Melody Beattie
2-level Charite' - Dr. Willem Zeegers
AlphaKlinik, Munich, Germany - April 2005
(Updated 2/21/07)

A letter from Melody:

August 9, 2006 (almost 1.5 years post-op):

Hi Mark.

This was me a day or two after surgery. Trying to think back. When you're in pain, you think it'll never end and you'll never forget. Now that the "problem is solved" it seems like a distant memory, or a dream.

I remember lying on my couch, house-bound, then getting a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease. Essentially, my doctor said, "It sucks to be you." He hadn't heard of ADR. I was left with a picture of a spine where two discs were obviously trashed, no hope and no ability to live my life. I was lost in the process.

I couldn't accept that diagnosis anymore than I could accept the diagnosis I'd received thirty years ago when I saw a doctor for back pain and was told I had degenerative disc disease: you're either going to be in pain or on pain meds all your life. I'd kept the pain at bay until now -- but a cross country drive had put me across the line. I couldn't function anymore. The pain was constant. If I couldn't solve the problem, I didn't want to live.

I found an online forum for ADR -- artificial disc replacement. That's where I heard about you and the service you offered. I was intending to head for one clinic and heard a loud NO from the forum. And I learned I could send my x-rays and MRI to you and doctor shop without leaving my home. To me, that was a no-brainer. The cost of traveling internationally and locally to consult with several of these doctors versus putting my case on your site? I contacted you. Within days, my case was on your site. Within weeks, I was talking personally to Dr. Zeegers. Within two months, I'd had my surgery. It hurt like hell.

I'm a year out. My one-year x-rays show that my surgery exceeded our expectations. My spine has actually straightened; to the best of my knowledge, my spine has never been straight. I have some pain -- but I lead an almost entirely normal life. I lift my grandchildren. I carry my luggage. I travel. I do everything people do. In fact -- as we were discussing -- I'm planning my first skydive next month.

A lot of times in my life, I've prayed for a miracle -- meaning, I prayed for the problem to miraculously disappear. That hasn't happened for me, at least not that I can remember. I've had to go through what I went through. I prayed for a miracle for my back. I didn't "wake up overnight with a new spine and no problem." But I did get my miracle and I did get my new spine.

Mark, you were the one that made this possible -- you and Dr. Zeegers. Thanks for being there. Thanks for helping me find Zeegers. Thanks for talking me through the months after the surgery when I kept wondering if the discs had slipped out of place or not. Just plain thank you. Those words are so little for how much I received. You are part of a living universe -- part of a living God at work.


The Grief Club: The Secret to Getting Through All Kinds of Change

Melody's new book came out in August 2006.
Click on the book cover (left) for more.

Read about Melody's 1.5 year post-op skydive

Video here!

2/21/07 - Mark here... I just spoke to Melody. It's great to have a conversation with a spine patient, get 20 minutes into it and realize that we haven't discussed her back for a second... it's not a topic of conversation! She's 2 years out in April, I've asked her to come back and give us the 2-year report then!

PS.... she was fortunate to get 100% reimbursement from State Farm for her surgery in Munich!