Sandra’s Story

Site created on November 27, 2018

In 1996 Sandra was diagnosed with a benign tumor in her spinal column. She underwent surgery to remove the tumor and had a great recovery. Jump  ahead to 2009 and signs of the tumor returning started to occur.  Sandra again underwent surgery to remove  the tumor, however this time the surgery did not come out quite as successful. During the surgery the spinal cord was slightly damaged resulting in temporary paralysis in her right leg and the need for her to learn how to walk again. After a long recovery, Sandra was able to walk again but never regained all the abilities she had prior to the second surgery. 


So now we come to today. Over the last year and more specifically the last few months, Sandra has been experiencing significant issues with her balance as well as burning pain in her legs.  Once again MRIs were completed and now it has been discovered that she has a tethered spinal cord in her thoracic region of her back where the previous two surgeries were conducted, as well as a tethered spinal cord in the lumbar region as well.  A tethered spinal cord is when the spinal cord is basically stuck to the to the side of the covering of the spinal cord called the Dura.   Tethered spinal cords usually are found in children. We originally had scheduled surgery with a neurosurgeon on December 21,  However our son in law Tyler who is a Chief E.N,T Resident at OHSU  did further research for us and discovered that the best surgeon to conduct the surgery is actually a Pediatric Neurosurgeon.  We met with Dr. Lissa Baird at OHSU on Monday and  feel very comfortable that she is the best surgeon  for us. She was very kind to expedite the surgery and moved it up to Saturday December 15. 


Cloy or our daughter Natalie will be updating this site while Sandra is recovering from surgery.  We welcome your prayers and positive thoughts for a successful outcome to this surgery and a speedy recovery.

Newest Update

Journal entry by Sandra Swartzendruber

Hi everyone,

Natalie here, writing for my Mom. We have had an interesting last couple of days. 

My Mom was starting to have some difficulties again and so went in for an MRI so they could check things out. The MRI results came in this week and caused some concerns. Dr. Baird saw some built up fluid around the T-8/T-9 area and wanted to drain it. To get it done quickly they had to decide if they would go in immediately for surgery or wait and watch. The hard part is, my Mom and Dad are headed to Europe in two weeks and were concerned that waiting may not be the best option. So - they decided to do it the next day. They tried to fit her in yesterday but due to a number of reasons it got pushed back to this morning.

It was a good thing they went in because they found that the cord was tethered and there was a cyst instead of just the pocket of fluid. Dr. Baird is amazing! Today is technically her vacation but came in anyway to make sure my Mom was taken care of. For the last surgery Dr. Baird came in on a Saturday. So twice now she has come in on her day off - she deserves the biggest thank you!!

My Mom is in terrific spirits and is thrilled that she already feels better than she did going in (now...she's also super drugged and loopy and being her funny self, but we're still really hopeful this was a great success). She's even annoyed they won't let her just get up and do things on her own yet (haha, even though she's only a few hours out of surgery)...she does love her independence 😊 

She always loves hearing from you so feel free to text her and wish her well...you may even get a drugged Sandra text back <3
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