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Published on May 02, 2016

When a medic becomes the patientWhen a medic becomes the patient

When Dennis paramedic and firefighter Ben Anderson answered a routine call recently, he never imagined he would end up needing help, himself. While lifting a patient onto a stretcher to be transported to Cape Cod Hospital, his body twisted in an unusual way.

He immediately sensed something was wrong, but, being a patient wasn’t something he was used to. He initially tried to ignore the increasing pain and weakness in his right arm. But, when he was unable to guide his hand to a computer, he knew something was terribly wrong.

Hyannis Neurosurgeon Gordon Nakata, MD, FAANS diagnosed Anderson with a herniated disc, a common condition that results from age-related degeneration or traumatic injury. A bulge in the disc compressed the nerves in Anderson’s spine, causing his symptoms.

Dr. Nakata understood that maintaining strength and agility was essential to Anderson’s occupation. Shortly after they first met, Dr. Nakata performed an anterior cervical discectomy with fusion – a surgical procedure where the bulging disc is removed and a bone graft is inserted for stability.

“I remember waking up post-surgery and the first thing I did was move my right arm,” said Anderson. “There was no pain, and that was amazing. It felt wonderful.”