Cathy Poage

Millbrook, AL

Conditions + Treatments

Medical Icon Spine Injury/Condition

My name is Cathy Poage, and I am eternally grateful to Dr. Daniel Kim for giving me my life back!

I've spent my entire life in the Montgomery, Alabama area. For 31 years I was in public education as a teacher, and finished my career working for the Alabama Department of Education in the Montgomery area prior to retiring a few years ago.

I started having back issues in my mid to late 20's. I had some problems with my L3, L4 and L5. At that time, I went to see a now-retired surgeon at the Hughston Sports Clinic in Columbus, GA. He performed a surgical procedure that is no longer FDA approved. However, I am grateful he performed the procedure on me because it provided me 40 years of relief from back pain.

I started have back pain again in the Summer of 2023. I began experiencing pain radiating down the left side of my body. Initially, I just took over-the-counter medication and applying cremes in an effort to curb and alleviate the constant pain and discomfort, while pushing through the pain.

However, in October I went to get up out of a chair, and I literally felt like “things shifted in my back.” It was the most unsettling feeling I’ve ever had in my life experiencing the feeling that my spine shifted within my body. After that incidence, it really started hurting. In hindsight, I think that's when three vertebrae collapsed, crashing the nerves in my spine.

In typical "Cathy fashion", I just kind of sucked it up and kept going. I tried just about anything and everything to try and relieve the pain - more over-the-counter medication, massages, stretching, chiropractic treatment and acupuncture..

My pain just steadily increased to the point that I couldn't sleep, I couldn't sit, I couldn't stand. I couldn't walk without being in excruciating pain, and nothing dulled the pain. I finally conceded and went to my primary care doctor. She recommended physical therapy, as well as some muscle relaxers because in addition to the pain, I was having horrible muscle spasms.

When I went to my physical therapist, Mike Ellis, I described my symptoms and he was a wonderful patient advocate. Mike did not want to touch me until I had the MRI. He worked with my primary care physician to get me approved for an MRI. Once we had the MRI done, it was confirmation that something was majorly wrong with my back.

While I was waiting for my MRI results, I decided beginning the process of finding a doctor at Andrews Sports Medicine. Dr. James Flanagan, who is now retired, replaced both of my hips in 2017 and I had a wonderful experience. I was determined to find a spine doctor at the practice, so I started Googling "Andrews Sports Medicine spine doctor” and discovered Dr. Daniel Kim, an orthopaedic spine surgeon who had recently joined the practice.

One of the things that was most impressive to me about Dr. Kim, was when I was researching and reading about him online, was his 4.9 Google rating. As a spine surgeon with 4.9 rating out of 5 speaks volumes to the type of doctor he is. After having experienced Dr. Kim firsthand, I absolutely believe no one is exaggerating anything written and every word of every review is 100% accurate.

After doing my research online, I spoke with Mike Ellis and told him that I'd like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kim. Once again, being a wonderful patient advocate, Mike assisted me in contacting Dr. Kim's staff. I spoke with Alyssa, who was very kind and helpful, and scheduled me for an appointment with Dr. Kim two weeks out.

I saw Dr. Kim at Andrews' Hoover Highway 150 clinic location. At my appointment Dr. Kim took at great deal of time not just tell me what my options were, but he started my appointment by listening to my history and current symptoms. Dr. Kim actually took the to show and discuss my MRI, basically giving me an anatomy lesson and explained the root of my problems in my spine.

At that point, he then gave me options, the pros and cons of both conservative and surgical options. Dr. Kim was very honest with me. He basically told me the endoscopic procedure was a last ditch effort not to have to do major reconstruction surgery on my back. I'll never forget those were his words, last ditch effort. Dr. Kim went into great detail explaining endoscopic spine surgery (ESS) is an ultra-minimally invasive, state-of-the-art surgery than utilizes an HD camera attached to an endoscope inserted through a 1/4 inch skin incision.

Before leaving the clinic, I made the decision for Dr. Kim to perform my outpatient ESS procedure in 3 weeks. My husband passed away a few years ago, so I had asked a friend to come with me for my initial appointment so she could be a second set of ears. As we started our drive home, she stated “Oh my gosh, Cathy, I can see why you drive two hours to Andrews Sports Medicine. Dr. Kim is amazing!”

Dr. Kim performed my spine surgery on February 13, 2024. While I was not scheduled to stay overnight in the hospital, I made the decision to spend the night in Birmingham at a nearby hotel to keep from riding back home 2 hours after Dr. Kim performed my procedure. My friend and I spent the night in the hotel, and the next morning she drove us back home to Millbrook.

Obviously, there was discomfort after the surgery; however, the pain that had been radiating down my left side was alleviated. While the pain was not 100% completely gone, it was immediately a noticeable difference. Over the next several weeks, my pain dissipated. Today, I will not say that I am pain free, but I would basically call it just it's a little discomfort compared to what it was. I can live with this every single day of my life. I mean, a lot of times I don't take it all, you know.

Following surgery, Dr. Kim recommended that rest and moderate, controlled activity was best for an optimal recovery. For the first two weeks, my routine was limited to sitting for short intervals of time and walking short distances, but then increasing the time in short increments.

At my two week post-op appointment, Dr. Kim basically told me that I could do what I wanted within reason, and he was not going to put me on limitations. If I felt like I could sit more than 30 minutes, I could sit longer. I could walk farther than I had been walking to do it, just to let my body be my guide. After two weeks, things really turned quickly improved. My recovery, especially the last four weeks, was just incredible. You would not really know that I had surgery other than the fact that I don't hurt anymore.

Today, I am grateful that I now have my life back. I'm very active in my community and the church. Prior to surgery, I could not travel because I couldn't sit in the car long enough to go anywhere, and I couldn't even go to the movies due to the prolonged sitting. I can now enjoy the simple things like going to the movies, shopping, cooking meals for friends, going to plays, traveling to see friends.

Reflecting back, I am extremely grateful to Dr. Kim for his big heart that shows through his compassion, communication, expertise and surgical skills. Thank you Dr. Kim for giving me my life back and helping me achieve Victory Over Injury!

Treatment Providers
Hide Providers
Dr. Daniel Kim
Daniel C. Kim, MD View Bio