Dawn Pitts carrying her granddaughters

Dawn Pitts

Trying to keep up with four active sons and four granddaughters, Dawn Pitts pushed through excruciating neck and back pain every day for two decades. She was shuffled between multiple doctors; none could detect the cause of her pain. After years of shut doors and exhaustive measures, Olumide Danisa, MD, orthopaedic surgeon at Loma Linda University Health, observed her case with ease and granted the now 51-year-old the blessing to move through life pain-free.

The pain in Pitts’ limbs, neck, and back could not be attributed to a specific incident or moment in life. In her 30s, she began feeling aches that progressively got much worse. When the pain became unbearable, she sought medical help, but no one would take on her case.

“Multiple doctors told me it was in my head. They made me feel like I was imagining the excruciating feelings in my body,” Pitts said. “What do you do after that?”

"No one deserves to be hopeless."

Dr. Olumide Danisa

After finding her way to Dr. Danisa, he ordered an x-ray and MRI. The results showed multi-level degenerative disc disease in her neck and cervical spine, stenosis, and foraminal stenosis. Knowing the surgery may be invasive, he proposed physical therapy, injections, and alternative treatment options.

Danisa has experienced many patients unwilling to move forward with surgeries because a pain-free life seemed abstract with a risk greater than reward. Pitts never lost the faith and was determined to keep up with her growing family. Through each failed treatment and being turned away by other facilities, she looked to her oldest son and granddaughter for motivation. “I wanted… I needed to be there and healthy for them,” Pitts said behind tears. Her son’s wife died when her granddaughter was just 2 years old.

“No one deserves to be hopeless,” Danisa said. “And she gleamed at the idea of finally getting a proper surgery.”

Danisa and his team intended to perform two surgeries on Pitts 48 hours apart. The first surgery focused on the foraminal stenosis, narrowing of the spinal canal. Pitts felt the success of the surgery one day post-operation. The alleviated pressure on her nerves mitigated the pain in her arms she had assumed was with her forever.

Living the miracle he performed on her neck, Pitts came back five months later for that same care on her back. Danisa performed spinal fusion, sent her to physical therapy, and Pitts is now the most active she has been in her whole life. Her days consist of yoga, hiking, skiing, and her favorite part, watching her sons raise her granddaughters.

“I am just so grateful for Dr. Danisa,” Pitts said. “Obviously the surgeon, but the human, his personality and humor made everything easier.”

Learn more about the Loma Linda University Health orthopaedic team and services they provide at https://lluh.org/orthopaedics.

Watch Dawn Pitts share her story below.