I'm Belly Dancing After Fixing Four Failed Back Surgeries

Mary Daffron tried four failed back surgeries, pain management, and endless second opinions for her paralyzing back pain. But after the Upright MRI revealed the pain points to fix, she now is learning how to belly dance.

I’ve had four lower back surgeries, my last was in 2006. It worked for a little while, probably after a year I was right back in the same boat I was in before, weakness in legs, lots of pain, back in the same gamut. I’ve had doctors stick me in pain management, I had a horrible experience there. From the git go I wasn’t comfortable with that setting, even the experiences I had sitting in the waiting room. Then questioning doctors, asking them about different procedures I had researched, things that had come out, an institute, just anything. I had some physicians that wanted to put in morphine pumps, nerve stimulators, every time it seemed I would ask them about something else I’d get shoved to the side, or basically told to sit down, take this, take that. That’s as good as it’s going to get.

I just never stopped searching, I like to research and find answers to things because I felt a lot of that was just unacceptable. Because I had always enjoyed being very active. I love softball, dance, I used to ride a motorcycle, ride horses, all those types of things. I have not been able to do any of these activities since my back pain robs me. Sometimes you get kicked in the system, different places you go want you to see a psychiatrist, they make you start to doubt yourself, the pain is in your head. That can be a real struggle (choking up). I had spent the past year visiting different physicians, trying to get different opinions. My neck and lower back started giving me problems again, my last neck surgery was in 2011. I had one in 09, one in Dec 2010, and one in Jan 2011.


Different places you go want you to see a psychiatrist, they make you start to doubt yourself, the pain is in your head.

The one in December failed so they went right back in to fix something else. The symptoms never cleared up. I went for a second opinion, one of my experiences that left me so cynical, was I went for a second opinion before I went for my final opinion with my neurosurgeon. They told me one thing, but when I went back for a visit with then neurosurgeon, the neurosurgeon that had done a lot of surgeries on me, he told me everything was fine, everything was healed. He didn’t see a reason why I felt the way that I did. It took all I had to keep everything together, just to make it to the car. That’s where I’d have my cry. Called my friends, ya know, I can’t believe this is happening. Then I spent the next year second opinions, third opinions, fourth opinions, trying to seek help. A friend of mine from my hometown, which is about four hours from here (Nashville), is coming here to see Dr. McCord. And they have a completely different MRI, they have some different procedures, and I think you need to call them, and so I did.


That’s when I met with Dr. McCord, went through the oddest MRI I’d ever seen but it turned out to be very well worth it. I met with him, he looked everything over, and said “Yes, we can fix this. No wonder you feel like you do, here’s why.” He showed me here exactly what was wrong and so we fixed it. Right now I’m six weeks after surgery, I walked up stairs to get to the office. Before the surgery if I squatted down at all, I could not get back up. Like if I bent something down to get something at Walmart I’d have to watch that somebody would be with me to help me back up or it’s going to be a bad situation that day. So I went upstairs today, bent over to get something in my kitchen last night, came back up, I’m doing really well so far, I’m very pleased. In a few weeks he’s going to go back in and straighten my neck out as well. So I’ve just had a wonderful positive experience here, I have to thank you for respect (choking up). Not blaming the patient for being sick, so many times I think I’ve run up against before is that a physician might have been unsure how to approach it, how to help you. Then, instead of saying they just can’t help you, they blame you. I never experienced that here, it was just a whole different atmosphere. He was very upfront about what he could do, what he couldn't do. I’ve so appreciated that. What expectations to have, and I’ve appreciated that. I guess I just nice to have someone that listens. Even if there wasn’t something they could do they could at least point blank say to you “I can’t.”


...physicians might have been unsure how to approach it, how to help you. Then, instead of saying they just can’t help you, they blame you.

One activity I really enjoyed I tried to take up this past couple of years was belly dance. I’m six weeks out right now and I saw Dr. McCord this Monday, on Tuesday I attempted a drill for belly dancing, it was a sad little attempt, but at least it was an attempt, a start. It was really great. I remember just a few months ago the sadness I felt when I left class one night and I left early. We were doing a dance where you’d balance on one leg and the other, my leg wouldn’t support me and I just left. I got my stuff and left and came home and was very sad. So I looked forward to picking that back up.


Even with the surgery he went in through the front, a couple days later he went in through the back, and I have bone grafts from both side. Which I was very fortunate in that he didn’t need to chip or break bone, he could take the bone marrow which wasn’t anything like I thought it was going to be. I expected it to be far more painful that it was. Not that it wasn’t painful, but it was manageable. I never thought twice about scars, belly dance class moves, swimsuits, anything like that. Dr. McCord has given my life back, he’s got to hear that a lot (laughs)! I’m sure he does. I’m glad he’s different, I’m glad there’s people out there that aren’t afraid to take a different approach to things. Different isn’t a negative thing, different is very, very good sometimes. Because without innovative people, we wouldn’t have the ability to move forward. I think Dr. McCord’s got to have one of the greatest jobs because how much he hears thank you. That’d be a really cool feeling to know you’re making such a difference in people’s lives everyday.