Skip to Main Content

Building Vitality Together - Kathy’s Story

Building Vitality Together Building together

“Recovery was easy. I was out of pain.”

~Kathy Cleary

Back Surgery Leads to Vitality in Retirement

Kathy Cleary has led a full and active life, working as a dental assistant, a receptionist and a housekeeper for the musician John Denver before opening Toujours Boutique in Newport, a store she ran for 21 years. 

She also keeps and rides horses. That’s how she first injured her back when she was thrown off a horse. 

“I hit a fence,” Cleary recalled. “I think that started the process.”

Arthritis and aging did the rest.

But thanks to successful surgery to repair spinal stenosis, a painful condition caused by wear and tear, Cleary is now enjoying retirement and back to riding. 

Cleary first had spinal fusion, a type of back surgery to fix problems with the bones in her spine, in 2012. But after several years of relief, her lower back pain returned in 2018. 

Two factors complicated matters. 

First, Cleary’s previous surgeon had retired. Second, she wanted to avoid an adverse reaction to anesthesia following her first surgery.

Background image: Kathy smiling before taking her horse out for a ride.
So Cleary did what a lot of people do. She went online and read patient reviews. 

She liked what she saw about J. Noonan, MD, of Samaritan Neurosurgery in Corvallis. 

“You know, I’ll give him a try,” she said. 

At her first appointment, Dr. Noonan listened attentively. 

“When you go in, it’s very scary,” Cleary recalled. “He was very reassuring.”

Cleary talked about her post-operative cognitive dysfunction symptoms and her problems with balance and speech after the last surgery.
 
“We’ll figure this out,” Dr. Noonan assured Cleary. 

He reviewed her medical records and referred her for neuropsychology testing. He also arranged for Cleary to meet with an anesthesiologist.

Background image: Kathy enjoying one of her favorite past times.

“Life is good.”

~Kathy Cleary

“He was very proactive in figuring this out,” Cleary said. “I was over-the-top impressed.”

The surgery was a success. 

“Everything went swimmingly,” Cleary said. 

She was prepared to take up to two weeks off work. But she was back in just six days. 

At age 72, Cleary was looking to slow down. And with her recovery complete, the timing for retirement felt right. 

“It really was time to retire,” she said.

So she recently closed shop and moved to Phoenix. 

“Life is good,” Cleary reports from her new home in the desert sunshine.

While she hopes she never has to have back surgery again, without hesitation she recommends Dr. Noonan and Samaritan Neurosurgery. 

“Besides his extreme talent as a surgeon, he listens to you,” Cleary said. “I really appreciate that.”

Background image: Kathy getting a "hug" from her horse.

Kathy relaxing a t horse barn.

Kathy enjoys snuggle time with one of her horses.

Kathy and her horse looking outside.

Kathy laughing.

Spinal Stenosis Most Often From Degenerative Aging Process

The spine is the main support of our upper bodies and protects the spinal cord. The nerves branch out from our spine to the rest of our bodies. With spinal stenosis, the spinal cord passageway narrows. If you are having problems with movement, numbness or pain in your back, talk with your doctor.

Spine Surgery Can Help Certain Conditions

J. Christopher Noonan, MD, discusses the types of spine issues that can lead to spine surgery.

Watch Video

Get Your Free Magnet


*
indicator means Required
Mailing Address
Birthday

Move Words into Action

How can you participate in making our community healthier? Whether it is teaming up for a cause, eating vibrantly, laughing often or being adventurous in your exercise, use this magnet to help you find the words and take action. Your healthy phrases can be an inspiration for us all.

Poetry magnet with positive words to compose works of art.

See More Stories About People in Our Community

Find Samaritan Health Services on Facebook 

Learn about upcoming seminars, meet our new clinicians and find out the latest in health news.