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Patient Stories

After spine surgery, Mark came back faster

mark simmons

Mark, who runs an aviation advertising business, was flying a small plane toward Block Island when the cockpit shuddered, the engine failed and his plane plummeted toward Long Island Sound. 




 Mark’s skillful piloting averted disaster and his “safe” crash landing on the water amazingly saved his life, but the accident left him with several collapsed vertebrae and slipped disks in his lower back. After a water rescue some 90 minutes later, Mark faced a different challenge – a new life with chronic pain.

Lawrence + Memorial Hospital:
Come Back Healthier

Year after year, he suffered near debilitation from the pain. Injections and other treatments provided little relief. It wasn’t until he underwent an intensive eight-hour surgery led by Juan Bartolomei, MD, a member of the neurosurgery team at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital, that Mark found relief.

“I had the surgery on a Wednesday,” he said. “I was home on Friday and by Sunday I was off the pain medication. Within a week, I was doing all kinds of stuff. I mean, Dr. Bartolomei just did a phenomenal job.”

Dr. Bartolomei acknowledged that Mark’s case was complex. “We look carefully at what type of care will best suit each individual patient,” he said. “Whenever possible, we incorporate minimally invasive techniques to spare trauma to the muscles and to expedite quicker recovery.”

And yes, he’s back flying airplanes. “I can’t think of anything I can’t do,” Mark said. “Dr. Bartolomei relieved my pain and he gave me the chance to keep my livelihood, too. I’m flying, I’m pain-free and life is good!”