David Is Back on His Bike After Spine Surgery at the Inova Spine Program

David Galiyas, 62, has lived an active and adventurous life. A college football athlete, he graduated from the United States Naval Academy before flying F-18 fighters in the U.S. Marine Corps. David built a career in the private sector after retiring from the Marines, but his most important role is as a husband, father and grandfather.

Although back problems had plagued him since his late 20s, David had avoided surgery – until everything changed one Wednesday morning in early October 2022. “I got up, and I felt something let go in my back,” David said.

David headed to the emergency room on Friday evening. He returned home with medication, but by Sunday, he couldn’t walk and was in extreme pain. He returned to the ER and got an MRI, which showed that his spine injury needed urgent surgical intervention to correct it. David was admitted to Inova Loudoun Hospital to prepare for surgery the following day. At the same time, Raqeeb Haque, MD, neurosurgeon with the Inova Spine Program based at Inova Loudoun Hospital, was reviewing David’s case in consultation with his spine specialist colleagues to develop a treatment plan.

There is no such thing as a routine spine surgery, Dr. Haque noted. “We take it quite seriously anytime we do surgery. Everything requires planning and studying the approach to determine how to help the patient. In David’s case we had to decompress the spine and the nerves, making sure he didn’t’ have any nerve damage or complications,” Dr. Haque said.

The next morning, Dr. Haque explained to David that he had a herniated disc in his lower back, and two of the pieces that had slipped out of place had migrated upward and were pressing against his spinal cord. That spinal cord compression was causing David’s severe pain and leg weakness.

“With this severity of weakness and pain, if it’s left too long, the weakness can become permanent,” Dr. Haque said. “We were worried that could happen in David’s case, so the best option was to take him to the OR urgently.”

“As a Marine aviator, I know what it means to put your confidence in another person and to place your life in that person’s hands,” David said. “I believed Dr. Haque when he said, ‘David, you will walk out of here.’”

On Monday, October 11, David underwent surgery. “I had a great experience at the hospital. The team was amazing,” David said. After the surgery, David proved Dr. Haque right. “I got out of bed after surgery and walked – my pain was gone.”

He followed Dr. Haque’s postsurgical instructions to the letter, and today, David walks six miles several times a week, rides his Peloton three times a week and no longer takes any medication for back pain.

(R-L: David Galiyas with his wife on a bike ride.)

“David is doing fantastically well. He has had a full recovery and reversal of his symptoms. Everyone was over the moon: David, his family and our whole team,” Dr. Haque said.

“I’ve been blessed with a great surgeon as well as a great team,” David said. “My physician assistant, Lauren Yourish, was just tremendous. To use a Top Gun movie reference, she was the Goose to Dr. Haque’s Maverick,” David added.

Dr. Haque agrees. “We have a phenomenal team here, and whenever we approach these complicated cases, we discussed it using a multidisciplinary approach involving nursing, physical therapy, orthopedic surgery and others. In addition, my Inova Spine Team partners Dr. Sid Chandela and Dr. Mark Shasti, and I at Inova Loudoun go through every one of these cases together in depth to determine the best way forward,” Dr. Haque said.

Now pain-free, David looks forward to continuing his active lifestyle for years to come. “I am back to my life. I can run, cycle, hunt and play with my grandkids,” David said. “I’m working to make every day count.”

To learn more about the Inova Spine Program at Inova Neurosciences, visit inova.org/spine.

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