TELLER COUNTY, COLORADO — After undergoing a 10-hour surgery to rebuild his lower spine in 2018, Mike Kern was hoping for a major improvement in his daily quality of life.
Mike says that before the surgery, his back pain was unbearable, so much so that he didn’t want to leave the house. “I didn't want to do anything. It wasn't fun to go out. It wasn’t fun to go to the grocery store and be the guy laying over the cart and walking around following your wife.”
When I visited with Mike recently at his home in Divide, he had a smile on his face and told me, “You can see how I am now; I'm not bad. I'm doing pretty well and I'm doing things I never thought I'd be doing, like going fishing.”
Mike has traveled a long journey with back problems. After having his lumbar spine rebuilt, in early 2022 he returned to Dr. Sergiu Botolin, who specializes in complex spine surgeries at UCHealth, to address issues with his cervical spine requiring another 10 hour surgery. He’s still technically healing from that surgery but even now, he and his wife are seeing such big differences that they are both making big plans for their future.
“Once I recoup this (latest) surgery, which will take about a year for it all to fuse, we're talking about traveling again. A couple of weeks ago, my wife said to me, ‘Come on Mike, we're going to the post office.’ I said, ‘Why are we going to the post office, what’s there?’ She said, ‘We're going to get our passports renewed.’ I said, ‘Where are we going?’ and she says to me, ‘Nowhere right now, but we're going somewhere.’ And I agree with that, we haven't traveled in a while, so that's a good thing and I feel like doing it now.”
Mike tells me the reason he wanted to share his story was so that others who might be living in pain will seek the help that is out there. He also wanted to thank Dr. Botolin. Mike recalls, “I was so worried that I could never do anything again before I had my first surgery. Then I felt great, so I had to take care of the second surgery (my cervical spine). I figure with Dr. Botolin I was under the knife between the two surgeries for 20 hours-plus. You put a lot of trust into a man like that. He is so caring and so thoughtful. I have had good surgeons through all my surgeries but no one that feels like he’s your uncle or something. He's so concerned about you. I have nothing but praise for him. I wouldn't be here right now except for him. I really don't think I'd be literally walking this earth right now, I really don't.”
Of Mike’s kind words and gratitude, Dr. Botolin says, “He's too kind, he's a kind and generous man and I'm very grateful that I've met him, in my professional and personal life.”
Dr. Botolin tells me he is grateful Mike’s surgeries have had such great outcomes and simply hopes to continue using his skills to help others. “This is why I'm in this community. My goal and purpose in life is to serve the community and help people that could use my skills and knowledge, and that is what I plan to do.”
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