Jose Bourbois's Sciatica Story

Jose leaving Stanford after his spinal fusion surgery

Finding the Right Treatment:

At only 30 years old, I had already dealt with a debilitating condition for the majority of my life. I was diagnosed with a bulging disk in my L4-L5 that was pinching the sciatic nerve. I had two surgeries to try and fix the problem and relieve the pain I would get from my sciatica, but they didn't work. I also tried epidural injections which would help for a few months and I'd feel somewhat normal, but that only made things worse when without any warning I'd wake up  in pain and unable to walk. The sciatica meant that I often couldn't work or sleep, and when it would get really bad I couldn't walk at all. I was even afraid to eat because I couldn't sit down, and I would then be afraid of having to use the restroom.

The day my life took a turn for the worse was on a Saturday. I woke up that morning and got dressed for work and continued with my usual routine, but this morning was different. I felt a very faint burning sensation in my calf but it wasn't bad so I ignored it. As the day progressed the burning sensation got worse but it was more of an annoyance then debilitating so I tried to walk it off, figuring I had the weekend to try and make it go away before work on Monday. By Sunday morning the burning traveled from my calf to my hip and became more intense. I took it easy that day and stayed off my feet still hoping it would go away on its own. When I woke up on Monday morning that's when it finally hit me, I couldn't get out of bed and the pain was excruciating. I tried to hide it from my wife because I felt embarrassed and I didn't want my daughter to see me hurting like that. I tried to continue my morning and get ready for work but after getting dressed my whole body began shaking so bad and all I remember is walking to the bathroom trying to fight the pain, but I never made it there. I had passed out and when I came to, I was on the floor with my wife and daughter both crying because they didn't know what was wrong. 

I spent the next few months in bed unable to walk even a few feet, unable to stand to shower, and unable to lay in any position other than on my back. I was too heavy for my wife to lift when needing to get medical help or prescriptions, and I was miserable, and physically and emotionally drained. I couldn't be a husband or father anymore, and I was starting to give up mentally. I was tired and afraid, and would dream about ending it all. It was then my wife found Dr. Anand Veeravagu at Stanford, and made me an appointment for the following week. Dr. Veeravagu gave me a prescription for a reclining wheelchair so I could finally lay down wherever I needed, and told me about my surgical options, including the need for computer assisted spinal stabilization. He believed it would help me. I was afraid and hesitant, but I agreed to try it.

Spine Surgery at Stanford:

After I woke up from the surgery I was instantly relieved, I felt no pain! I was ok! I was walking the same day I had the surgery and I was able to go home just two days after that. I stopped taking the prescribed pain medicine within three days of returning home and I still haven’t needed them. I don’t feel any pain, it’s amazing. I wish I had done the surgery sooner.

The staff at Stanford were the first people I’ve met that make me feel they actually see me as an individual and listen to what’s really going on. Dr. Veeravagu‘s assistant, Jessica Aikin, is especially welcoming and comforting, and I won’t go anywhere else for treatment. I wish there was a better way I can give back to the people who took care of me at Stanford to show my appreciation, words cannot describe how happy I am now.

Now pain-free and able to walk again, Jose can spend quality time with his family.

Life After Surgery:

Even writing this now I get emotional, because Dr. Veeravagu saved my life. I was mentally ready to give up and he gave me my life back. I’m able to be a father again and play with my daughter. I can walk without pain, I can sit and eat dinner without fear of using the restroom, I can sleep through the night and not be woken up by pain. I can be a husband again. The surgery not only fixed my back but it gave me a whole new outlook on life, and a better appreciation for the smallest of things like being able to go for a walk with my family. Thank you Dr. Veeravagu, thank you for giving me back my life and my family.

Written by: Jose Bourbois