The Social Media Diva to Have an Anterior Cervical Discectomy

You can see my herniation right in the middle of this image of my MRI.

Last week I learned that, after unsuccessful treatments of physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy and steroids, I am going to need to have neck surgery, which is scheduled for Thursday, December 15. The surgery, called Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Arthrodesis, is necessary to correct advanced Cervical Spondylosis, severe disc herniation, significant spinal compression, moderate bilateral C6 Foraminal Stenosis and severe Osteoarthritis. So for us non spinal surgeons and doctors what that means is I have advanced herniation of my disc at the C6 level which has caused significant compression of my spine and a moderate pinching of my nerve. So why am I sharing this personal challenge with the readers of IPWatchdog?

After meeting with my doctor, discussing the results of my tests, reading through all of the documentation and talking to my mother who had a similar surgery in 2000, I realized that there have been so many medical breakthroughs over the years.  These medical breakthroughs make surgeries like this possible and in many cases with far better outcomes than in years passed.  So I thought I would write about some of those revolutionary technologies and the Hall of Fame inventors who were responsible for them.

Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts had the exact same surgery that I am going to have next week and is expected to eventually return to football. For him, they removed the entire disc, replaced the disc with some substance and used a titanium plate to form a spinal fusion. Although Manning’s NFL career is not over, my NFL prospects are not quite as good. My prognosis, however, is for a complete recovery.

In my case, my surgeon, Dr. Ian Wattenmaker of the Center of Spinal Surgery & Spinal Disorders in Leesburg, VA, will need to remove the entire disc at level C6 along with any surrounding bone that is contributing to the compression. The disc will then be replaced with a piece of my own bone or bone fragments placed in what he called a “cage.” He will then use a plate and screws to form the fusion of my spine between the C5 and C6 vertebrae.

These issues typically occur in patients 55 and older yet I am only turning 40 in February. My four fingers and the palm of my right hand have been numb non-stop since exercising with a personal trainer about 2 months ago and the pinky and ring finger on my left hand go numb from time to time. I also have neck and shoulder pain (which I thought was the result of sitting here at my computer for so long), difficulty sleeping, poor balance and electrical type “shocks” that run from elbow to elbow, across my shoulders and into my arms every time I change sitting or lying positions or move my head to fast.

I met with my surgeon for the first time 2 weeks ago in regard to this issue. He took x-rays of my neck in his office, and could see there was some herniation of the disc but needed further studies to determine the extent of the herniation.


Diagnostic medicine was revolutionized when, on November 8, 1895, German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen accidentally discovered the X-ray. While experimenting with electric current flow, Röntgen saw that a fluorescent image was cast from his cathode ray generator when it came in contact with a piece of barium (soft silvery metal) platinocyanide. The very first X-ray picture was taken and printed on December 22 of that same year. The subject of this first X-ray was the hand of his wife, Anna Bertha, which showed all of the bones of her hand as well as her wedding band. Röntgen refused to seek patent protection on his invention and insisted that the invention not be named after him. Röntgen was awarded the first Nobel Prize for physics in 1901 for his discovery of the X-ray and later died of intestinal carcinoma in 1923.

Next, my surgeon told me that I would need to have an MRI done in order to get a better look at what was causing my symptoms. Above is a photo I took of my actual MRIs. You can see the herniation and spinal compression plain as day in this photo. The MRI was not only instrumental in determining my diagnosis but in also establishing just how severe the herniation and spinal compression was.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scanner

Patent No. 3,789,832

Once again diagnostic medicine was revolutionized with the invention of the MRI. The inventor of the MRI, Dr. Raymond Damadianis also a Hall of Fame inventor, having been inducted in 1989.  Dr. Damadian filed for patent protection in November 20, 1978, and the patent issued on October 19, 1982.

Incidentally, we happen to be friends with the now retired primary patent examiner on this case, Kyle Howell. I spoke to Kyle to get his thoughts on the MRI patenting process. Kyle stated that

As a patent examiner, you rarely get the opportunity to see an invention that gives you that ‘Wow, this is really something special’ feeling. But I knew that I was working on something that was going to be a huge development in the medical field.

With the MRI patent application Kyle became a patent examining trailblazer.  Up until that point no one at the Patent Office had any experience with this type of technology because it was that revolutionary. At the start of the process Kyle did not understand all of the nuances of the invention, but he worked hard to understand the technology, fulfilling the vital role of a patent examiner.  Kyle stated that he knew that the MRI was going to make a real difference in the medical field, and he was right!  It certainly has.

Finally, in order to prepare for surgery I had to go to my Primary Care Physician as well as the hospital outpatient lab to complete all of my pre-surgical testing. I needed to have an EKG, blood work and a nasal swab completed before the procedure could take place.

EKG (Electrocardiogram or ECG) 

Patent No. 1,592,628

The EKG or electrocardiogram is an invention that evolved over a 25-year span. It started in 1878 when British physiologists John Burden Sanderson and Frederick Page used a capillary electrometer to record two different phases of electrical currents in the heart of a frog. Nine years later in 1887, British physiologist Augustus De’sire’ Waller, with the assistance of his lab technician Thomas Goswell, published the first recording of electrical currents of the human heart. Waller termed his discovery the “Electrocardiogram.” Two years later Dutch doctor Willem Einthoven attended the First International Congress of Physiologists in 1889. While there, he saw Waller demonstrate the recording of electrical activity of his pet bulldog’s heart. Einthoven, expanding on the ideas of Waller, began experimenting on the electrical currents a heart can produce. He perfected the EKG in 1903 when he designed a machine that could pick up the electrical impulses and record them in a wave. Although the machine weighed 600 pounds, was the size of a small room and took five technicians to operate, his machine was stable and extremely accurate.

Because his invention had such a vast and monumental impact on medicine, Einthoven was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1924. He received patent #1,592,628 on July 13, 1926 for his method of receiving the signal from the EKG machine.  He was inducted into the Inventor’s Hall of Fame in 2008.

Apparatus for Use in Inserting Spinal Implants Spinal Surgical Devices

Patent No. 6,770,074

Now as a non-techie, non-patent attorney and non-spinal surgeon, I cannot go into detail of the surgical equipment and procedures my surgeon will use during my surgery. I do know, however, that inventors like Dr. Gary Michelson, a 2011 inductee into the Inventor’s Hall of Fame, have revolutionized spinal surgeries, allowing for far better outcomes.  In fact, the innovation for which Michelson was inducted into the Inventor’s Hall of Fame relates to minimally invasive spinal surgery.  Previously, the surgery would require a lengthy 2-week hospital stay post surgery, but thanks to the Michelson innovation it is now often an outpatient procedure.

In the video montage created to celebrate Michelson when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame he explained that his grandmother suffered from a spinal ailment that caused her to lose feeling in her extremities.  He retold a story about a time his grandmother was talking to him while she was leaning on the stove.  Her hand caught fire and she didn’t realize at first because of the lack of sensation.  He knew then that he wanted to tackle the problem and ultimately went to medical school.  He was told not to pursue spinal surgery or back surgery because patients simply never got any better.  Michelson said: “I knew there had to be a better way.”  It is that spirit that drives innovators on every level.  We, the public, are the beneficiaries of their dedication.

Now for shameless promotion! (Hey, sympathy votes count right?)  I won’t be in the office between my surgery and the end of the year, so this is likely my one chance to help “get out the vote.”

If you have not already done so, please vote for IPWatchdog in the ABA Journal Blawg 100 contest. We are listed under the IP Law category.

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Join the Discussion

20 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Renee C. Quinn]
    Renee C. Quinn
    December 27, 2011 12:49 am


    Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my surgery and recovery. I am so sorry to hear of your brothers issues. I can tell you that because of so many surgical developments, the surgery has gotten so much better and with less risk. As you could see by my MRI, my spine was VERY clearly being compressed by the herniated disc. I am so thank for that my surgeon was able to perform the surgery, which in decades past would have been a very risky operation, without complications.

    I chose to share my situation with the readers of IPWatchdog for several reasons. First of all to let others who may be in a similar situation as me, but have too many fears, know that there are many beside myself who have very positive outcomes. Second, I am a very visible part of IPWatchdog now and my absence would not have gone unnoticed. And third, I wanted to show our readers that behind the IPWatchdog symbol, there are very real people faced with difficult situations. Not to mention I do not feel comfortable as the Social Media Diva promoting regular and consistant social interaction, engagement and sharing with your connections while inexplicably disappearing for a few weeks.

    I feel that if sharing what we are going through, especially at this time of year, will help our readers in any way, then it falls right in line with what we are trying to do here at IPWatchdog. I truly appreciate your taking the time to comment on this post. I must say that I have met SO many new people through IPWatchdog, Facebook and my Social Media Diva website from Australia in the last year. I just wish I could hear you all talk! = )

    Again, thank you so much for your kind words. And may you also have a very blessed and prosperous New Year. And may God be there for your brother as well!


  • [Avatar for Renee C. Quinn]
    Renee C. Quinn
    December 27, 2011 12:31 am


    Thank you so much for your wonderful note. Your well wishes and kind thoughts are much appreciated. I am starting to take on too much. I have to stop trying to be Super Mom and just allow myself to heal. It’s hard for me to just lie around, but I know it is necessary if I am to have a speedy recovery! We had a very nice Christmas and hope you did as well! Thank you again. Merry Christmas and have a very Happy and Prosperous New Year. (YOU TOO Steve!)


  • [Avatar for Renee C. Quinn]
    Renee C. Quinn
    December 27, 2011 12:27 am


    Thank you for the well wishes. I am healing very well. The sutures are out and the steri strips are off. The incision looks great. I still am very tired, have a lot of stiffness at the base of my neck, and cannot sleep in anything other than a recliner for more than 20-30 minutes at a time. But otherwise I am feeling great. We had a fantastic Christmas yesterday and a wonderful Christmas ham dinner today. But I am VERY tired after a few days of baking, cooking and helping Santa ; ), Thanks for your well wishes!


  • [Avatar for Greg Ferres]
    Greg Ferres
    December 25, 2011 05:19 pm

    Dear Renee.
    I just thought of an invention and was looking up costs on how much it will cost when I came across your web page. I was very interested in your medical problems and the way you have informed the outside world.
    I have a brother with a curved spine and has had a life time of pain. He did not opt for an operation as the chances of not been able to walk was a high possibility when the surgery was suggested a few decades ago.
    Now he is much older and living with his complaint he could not go through any major surgery.
    I am so happy to see your followers comments that you are doing well.
    May I add God speed to you recovery. Bless you.Thank you from down under, South Australia.
    Warmest regards

  • [Avatar for Paul Cole]
    Paul Cole
    December 19, 2011 04:12 pm

    Dear Renee

    I was sad to hear that you would be undergoing surgery but am now also delighted that it has gone well.

    Very best wishes for Christmas which you can now hopefully enjoy fully, and very best wishes for next year.

  • [Avatar for Steve M]
    Steve M
    December 18, 2011 09:11 pm

    Great news and a true blessing indeed to hear your operation went well Renee.

    Now here’s to a swift recovery.


  • [Avatar for Renee C Quinn]
    Renee C Quinn
    December 17, 2011 12:28 pm


    Thank you for taking the time to send me this note. I appreciate all of the support I have received from the readers of IPWatchdog. I feel pretty good, but am tired. It’s hard being a mom and just lying around, but I know it is necessary to insure my quick recovery. So I will be a good patient. Thanks again,


  • [Avatar for tifoso]
    December 16, 2011 04:01 pm

    Renee –

    So good to hear the surgery went well. Hope you have a speedy recovery with no problems.

    Uno Tifoso

  • [Avatar for Renée C Quinn]
    Renée C Quinn
    December 15, 2011 08:37 pm


    Thank you for your email and for your well wishes. Everything went well with my surgery.  He removed my entire disc and some of the bone around the disc.  He said i had significant arthritis around the disc and caught this in time before there was any irrepairable damage!He used my own bone in a plastic cage to replace the disc and used a plate to fuse my vertebra together.  I had the same surgery that Peyton Manning had.   

    I am at Inova Loudoun hospital in Lansdowne.  I will be home tomorrow probably in the morning..  If you are on Facebook, I am posting my progress on my facebook page so my friends, family and co-workers can keep up with me.  I would appreciate your “liking my page” and of course appreciate your taking the time to send me a note!


  • [Avatar for EG]
    December 15, 2011 10:57 am

    Dear Renee and Gene,

    I do pray all goes well today wiith Renee’s surgery. And that you will soon be pain free. God Bless.

    BTW, been enjoying the Bay area since Monday. Our plan is to visit Muir Woods today. Take care.

  • [Avatar for Renee C. Quinn]
    Renee C. Quinn
    December 14, 2011 01:23 pm


    Thank you for your support, both of me and IPWatchdog. I truly appreciate your taking the time to comment. As I’ve mentioned to others, we will be keeping everyone informed of my progress via our FB pages:

    And @

    Again thank you for your prayers!

    -Renée (The Social Media Diva)

  • [Avatar for Renee C. Quinn]
    Renee C. Quinn
    December 14, 2011 01:20 pm


    Thank you so much for reading IPWatchdog and for taking the time to send well wishes my way. We will keep everyone abreast of my condition as soon as we can via our FB pages.

    Find me as the Social Media Diva on FB @

    Gene is IPWatchdog @

    Your support of me and IPWatchdog is much appreciated!

    -Renée (The Social Media Diva)

  • [Avatar for Hank Nothhaft]
    Hank Nothhaft
    December 14, 2011 10:35 am

    Thank you for edifying comments regarding your surgery.
    Best of luck and wishing you a rapid and successful recovery.
    Our thoughts and prayers will be with you.

  • [Avatar for Deb Hess]
    Deb Hess
    December 14, 2011 09:50 am

    Prayers for the doctors to accomplish everything you are hoping for and a thorough and speedy recovery for you. Blessings to you!

  • [Avatar for Renee C. Quinn]
    Renee C. Quinn
    December 14, 2011 09:44 am


    Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I appreciate all of the support I am getting. My surgery is tomorrow morning and we will keep every posted on my progress via our FB pages. Please visit and like them so we can keep you posted.

    Find me as the Social Media Diva on FB @

    Gene is IPWatchdog @

    -Renée (The Social Media Diva)

  • [Avatar for Kalpesh]
    December 14, 2011 08:54 am

    Dear Renee,

    Best of luck with the surgery and here’s hoping you heal in time to enjoy a great Christmas dinner with your friends and family. We all look forward to your great posts on IPWatchdog.

    Take care and get well soon!


  • [Avatar for Renee C. Quinn]
    Renee C. Quinn
    December 14, 2011 01:48 am


    Thank you so very much for reading IPWatchdog and for sharing your words of experience, support and well wishes with me . I really truly love the family feeling of IPWatchdog that goes far beyond my husband and I. It’s refreshing and the reason I felt comfortable sharing such a big part of my life with our readers. We will keep you all informed of my progress on our Facebook pages. So be sure to Like us on both so you can stay informed. I hope my surgery, with 6 years of advancements goes as smoothly or more so than did yours!

    Renee is the Social Media Diva on FB @

    Gene is IPWatchdog @

    -Renée (The Social Media Diva)

  • [Avatar for Renee C. Quinn]
    Renee C. Quinn
    December 14, 2011 01:48 am


    Thank you so much for reading IPWatchdog and for sending your well wishes my way. I do plan on being much better in 2012. It will be so good to be pain free! I know He will walk beside me and guide my surgeon’s hands to keep me safe. Gene and I will keep you informed of my progress through our Facebook Pages. Please visit and like them so we can keep you up to date on my progress. Thank you again for your support.

    Find me as the Social Media Diva on FB @

    Gene is IPWatchdog @

    -Renée (The Social Media Diva)

  • [Avatar for Gerard]
    December 14, 2011 12:01 am

    Due to injury I had the same symptoms you described, then had the same C5-C6 procedure almost 6 years ago and can proclaim it a success. (Instead of a graft of my bone I had the artificial bone material inserted ala Mr. Manning.) My research then indicated this surgery’s success rate diminishes with the patient’s age, so being less than 50 (as I was) bodes very well. I was walking unassisted just hours afterwards and today have complete mobility–knock on wood. Here’s hoping your surgeon has a great day on Dec 15th.
    Be well,

  • [Avatar for Steve M]
    Steve M
    December 13, 2011 07:53 pm

    May God guide and bless you and your doctors throughout this challenge and your recovery Renee.

    See you feeling and doing much better in 2012!