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Living life again: Pawleys Island man overcomes chronic back pain, insulin dependence

Wellness

Living life again: Pawleys Island man overcomes chronic back pain, insulin dependence

Wellness Pawleys Island resident Gerald Knorr is walking without pain again through his hard work and the help he received at Tidelands Health.

Pawleys Island resident Gerald Knorr is walking without pain again through his hard work and the help he received at Tidelands Health.

Gerald Knorr is looking forward to walking onto a cruise ship again.
Debilitating back pain coupled with complications from diabetes left him unable to walk more than 40 feet without stopping to rest. Today, the 74-year-old Pawleys Island resident walks without pain and no longer needs insulin to keep his blood sugar in check.
Knorr credits his remarkable improvement to the multidisciplinary care he received at Tidelands Health.
“Tidelands Health to me has been so encompassing. The team at Tidelands Health in general — from the hospitals to the doctors and nurses to the staff in the gym — has literally changed my life,” Knorr says.

'On the right path'

Knorr was diagnosed with diabetes in 1997 and was taking 66 units of insulin every day when he moved to Pawleys Island from Brooklyn six years ago. He sought out Dr. Philip Nicol, a Tidelands Health internal medicine physician who helps patients manage diabetes at Tideland Health Diabetes Center.
“I did some bloodwork, which suggested he did not need to be on insulin. We began tapering him off, and we were successful in doing that,” Dr. Nicol says.
If you take insulin when you don’t need it, Dr. Nicol says, you’re likely to gain weight. That’s exactly what happened to Knorr.

“Dr. Nicol explained to me the importance of lowering the amount of insulin and doing this by diet. And so he put me on a strict diet, and I had to report back to him on a weekly basis,” Knorr says. “I owe it to Dr. Nicol…for putting me on the right path to my own diabetic care.”
Through hard work, persistence and Dr. Nicol’s help, Knorr was able to get his diabetes under control and stop taking insulin completely. Dr. Nicol also recommended Knorr see a cardiac specialist, who implanted a cardiac stent and referred Knorr to rehabilitation to recover and improve his overall health.

Getting stronger

Richard Morris, clinical conditioning coordinator at Tidelands HealthPoint Center for Health and Fitness, our region’s only medical fitness center, helped Knorr recover following his stent implant and has continued to work with him to improve his strength and cardiovascular fitness.
“When I first started with Gerry, he had a number of issues. He had high blood pressure, and he’d just had a cardiac stent put in. He also had diabetes and had spinal stenosis,” Morris says.
Morris says Knorr had to stop several times to walk about 150 yards to Morris’s office inside the fitness center. Swelling in Knorr’s legs, shortness of breath and back pain prevented Knorr from walking on the treadmill.
Recognizing the need to address his chronic back pain to improve his mobility and continue his journey toward better health, Knorr saw Dr. M. Daniel Eggart, a neurosurgeon who practices at Tidelands Health Neurosciences. Dr. Eggart said he could surgically correct Knorr’s spinal stenosis using a minimally invasive procedure, but Knorr needed to improve his health before Dr. Eggart could proceed.
“(Dr. Eggart) said you have to lose weight, and then you have to go back to your doctors, and they have to certify that you can have the operation,” Knorr said.

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By working hard at Tidelands HealthPoint and staying focused on his goal, Knorr lost 40 pounds and reduced his blood pressure, allowing him to proceed with the back surgery. The operation included two small incisions to reverse years of damage.
“We’re very proud of him for his preoperative conditioning,” Dr. Eggart says. “He optimized his lifestyle and strengthened his back, and I think that largely contributed to his good outcome.”
Now that he can walk without pain, Knorr says he looks forward to taking cruises with his wife again.
“We’ve been all over the world. I think I’ve been to 65 countries. Being able to walk on the tours and not have to be pushed around in a wheelchair — those are the things I’m really looking forward to,” he says.

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