gotten the bills in the mail following seeing your doctor for something simple, you understand. Most spinal surgery costs upwards of $100,000 or more. That is not including follow up care, medications, physical therapy, etc. That is just the cost for OR, Dr and Nurses time, equipment, etc.
We need your help!!! Even after saving for months there is no quick way to get $27,000. With the debt already acquired from prior medical interventions and taking off 8 weeks of work for recovery, we have hit a stand still. We know money doesn't grown on trees and we all have struggles but any little bit would be appreciated. I'm starting the goal at $10,000 and anything more would be amazing!
Please please share with anyone you know who knows Joey or would like to help support this cause. There are not words for how grateful the support from friends and family has been over these last few months. Your continued support will not go unnoticed.