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From debilitating pain to immediate relief: A neurosurgery success story

San Juan Regional Spine Center,
a division of San Juan Regional Medical Center
Jenilee Rowse is now pain free and credits Dr. Cannella for giving her her life back.

Jenilee Rowse has always been extremely active. She loves to hike, wake surf, exercise, lift weights and compete in fitness competitions. So when she began experiencing shooting nerve pain down her leg, she knew something was seriously wrong.

"It was basically debilitating nerve pain. I couldn't even take a step without hitting the ground," Jenilee said.

"She couldn't even walk, she was just crawling," Jenilee's daughter Gentry said. "She could barely move her leg."

The pain was so extreme that Jenilee could barely leave the house to enjoy the many outdoor activities she loves to do with her family.

"We were at home all the time. We couldn't go anywhere as a family because there was no walking and we're a very active family. We couldn't go to the park and go for a walk, we couldn't go to the mountains, we couldn't do anything," her husband, Jeremy Rowse said.

Jenilee Rowse is back to enjoying time with her family thanks to San Juan Regional Spine Center.

Because Jenilee's pain started shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began, she had to wait to get an in-person appointment to find out what was wrong. An MRI revealed a synovial cyst on her spine that was pressing up against a nerve. The suggested treatment was very aggressive, and both Jenilee and Jeremy were left feeling uncomfortable knowing that it was the wrong option for them. The Rowses were discouraged, thinking they'd have to travel to Denver, Albuquerque or Phoenix for the high level of care they were seeking.

Then, a friend told them about her wonderful experience with Dr. Dominic Cannella, a neurosurgeon at San Juan Regional Spine Center in Farmington. They immediately made an appointment with Dr. Cannella for a second opinion.

"When we went to go see Dr. Cannella, I knew within the first five minutes that he was the doctor for me. I could tell right away that he really does care about his patients a lot. It's not just another spine to him. He looks at the person as a whole," Jenilee said.

"The very first visit was amazing," Jeremy added. "He was very detailed, very methodic."

The Rowses were not only impressed with Dr. Cannella; they were impressed with the level of professionalism displayed by everyone at San Juan Regional Spine Center. When it was time for surgery, that professionalism was evident in the caregivers' actions at San Juan Regional Medical Center.

"The surgical team at the hospital went above and beyond. I felt completely safe like I was in great hands," Jenilee raved. "I have a background in surgical nursing, so I was extremely impressed by the professionalism. The whole entire process couldn't have gone better."

Before the four-hour surgery began, Dr. Cannella made sure his patient knew she was his priority, which helped to alleviate her nervousness. When Jenilee woke up, she could hardly believe how she felt.

Before surgery, Jenilee could barely walk. Now she's back in the gym doing what she loves.

"I felt relief after surgery immediately. It was the first time in several months I hadn't had any nerve pain, and I haven't had any since," Jenilee said.

"The compassion and care and the professionalism we experienced at San Juan Regional Spine Center and San Juan Regional Medical Center has been different than anything we've ever experienced here in our area. We are grateful for them. It's been a blessing," Jeremy said.

Within a month, the family was back to enjoying outdoor adventures.

"The pain had me from going on something as simple as a walk. Now I can do all of the things I love with no pain whatsoever," Jenilee said. "If I could say anything to Dr. Canella, it would be thank you for giving me my life back."

To learn more about San Juan Regional Spine Center's comprehensive neurosciences services, visit www.sanjuanregional.com/Spine-Center or call 505.609.6595.

Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.