Many patients enrolled in The Better Way Back® are familiar with the story of Bill Walton, Basketball Hall-of-Famer, eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF®) patient, and spokesman for The Better Way Back. Here are excerpts from “Back in the Game: The Pain that Floored Me and the Surgery that Saved Me,” where Bill describes his journey from pain through recovery in his own words:

I knew back surgery was an option but I fought that decision for as long as I could. I certainly wasn’t a stranger to the operating room – I had already had 35 orthopaedic surgeries. Most of those operations had been on my feet, ankles, knees, and hands. But I did not want anybody cutting on my spine. That’s the core, the center. The spinal column is what holds everything together.

Plus, I had heard endless horror stories about patients whose back surgeries didn’t work and they were in as much pain, if not worse, after the surgery, as they were before. But in the end, I had no choice. There was no other option.

I just wanted the pain to stop. I just wanted my life back.

On February 8, 2009, I had spine surgery.

Today, I have a great life. Every morning, I work out in a warm-water pool at the YMCA. (I can’t emphasize enough how great warm water can be during your recovery. If you can, get into that warm water and out in the sun as early and as much as possible.)

I lift weights daily to maintain strength in my arms, legs, and core. I listen constantly to the music I’ve collected over a lifetime. And I enjoy playing piano and drums, although I’m not sure Lori (my wife) enjoys that as much as I do.

Lori and I have fun again with friends and family.

And as often as I can, I head out on my beloved bicycle, a custom road-machine that is my gym, my church, and my wheelchair all in one magnificent package of technology, engineering, and fun.

Bill’s story is unique to his experience with the XLIF procedure. As you consider your treatment options, be sure to discuss the potential risks, benefits, and complications with your healthcare provider, prior to receiving treatment. Ask lots of questions and rely on your surgeon’s judgment to choose a treatment option that works best for you.

If you’re living with chronic back or leg pain and want to learn more about Bill’s story, you can request information online and a patient coordinator will contact you to provide more information about The Better Way Back.