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Bob Hogue

Walton’s Back And Raves About It

Bill Walton

Bill Walton says a new procedure ‘saved my life’. Photo courtesy Bill Walton

Bill Walton’s enthusiasm came through loud and clear.

“I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” he said to me over and over again during our recent phone conversation.

For nearly a half an hour from his home in San Diego, he opened up about how his struggles with back pain had affected his life, about how it had almost driven him to consider ending it all and about how a revolutionary back surgery had finally changed everything for the better.

Walton, the 59-year-old Hall of Fame basketball star with a personality every bit as big as his 6-foot-11inch frame, will be in Honolulu to share his story at a free-to-the-public back pain seminar the evening of Feb. 29 at Ala Moana Hotel.

“It will be a night of inspiration and hope for a full and pain-free life,” Walton says. “I lived with back pain for nearly all my life, ever since I broke my back in 1974. I thought the debilitating pain was just the way life was. But three years ago, a brilliant doctor using technology developed by NuVasive, changed everything. Now, I have no pain. I take no medication. I can do almost anything I want to I can ride my bike all day long, I’m in the pool, I go to the weight room. I’m on the go all the time.”

Walton’s story is part of a support-group program called The Better Way Back, as he was the beneficiary of a minimally disruptive surgical technique called XLIF.

“I spend hours on the phone or at the computer talking with people about their back pain and talking them off the bridge,” Walton says. “I was there, too. Prior to my surgery, the pain so excruciating, so devastating and so debilitating, I was on the floor for practically two years. When people ask me how painful it was, I tell them it was like being in a vat of scalding acid with an electrical current going through it.”

“If I had gun then, I would have used it,” he says candidly. “I was on the edge of the bridge ready to go off.”

Walton says he had considered back surgery many times, but didn’t think it would work. “It seemed that everybody I talked with told me, ‘You don’t want to have back surgery’!”

Then Walton was introduced to a doctor of orthopedics from the University of California at San Diego, Steven Garfin, who had developed a new less-invasive technique.

“Dr. Garfin saved my life,” Walton told reporters.

After years of pain, the legendary basketball star was up and walking painfree the very next day.

“I’ve been told that there are hundreds of people, maybe more, in Hawaii with chronic back pain,” he says. “When you are in debilitating pain, you often give up because you see no way out. But I want people to know that there is a better way back I know it, I believe it, I live it. I’ve never been busier, I’ve never been happier.”

Walton’s message also encompasses the people who live with the victim.

“It not only ruins your life, but it ruins the life of the people around you,” he says. “I’ve been there, and I’ve come back. I feel it’s a miracle what’s happened to me.”

For more information, check out thebetterwayback.org or call 1-800-7457099 to grab a seat for the free educational seminar. Seating is limited to about 250 people.

“I’m looking forward to coming and sharing my story with the people of Hawaii,” Walton says. “I have the biggest grin on my face right now. I’m pain-free. I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”

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