Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A Master Magician..A True Healer

I came across this post yesterday on Facebook. Dr. El Abd and Dr. Gomba were cited as Boston Magazine's Top Doctors for 2020.

They are the doctors at Newton Wellesley Interventional Spine.

In January of 2007, I was referred to Dr. El Abd after having had an MRI of my cervical spine as part of my evaluation at Spaulding Rehab's International Center for Polio and Post Polio.

Thirteen years later, I feel the heart imprint that this healer left from my first appointment with him.

From "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility":

In January of 2007, I told my team at work the diagnosis. I had a team meeting at Spaulding Rehab with each of my therapists. Multidisciplinary team communication and coordination of care is a hallmark feature of the post polio clinic to ensure that the whole patient is being cared for. One of the nurse practitioners at the VA thought that I had Parkinson’s Disease because of my tremors. She was relieved that it was nothing more serious than post polio syndrome. I told my nurse manager that I would have to use a lot of leave time for my therapy appointments. It was extremely painful for me to give up the time with my patients when I would bring them to different clinic stops, but it was becoming much less about the patients and more about me. If I couldn’t take care of myself, how did I expect to care for my patients and their families?

“I have the results of your MRI,” the voicemail message from Dr. Rosenberg began.

I felt the familiar feeling of my stomach dropping as though we had dropped altitude in an airplane; tremors and trembling took hold. I closed the door to my office on the second floor of the Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic. As he rambled off the results I tried to slow my heart rate and my brain to understand what he was saying. He told me I needed to schedule a consultation with Dr. El Abd at the Newton Wellesley Hospital Spine Center.

“I believe a trigger injection will bring you some relief.”

I let the word sink in. Relief. There was something that could bring me relief from this pain and suffering? I wondered….

“This is a slam dunk,” Dr. Omar El Abd the incredibly handsome Egyptian doctor told me as he reviewed my MRI results with me.

“Let me explain to you what I’m going to do. You have a bulging disc pressing on your nerve at C-6 in your cervical spine. This is what is causing the pain down your arm, the tingling in your face and those throbbing sensations in your gums and teeth. We do what is called a trigger injection. First we inject numbing medication, which will bring you instant relief. We follow up with injecting steroids, which will
decrease the inflammation and bring you longer lasting relief.”

The thought of having a needle stuck in my cervical spine did not appeal to me but I knew that I had to try something!

“How long have you had this pain?”

“Oh at least ten years,” I answered.

“Why so long? Why didn’t you tell anyone about it?” Dr. El Abd asked horrified that I would allow myself to suffer for so long.

Good question I thought to myself.

From that day forward, he became my Master Magician!

After a few injections that brought incredible relief, he referred me to Allison Poole, an earth angel of a physical therapist at the old Spaulding Rehab Hospital in downtown Boston closer than Spaulding Framingham to the VA Clinic. She believed that I was NOT destined to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life and helped me take those first tentative steps back to life and back to healing the breach in my mind/body connection.

After I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon, cervical spine symptoms returned and so I returned to Dr. El Abd. I had done a lot of work with healing the effects of paralytic polio and trauma and transforming my life through the power of the mind/body connection using visualization and guided imagery. Rather than chastise me for going against the advice of the staff at the Post Polio Clinic, he congratulated me on my epic accomplishment citing that he totally understood why I needed to challenge myself.

After my 2nd injection, I asked him to please show me what I needed to heal in my cervical spine using a model so I would no longer need follow up injections. As I sat in the recovery room, he brought out a model of the spine explaining in detail what I needed to heal and we discussed imagery that would be helpful in this process. Eleven years later I am free from cervical spine pain and symptoms, and did not have a trigger injection since that day!

He referred me for physical therapy with a wonderful no nonsense PT who told me that if I were going to get back on the roads, I needed to take time off. We did what I'd call an extreme makeover Post Polio edition addressing posture, gait, core strength and ways to cross train.

The next summer I was back on the roads better than ever!

If you or someone you love is experiencing spine issues, and you live in the greater Boston area, be sure to head to Dr. El Abd who is THE top doc for healing in my book.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Be inspired by my interview with Kendra Petrone on the award winning Exceptional Women Show by following this link

To experience an epic race weekend and hear me share my journey from a wheelchair to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond come to the Hyannis Marathon Weekend February 21-23 2020.

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