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Old 03-14-2009, 11:43 PM
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mmglobal mmglobal is offline
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 2,511

It’s just a little more than a month after I made my initial post about Dr. Stark. I’m so happy to be posting this update.

Over the last weeks, I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of days with Dr. Stark and his staff. There is so much about his approach to spine and they way his office runs that I really like. Remember that in my days before being a patient advocate, I was a spine patient and chronic pain patient for years. We've all spent too much time in offices staffed by people who might say something like, “My job is OK, if it just wasn’t for those spine patients!” Dr. Stark and his staff are the opposite of that and are like a breath of fresh air.

His office is in the Medical Arts Building in old Downtown Minneapolis. The building is very cool. The first think you might notice when you enter his office is the doctor’s great golden retriever, Jake! Dr. Stark is very down to earth and easy to talk to and really cares about his patients. Here is Dr. Stark with Jake and his wonderful office manager, Betty:

Betty keeps the office running smoothly and really seems to take an extraordinary interest in the patients’ lives. “Many of them just need a little extra hand holding,” she says, and she’s happy to do it.

Dr. Stark’s interest in SI joint dysfunction come from his willingness to keep searching for answers. Too many spine patients have continuing pain after seemingly successful surgeries. He is not apt to dismiss a patient with the “scar tissue” diagnosis, or write them off as drug seekers, malingerers or psych problems. He believes that in most cases, you can find and solve the problem.

Most of the people who work with me have heard me say, “the surgeon does not want to be your doctor, he wants to be your surgeon.” Dr. Stark wants you to be an ex-patient after your problems are solved. But, if your problem is not solved, he wants to be your doctor and will continue to care for you and search for a solution, rather than turf you to pain management.

I was not quite convinced about SI joint dysfunction until I had the opportunity to speak to so many of his patients, including many recent and not-so-recent post-op patients. I was amazed to hear about people with classic sciatic symptoms, some after failed spine surgeries, who reported waking from the SI joint fusion to discover that their leg pain, weakness and numbness were all gone!

In my travels, I’ve been lucky to be able to spend time with many surgeons who truly pioneered new technologies. One said to me, “First I was a heretic, then I was a pioneer, then many said that they invented it!” I think that Dr. Stark is making the transition from heretic to pioneer. I’m shocked to discover that 6 years into my GPN experience, I’m finding something that I truly expect to represent hope for a significant percentage of failed spine patients. This ‘outside the box’ diagnosis may be something that is frequently overlooked by a surgeon community that does not embrace the diagnosis and does not understand the new type of repair that Dr. Stark and his colleagues have developed. His style of SI joint fusion is NOTHING like the old techniques that were not very effective. It’s a pleasure to talk to him as he has such a passion for what he does and is clearly on a mission. He has refined and improved the procedure through the years and continues to do so.

I spoke to Cindy today. She’s 4 days post-op and has already been home for a day. It’s very early to tell because she still has substantial surgical pain but she’s reporting that her pre-op pain does not seem to be present. We don’t know how good she’ll get or what the future holds, but I look forward to watching her recovery. I truly believe that she stands a better chance for success because of Dr. Stark’s ability to take a step back and get the big picture instead of having a narrow focus.

He’s very interested in learning about other technologies and I was surprised that he wanted to come to dinner and meet my Minneapolis client’s. With just a few days notice, everyone came out. This photo appeared in another thread, but it belongs here too:

Front row, left to right, Tim - husband to Sandra (2 ProDisc L 4.5 years) mmglobal (2 Charite's 6.5 years), Michele (3 ProDisc-L w/vertebroplasty 3.5 years), Michele's husband Clinton,

Back row, left to right, Rick - husband to Cindylou (3-level ProDisc, 2 years), Betty (Dr. Stark's office manager), Dr. John Stark

I think we really opened his eyes to the potential success for multi-level ADR surgery as Michele, Sandra and I all had such excellent results. Cindy’s 3-level ADR is very well done and apparently successful, but her ongoing SI pain (hopefully) has left her still seriously impaired. Hopefully, the SI fusion surgery done 2 days after this picture was taken will give her another chance for a more normal life.

I can’t thank Dr. Stark enough for his warm hospitality and the amount of time and care he took to educate me about his work. I truly believe that he’ll be helping many GPN clients in the future!

All the best,

1997 MVA
2000 L4-5 Microdiscectomy/laminotomy
2001 L5-S1 Micro-d/lami
2002 L4-S1 Charite' ADR - SUCCESS!
2009 C3-C4, C5-C6-C7, T1-T2 ProDisc-C Nova
Summer 2009, more bad thoracic discs!
Life After Surgery Website
President: Global Patient Network, Inc.
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