Hope Returns After a Traumatic Spine Injury
While repairing a power line from a bucket truck, Rayne Andersen, a lineman, fell 80 feet to the ground. “I hit the ground pretty hard,” says Andersen. “But I caught my breath and felt okay.” That evening, Andersen road his motorcycle home, ate and went to bed. The next morning, he could not walk. “It was very scary. I knew I’d hurt my back, but I kept thinking that it would get better.”
It didn’t get better. Andersen could not walk for six months. His brother toted him around in Alabama, where he lived at the time. He was only 30 when he had the accident.
Andersen was not able to work and ran out of money. He saw a chiropractor and offered his motorcycle in return for his care. The chiropractor not only accepted his offer, but provided housing for Andersen until dying of a massive heart attack.
After that, Andersen saw six more chiropractors with no relief from his pain. He went to a vocational rehabilitation center, had an MRI and saw a surgeon, who performed a spine procedure. Two days later, Andersen felt a pop in his back and experienced excruciating pain. He underwent a second surgery. Five days later, he felt another pop in his back and then had a spinal fusion operation. He had no improvement following the procedure, and two years later, he still could not work. “It was the worst thing in the world not to work,” explains Andersen. “I had to sell all my belongings.”
“It was the worst thing in the world not to work,” explains Andersen. “I had to sell all my belongings.”
10 Years of Pain
Andersen applied for disability and social security. He received both, but continued to suffer debilitating pain for another 10 years. As a result, he became dependent on pain medication, muscle relaxers, nerve medicine and a prescription sleep aid. Andersen attempted to see several other spine surgeons, but no one would see him. “No one wanted to go behind another surgeon,” Andersen explains.
In June of 2015, the Alabama resident quit all his medications and moved to Colorado for access to medicinal marijuana. Upon arriving, he also sought spine expertise, and the first place he called was the Center for Spine and Orthopedics. Though he did not have a referral, Dr. Anton Zaryanov, a spine surgeon, agreed to see him. Dr. Zaryanov examined Andersen and scheduled him for surgery in October 2015. During the procedure, Dr. Zaryanov removed the plates from Andersen’s past spine procedures and replaced them with new technology. The surgery lasted seven hours. “My girlfriend, Kristin, said that Dr. Z had blood blisters all over his hands when he finished,” says Anderson. “When I woke up, I told her that I had the urge to get up and walk. She was amazed.”
“Mr. Andersen had many spine issues, and it took a significant amount of work to address them all,” says Dr. Zaryanov. Since surgery, he has lost a great deal of weight and is getting ready to pursue a new, physically demanding career. He looks like a different man, and I am very happy for him.”
Andersen was so impressed with his results that he wrote a letter to Ellen Degeneres, the talk show host, who mentioned during one of her shows that she had back pain. “He did such a good job that I tried to tell Ellen about him,” says Andersen.
“He did such a good job that I tried to tell Ellen about him,” says Andersen.
Hope for the Future
Today, Andersen is glad that he no longer has to depend on pain medications. “When you take pain medication, your brain stops making dopamine,” explains Anderson. “Addicts say that their brains won’t work anymore, but mine is just fine.” Now that Andersen is pain-free, he is back to work, having recently started a new job at Home Depot. This summer, he plans to attend EMT training at Front Range Community College. He also plans to marry girlfriend Kristin. “I am just so happy! I hug Dr. Z every time I see him,” says Andersen. “He changed my whole life. Before I didn’t have a future, and now I do.”