Gillian Davidson, a retired nurse, is a master gardener in the Marysville area. As a trained master gardener she advises and educates the public on ornamental and vegetable gardening. Her own garden, with its multitude of flower and vegetable beds, is one of her great joys in life.
But the constant kneeling and bending over the flower beds began to take its toll. Three of the lumbar discs in her spine had disintegrated, causing severe back pain. Suffering from the sensation of bone-on-bone contact, Davidson turned to pain management specialist Peter Bravos, M.D. She found some relief, but the symptoms returned making it difficult to stand, sit or kneel.
In 2012, Davidson was referred to orthopedic spine surgeon Tyler Smith, M.D., who cares for patients at Sutter Surgical Hospital – North Valley. After thoughtfully reviewing her case, Dr. Smith recommended the eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF) procedure, a minimally disruptive surgical procedure performed through the side of the body. This procedure provides reduced operating time, less blood loss during surgery, a smaller incision, and a reduced hospital stay and postoperative recovery time.
Using the XLIF procedure, Dr. Smith removed Davidson's three degenerated discs and replaced them with implants. After the surgery, the hospital care team helped Davidson out of bed to walk a few steps. Each day she walked a little further. Davidson says the care team was very attentive during her three-day stay at Sutter Surgical Hospital. "I never had to ring the call button because the nurses checked on me so frequently."
After a few weeks, Davidson was working in her garden again. But soon her right knee became unbearably painful, keeping her from her botanical work once again. She was referred to orthopedic surgeon Amber Chatwin, M.D., also with Sutter Surgical Hospital – North Valley. Davidson tried hyaluronate injections, also called chicken comb injections, to calm down the knee pain, but it soon became evident that she needed a total knee replacement.
Dr. Chatwin performed the total knee replacement in 2013. Again, the care team at Sutter Surgical Hospital helped Davidson out of bed her first day and helped her walk a few steps. The next day Davidson walked more, and by the third day she could walk to the nurse's station and back.
Davidson says that all the staff at Sutter Hospital – North Valley were attentive and caring. "They made my whole experience at the hospital great." She was also impressed with the beautiful private rooms and gourmet meals.
Six months after the surgery Davidson could kneel down on something soft, and she returned to her garden full time. "The two surgeries have given me a new lease on life," she says. "I'm able to move again." She continues her work in the garden, horseback rides and hikes with her husband and five dogs, sings as a soprano in her Master Chorale group and is on the board of the Veridian Symphony Orchestra. "I'm having a wonderful time."