Conditions + Treatments
I was born and raised in Tuscaloosa, AL. After graduating from the University of Alabama, I moved to Birmingham to start my career as a nurse. My husband and I have lived in Birmingham for more than 40 years, and when I retired from nursing I transitioned into a career as a professional artist. I have spent the past 20 years passionately managing my art studio – Jenny Cash Fine Art.
Our family has always been big fans of the University of Alabama athletics and were aware that Andrews Sports Medicine’s doctors treat the players with musculoskeletal injuries. However, it wasn’t until I became a patient of Andrews Sports Medicine in 2022 that I realized how blessed our city is to have one of the top orthopaedic practices in the world in our great city!
In March of 2022, my husband and I took a vacation to Israel. On the flight home, I started experiencing muscle spasms in my back. I dismissed the muscle spasms to being confined to my seat for the 15+ hour flight home. However, a few days later I woke up with an intense, sharp pain in my neck and numbness and tingling in my left arm. The pain, numbness and tingling intensified over the next few months. My quality of life continued to dwindle each and every day.
By June, my life was miserable and I was basically incapacitated to my couch. I tried to paint but was in some much pain I had to stop in matter of minutes I had to lay on the couch for hours to try to get some relief. I couldn’t pick up my grandkids, I couldn’t enjoy my passion of painting, my pain level would reach 10/10 and my life was miserable.
During my journey, I tried a few things on my own, including seeing my primary care physician, massage therapy, over-the-counter medications, steroid injections to physical therapy, all to no avail. Finally, my daughter, who taught Dr. Jeff Dugas’ children in middle school recommended I see a doctor at Andrews Sports Medicine.
In August, I called and spoke with an Andrews Sports Medicine appointment scheduler who gathered my medical history and suggested I be initially seen by Daryl Flanagan, PA-C who works alongside non-surgical, interventional spine specialist, Dr. Charles Carnel. When I was seen by Daryl and later by Dr. Carnel at my second appointment, I was treated with the utmost compassion, kindness and level of care. They ordered some initial diagnostic tests and diagnosed me with herniated discs at C5-6 vertebrae.
Dr. Carnel suggested a surgical consult with orthopaedic spine surgeon, Dr. Andrews Cordover; however, I told Dr. Carnel there was no way I was going to even consider spine surgery. At that point, Dr. Carnel recommended we go down a conservative route to see if I get any relief. We moved forward with an steroid injection. Fortunately, I had no pain or tingling for one week; however, my debilitating pain soon returned with a vengeance. At this point, I became convinced that I needed to move forward with a surgical consult.
My initial office visit with Dr. Cordover was in mid-August. We discussed my painful journey and reviewed my diagnostics. Dr. Cordover confirmed Dr. Carnel's diagnosis of herniated discs in my C5-6 vertebrae. He recommended anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), a surgery to remove a herniated or degenerative disc in my neck.
At first, I was very apprehensive to agree to the surgery; however, the combination of my prayers and Dr. Cordover’s confidence that he could alleviate my pain, I decided to move forward with the surgery.
One week later, I showed up for my surgery at Ascension St. Vincent’s Birmingham. I had severe pain in my neck and left arm, and I was terrified about going into surgery. I was a nervous wreck, but the pre-op nurses, anesthesiologists and Dr. Cordover helped ease my anxiety. Finally, I was wheeled back to surgery.
When I woke up in post-op following my surgery I was blown away. I had zero pain, tingling or numbness whatsoever. I had my life back. In the weeks following my surgery, I had to take it easy with moderate activities and some painting, but over time I made a full recovery.
I am eternally grateful to Daryl Flanagan, PA-C, Dr. Carnel and Dr. Cordover for their expertise, skill and knowledge. They changed my life and I am grateful that I now enjoy playing with my grandchildren, painting and living a pain-free life.