Get Back in Step
Lorraine Polinsky Clark and her husband, Steve, moved to Sun City Grand from Chicago three years ago to spend their early retirement years living an active lifestyle. As competitive level ballroom dancers with professional training in Chicago from a world champion, they were drawn to the Valley’s popular ballroom community and enjoyed dancing regularly during the first year living here.
Then one day, out of the blue, it was like a light switch went on and Lorraine was suddenly in severe pain. “Immediately, I was in excruciating pain from my waist all the way down to my heel,” she said. “It was the worst, most debilitating pain and literally came out of nowhere.”
The pain would lessen a bit overnight, but then start up again as soon as she would stand up in the morning. “It was awful. There were times when I couldn’t even stand up to cook dinner and I was in so much pain I would cry myself to sleep.”
Over the course of a year, Lorraine went to specialist after specialist – over 20 different in all – seeking relief from the pain. She went to chiropractors, acupuncturists, physical therapists and pain management physicians and tried everything and anything they recommended, but to no avail. She had two MRI’s performed, but no one could ever really give her a definite answer as to what the problem was or how to ease the pain.
“I am like anyone else – I’ve experienced sadness and loss in my life,” Lorraine recalled. “But I had never experienced the emotion ‘despair’ before. I was at the point where I was giving up hope because nothing was working. My life was literally put on hold while I was dealing with this.”
Luckily, Lorraine found Dr. Justin Field, orthopedic spine surgeon with Desert Institute for Spine Care operating at Scottsdale Healthcare. After a thorough analysis process, Dr. Field correctly diagnosed the problem and knew that surgery was the only option. Lorraine admits that after all of the previous failed attempts, she didn’t go into the surgery with such high hopes. “But Dr. Field was so confident he could help me, I decided to go for it. I didn’t have much else to lose!”
During that surgery, Dr. Field found that Lorraine’s spinal condition was even worse than anticipated. She had an unstable spine so her vertebrae were no longer able to function normally, and would not remain “stacked” or aligned as they should in a healthy spine. After removing a large mass of inflamed scar tissue, replacing a disc and inserting titanium rods – among other things – Dr. Field was able to stabilize her spine and relieve her pain.
“I remember being in the hospital the third day after the surgery, and when I got out of bed and stood up, it was the strangest thing – no pain!” she said. “I didn’t want to jinx myself, so I kept quiet. But at that point, I was finally hopeful.”
And jinx herself Lorraine did not. She was told it would be a four month recovery process, but after two months she was up and dancing again with her only limitation being no ‘dipping.’
“I’ll never forget when I went back to Dr. Field’s office a few months later and he gave me a completely clean bill of health,” Lorraine laughed. “He said I had no more limitations with dancing at all, so my husband grabbed me, dipped me to the ground and said ‘I’ve been waiting a long time to do this!’ It was a happy moment for us both.” She added “It was also probably a first for Dr. Field to have a patient dancing and dipping in his exam room like that!”
Now, Lorraine is completely pain free and enjoying her dancing once again. She and Steve recently took a three week trip to Europe where they danced, enjoyed the theater and explored everything Europe has to offer. They even cruised home from London to New York City on the famous Queen Mary 2.
“I couldn’t wait to dress up in my fanciest ball gown and waltz across the Atlantic Ocean on the largest ballroom at sea!” she said. “It’s always been my dream, and it wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for Scottsdale Healthcare and Dr. Field. He truly gave me my life back!”
- Lorraine Polinsky Clark