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Published on January 25, 2012

Ursula Sullivan - Emergency Surgery 

Ursula Sullivan

Ursula Sullivan

When Ursula Sullivan, 45, woke up on July 29 in severe pain with lost feeling in her left side, she knew what needed to happen and that it would have to happen fast.

Thankfully, her physician, Martin E. Gryfinski, MD, neurosurgeon on staff at Kishwaukee Community Hospital, was also aware of her condition and knew precisely what to do.

Ursula, a professor of marketing at Northern Illinois University, had been experiencing numbness in her hand when she was first diagnosed with a herniated disk in her neck by her neurologist.

She was referred to Dr. Gryfinski, who recommended surgery and encouraged her to seek a second opinion, which concurred with Dr. Gryfinski’s recommendation.

Now or Never

When Ursula woke up in extreme pain, she realized the situation was urgent and called Dr. Gryfinski right away. “I immediately knew the disk had ruptured, and surgery had to happen as soon as possible,” says Dr. Gryfinski. “I scheduled an MRI and the operating room.”

After a brief consult with Dr. Gryfinski in the Emergency Room at Kish Hospital, Ursula underwent surgery to have the disk replaced and pins placed to stabilize two other weak disks. “Dr. Gryfinski came in as soon as I was awake to check on my progress,” says Ursula. “His confirmation that I was showing positive signs was a huge relief to my husband and me. We have two young children, and the thought of me being permanently paralyzed was terrifying for both of us.”

Big Goals

Before leaving the hospital, Ursula informed Dr. Gryfinski of her goal to be back at work on the first day of classes, August 22, less than a month after surgery. To make this possible, Dr. Gryfinski and the staff at Kish Hospital coordinated her aggressive inpatient rehabilitation with Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital. After a week there, Ursula was able to return home and immediately begin outpatient rehabilitation at Unlimited Performance Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine, a department of Kish Hospital. “The quickness and intensity of my rehabilitation has really made the difference in my recovery,” says Ursula. “I was able to start teaching on time. My next goal is to be able to walk the two blocks from my home to school without aid. I know that with my team, I can accomplish that.”

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