Thrive by IU Health

December 12, 2023

Soulmates reunite again after successful spine surgery

IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital

Soulmates reunite again after successful spine surgery

In third grade, Joetta McKissack met James McKissack, and she knew then he was her soulmate. Years later, the pair was in high school James asked her on a date. Now, over half a century later, the couple is still together with kids and grandkids all around the state.

McKissack 1972

When James was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in, he needed more assistance than McKissack was able to provide. The couple made the difficult decision to move him into a care facility in 2022, but McKissack continued to visit him daily.

In the spring of 2023, she started having pain in her back that went down her leg which made it challenging to stand and move.

McKissack knew she couldn’t keep living with the pain, so she reached out to Scott Taylor, MD, pain medicine. With his help, she received a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and X-rays. He found a cyst behind the vertebrae.

Dr. Taylor referred her to her next surgeon for a spinal fusion. “I asked Dr. Taylor if there were any other solutions,” she says, “I didn’t want a serious spinal fusion.” At her request, Dr. Taylor then recommended David J. Hart, MD, neurosurgeon, IU Health Ball.

Upon reviewing her imaging, Dr. Hart determined the cyst put pressure on the nerves and a laminectomy to remove part of the vertebra and the cyst would fix her pain.

“He was so kind, and everyone there was thoughtful and caring," she says. "Dr. Hart never made me feel rushed. He made sure I understood everything and would go into detail when necessary. I wasn’t even nervous going in the day of surgery.”

On the morning of the operation, McKissack’s son drove her to the hospital. By the afternoon, McKissack had recovered from the anesthesia and was released. She was shocked by how successful the surgery was and how painless it was to walk again.

“I had no pain at all during recovery,” says McKissack, “It was beyond my expectations, way beyond my expectations.”

Within a few days McKissack returned to her daily visits with her husband at the care facility. She had missed him and was happy to be reunited. Finally pain-free, McKissack now looks forward to spending time with her soulmate and reminiscing on their 61 years of marriage.

McKissack 2003

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