Keith’s story: Back surgery 'saved my life'

Monday, October 9, 2017

By: Femi Cole

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Keith Kosnicki was deer hunting last fall when he was stopped in his tracks by shooting pain in his back.


“It was so bad,” he said. “There was no way to move that the pain would get out of the way.”


He braved the pain and eventually scheduled an appointment with a chiropractor. A back adjustment didn’t produce results.


“Then insurance said I had to do therapy,” he said.  That didn’t help, either.


Keith had to give up deer hunting and ice fishing for the season. He was in no condition to do either because of back pain that had begun radiating into his leg.


“I couldn’t sit for too long … I couldn’t do nothing,” he says.


Keith even stopped going on his daily walks.


“Normally I go for a 3-mile walk every day with my dog. I couldn’t do that,” he said. “I could barely take a shower. I could only stand for a few minutes at a time – my legs kept buckling.”


On the job at a Shawano paper mill, Keith struggled while trying to work under intense pain.


“I’m the crane operator. I have to lift the reels. My machine tender, he helped me a lot, helping me move,” Keith says.


Keith initially saw Dr. Ahmet Dervish, a pain and rehab medicine specialist with BayCare Clinic in Green Bay. Dervish determined that Keith’s symptoms were caused by a herniated disk and recommended conservative treatment as an initial step. Keith received injections, which gave him temporary relief.


Keith needed a permanent solution, so Dervish referred him to Dr. Gerald W. Eckardt, a neurosurgeon with BayCare Clinic in Green Bay.


Eckardt confirmed Keith’s diagnosis and determined that Keith was a surgical candidate. He scheduled Keith for surgery later that day.


“Probably because I was in so much pain,” Keith said.


Eckardt performed a discectomy, a hemilaminectomy and a foraminotomy, a series of surgical procedures that helped decompress Keith’s spinal nerves, alleviating his pain.


Surgery was the permanent solution Keith needed.


“I’m excellent. Once in a while, a little pain,” he says. “(Eckardt) figures that will happen for a while because that nerve was pinched for so long. I’m excellent now. He saved my life.”


Dr. Gerald W. Eckardt sees patients in Green Bay and Oshkosh. To request an appointment, call 920-288-8350 or do so online. Dr. Ahmet Dervish sees patients in Green Bay. To request an appointment, call 920-288-8377 or do so online.

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BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.