This journey began on February 9th, 2002, with marginally bearable aching pain that radiated in my left shoulder and arm. All normal activities and interests were overshadowed by this discomfort. I sought chiropractic care over the next 5 of 7 days that included electro-stimulus and ultrasound therapies with some minor relief. A little over a week after the pain started a family practice doctor prescribed prescription pain meds. One chiropractic visit and two days later with little relief, the same doctor prescribed Vicodin and methylprednisolone in an attempt to manage the pain. An x-ray taken on the same day looked normal.
Two weeks from the start of this journey a rheumatologist gave me a cortisone injection in my left shoulder. There was instant relief while she was administering the injection. She also prescribed two new meds that included Vioxx (that was taken off the market in September 2004 for risk of cardio vascular deaths). I only took it for a day or so since the cortisone had greatly diminished the pain.
Just shy of a month (March 2nd) into this journey an MRI of my cervical spine was taken that revealed disc protrusions at C5-6 and C6-7. This provided a new road map and change in direction of my journey. Three weeks later (03/20/02) I had a very uncomfortable nerve conductance test preformed that indicated normal nerve function. This may have provided some psychological relief but no physical relief. Twelve physical therapy sessions over the next three months happened after that. I refused to do some of the exercises because my pain increased when I tried to do them. It just didn't make sense to me that some of the exercises were causing more pain when the reason for pursuing the therapy was to mitigate the pain.
The next stop on this journey (06/24/02) was with Dr. Lawner, a neurosurgeon. His recommendation was epidural injections but ultimately there would be a need for a two-level disc fusion. Epidural injections were given to me on July 25th, August 9th, and 26th. This course of treatment yielded about 6 months of pain relief.
Dr. Jeffrey Wang, Chief of Spine Surgery at UCLA Medical Center, was my next stop on August 5, 2002. He recommended no immediate action at that time other than conservative therapies. I had already checked off physical therapy so that only left the epidurals and chiropractic adjustments and therapies. He agreed that a double-disk fusion was probably in my future.
My request for a second opinion through my HMO insurance was approved to see another neurosurgeon, Dr. Quinonez, on August 30, 2002. His findings were almost word-per-word exactly as Dr. Lawner's findings. No surprise here since they were from the same practice.
A new "revolutionary" treatment for bulging discs, DiskCure, was being heavily advertised during this time. So, I spent a half-week's salary to have this injection on September 10, 2002. It took a few days to kick in and this gave me 8 months of relief. I discovered that this treatment was the use of Embrel off label. I was able to find a rheumatologist in Beverly Hills that would give me these injections for a flat fee shortly after the first fairly expensive treatment. These injections provided 8 months of relief for several years that gradually went down to 6 months. Nonetheless, months of relief for a single doctor's visit was well worth it as I look back compared to the epidurals.
Dr. Stanton Schiffer, spine surgeon in San Francisco, in October of 2002 was the next stop on this journey. His recommendation was a cervical endoscopic discectomy (CED). His expertise made him my top choice for any surgical solution that I would consider up to that point.
Dr, Kenneth Burres, in January, 2003, was the next stop. He touted micro laser discectomy for the removal of the bulging discs with no fusion. His pitch was compelling but no one else in the US was doing this type of procedure without some form of spine stabilization. I truly liked what he had to say but there was a strong voice in my head screaming that there were more risks after the surgery than possible benefits. His recommendation that I stop playing softball after recovering from this procedure convinced me not to pursue this option further.
My relentless pursuit of the best medical options for my condition led me to cervical disc replacement trials. I was fortunate enough to get on the mailing list of updates for the clinical trial of the Bryan Artificial Disk being conducted at Cedars-Sinai by Dr. J. Patrick Johnson. His clinical manager and I became constant pen pals for a couple of years, 2004 - 2005, as the clinical trial progressed.
Many years had passed, and I was able to manage my varying degrees of discomfort and symptoms with the Embrel injections and chiropractic care. I used a home cervical traction device off and on during this time too.
Dr. Khawar Siddique, April 2014, was the next major stop. He was affiliated with Dr. Johnson's replacement cervical disc clinical trials. He concurred with previous diagnoses of my neck and offered disc replacement as an option but only at one level. He told me that insurance companies were not covering two-level disc replacements at that time.
This journey was now in its 20th year when I took a magazine article clipping given to me by my secretary at work more than 10 years earlier and made a call to the doctor from the article. That clipping rested on my magnetic bulletin board in my bedroom for more than a decade. It was there because the article was about a doctor with an office in Santa Clarita that was considered a "super doctor" by his peers for spinal surgical procedures. This article about Dr. Kapil Moza described his expertise going back to 2007!
I was now experiencing some loss in motor functions in my right arm. The time had come for the next and most life-changing stop on this journey. My first appointment with Dr. Moza on September 29th , 2022 was life altering from the sense that everything he said and how he spoke to me left me convinced to do whatever he recommended. From the first moment he entered the room, his presence, body language, and voice placed me at ease. His physical examination of me confirmed what I had known for the last 20 years that the time would come for a surgical solution for my neck.
I had wished, and planned to buy myself time for a solution that wasn't available to me when this journey started. Not even eight years earlier was a double disc replacement an option. This assumed that I would be a candidate for that option with no guarantee that I would be if and when that option existed.
Dr. Moza requested a current cervical MRI. A month later (October 20, 2022) I returned with images from my MRI for his review. He took the time to show me what he was seeing and explained that a double discectomy was indicated and that he believed I was a candidate for disc replacements. Dreams do come true. I held back the tears of relieve and joy mixed together and told him that I would like to schedule that surgery.
The surgery was scheduled a week later on October 28th.
Everything about Friday, October 28th, is an example of what can happen if you persevere, be proactive, and more importantly find that angel-on-earth to take care of you. You see, Dr. Moza is an angel-on-earth. He has surrounded himself with other "angels." The preparation nurse at the surgical center, Lynne, the OR nurse, Eunice, the anesthesiologist, Dr. Lloyd, the nerve doctor, and the nurse at the recovery center, Roxy, are ALL angels-on-earth.
I knew when I first met Dr. Moza that everything that would happen next was meant to happen and that I could not have been in better hands.
Two discs replaced with no cervical collar afterwards, arm weakness eliminated, and the most wonderful life-changing experience with Dr. Moza and his staff happened because Dr. Moza made it happen for me.
Now consider that Dr. Moza is a modern-day miracle worker. The outcome of my surgery is nothing short of a medical miracle. It took me 20 years for this miracle to happen at his hands. My journey led me to this. Yours can happen too without taking 20 years.
My journey take-ways: anything worth having is worth waiting for, be the master of your destiny, find your angel-on-earth and trust in their care.
With much gratitude and appreciation,
Contact Dr. Moza - Call 805-497-3622
Dr. Moza can help you live pain free too. Dr. Moza is an experienced California spine surgeon who has received several customer care awards and numerous other accolades.
Located in Agoura Hills, California, Dr. Moza serves all of southern California, including: Los Angeles, Westlake Village, Santa Barbara, Santa Clarita, Camarillo, Calabasas, Hollywood, Ventura and San Diego.