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Patient's spine surgery journey includes house call via plane
Posted on: August/08/2019


Beth Goetsch thought of Dr. Fred Sweet immediately when her lower back issues and nerve pain returned nearly 20 years after they’d first met.

Back in April 2002, Dr. Sweet performed a discectomy on Beth. As the years progressed, everyday life and work as a nurse started taking a toll on her body – she’s also had both hips replaced since then.

When her back pain intensified again in recent years, she started getting epidural injections to help. About two years ago, she traveled to Disneyworld and walked more than 50 miles during the trip.

“I overdid it,” she said. “It came to the point where an MRI showed I had some significant damage in my lower vertebrae, and the doctor I work for told me it was time to see a spine surgeon.”

She took to the internet and started researching Dr. Sweet to see if he was still in Rockford. After fulfilling insurance requirements to finish physical therapy first, Beth underwent a three-level spine fusion surgery in May 2018 performed by Dr. Sweet.

Another setback

Between the back and hip surgeries, Beth’s body had adapted and adjusted, so the symptoms of arthritis started causing issues after the 2018 surgery. She tried pain injections again but ended up going back to see Dr. Sweet. He recommended a laminectomy, a surgery that removes bone growths on the spine to relieve pressure on the nerves.

Beth had a lumbar laminectomy in July 2019 and the surgery was a success. But a few days after surgery, she developed severe headaches and could not get up out of bed. Sitting up would cause severe pain that was intolerable, so she was unable to make the hour drive up to Rockford to be evaluated.

Dr. Sweet, who is a pilot, flew down to Beth’s home in rural Walnut so she would not have to make the trip to Rockford.

“My husband and I were just blown away,” she recalled. “We kept thinking, ‘How did this happen? Here he is!’”

Dr. Sweet determined that she possibly developed a spinal fluid leak, and he decided she would need another surgery, which was scheduled for the next day. She has been doing great ever since.

‘I feel like a VIP’

“I’m so happy with the progress,” she said. “The pain I was having in my hips and legs is gone. I know it was successful.”

Beth, now 57, said she was overwhelmed by Dr. Sweet’s compassion, which she took note of after her first surgery in 2002. He and his team helped her navigate insurance coverage for the procedure.

Still working in nursing for more than 20 years, Beth is doing less direct in-person patient work to help keep her back and hips safe. She still loves what she does and is grateful to Dr. Sweet for helping her get back to life.

“I feel like a VIP patient, that’s for sure. To see a doctor who is this caring for his patient is just unbelievable,” Beth said.

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