Steve Marsh

ProDisc L5-S1, Straubing, Germany - December 2005

Email from Steve and Margaret, 11/10/2006

Hi Mark,

It’s hard to believe that we were getting ready for Germany a year ago, but at almost 1 year post-op, I'm doing much better. Folks who haven’t seen me in a while comment on how the pain is not etched on my face anymore.

You know that my recovery was quite slow and contained more than just a few ups and downs. The distraction pain lasted about 3 months and thankfully, it's at ZERO now. After the distraction pain faded, the next challenge was the morphine withdrawal. When that was over, I had a long and wonderful period of ZERO pain. Attempts at higher activity levels brought on some disappointing setbacks, but I seem to have arrived at a level that allows me to function well with very low pain levels and no narcotics. The only thing I'm taking now for my back is ibuprophen. (However, I did have to cut back on my activities to achieve that.) Yoga, especially the mental aspects, has been important in my recovery and I highly recommend it.

You remember how severely disabled I was and while I'm no where near perfect, I'm so much better.

I still have some weakness in my right foot and leg, but the cane is long gone. I can roughhouse with my son now (actually running to chase him at times!) We can kick a soccer ball around and I'm walking 50 minutes/day with zero pain. I'm also back to working part-time. I'm also still very encouraged because I'm still seeing progress. Even if it stops and I stay where I am, I'm still so much better than I was. Thank you for everything you do. Your work has been so important to me, my family and so many others.

All the best,

Steve, Margaret and Will

PS. Feel free to have your clients contact me if they want to know more about my experiences.

Posted on the Journal of Steve's Caring Bridge site


It is New Year’s Eve and I just reviewed all of the guest book entries on the site. I am so moved and awed by the support I have received and the support that is out there. I have been thinking a lot about what the means to me and how important it is to carry that openness and support into the world. I am absolutely committed and available to anyone who needs advice or a sounding board in dealing with back pain, depression, surgery abroad, or anything else my experience triggers. This also includes my treasure trove of recipes (yes, I am the one who does most of the cooking, although Margaret is an excellent cook in her own right)!

I also wanted to acknowledge Mark Mintzer. His notes on this site are especially revealing, insightful and inspirational. I think that hearing his description of me before the surgery had much the same impact on me as his seeing me had on him. Throughout this process, it has been hard for me to know or accept how impaired I was – my own perspective is pretty skewed.

Mark has also been an incredible source of support and comfort throughout this process. From the moment we first talked, I felt that I was seen and heard and that I could trust him. It was so valuable to be able to talk with someone who had a window into what I was experiencing. In Germany, it was great to know that he was watching the surgery and to see him when I woke from anesthesia. It was also great to have him available to help listen, interpret and explain what was going on.

When I left Straubing, I knew that I was going to truly miss being around Mark and our conversations – about anatomy, physiology, surgery and life. He has such an honest desire to learn and help other people with whatever knowledge and wisdom he can learn and accumulate and share. He doesn’t make your decisions, but gives you the information you need to be comfortable with the ones that you make. Thanks Mark.

Finally, how am I doing? I have been feeling more depressed than I have been recently. The nerve pain is hard to deal with on a daily basis and I am so ready to be done with the chapter in my life. Even though I truly believe that this is a side-effect of the surgery, I am having a hard time holding that space of neutrality. The good news is that the nerve pain seems to have moved out of my butt, and I am hoping that is a sign of improvement. The other good news is that my back pain is no longer at the forefront of my consciousness and seems to be less.

Tonight, we will bring in the new year with a pomegranate-ginger champagne cocktail.

My love to you all,


Not in Germany yet... researching options in Los Angeles a few months earlier:
"Mark picked us up at LAX and attended our doctors appointment with us.
We went out to lunch and discussed the info we'd received and our options.
I can't believe how useful it was to have Mark participate at this level."


Arrived in Straubing to a great snow!

Steve's Guardian Alien overhead

The view from the Hospital

Bye-bye cane?


Out of the hospital!

Steve and Gary busted with their gluhwein.|

Lunch in an 1860's Chateau

Look at the icicles from the flume on the left.
One month later (on AnneC's page), this was a wall of ice!

Night time at the Stadtplatz