My name is Rick and I can't sit still. Some say that’s a problem. I actually take great pride in it.
From marathons to triathlons to waking up on a Saturday morning and riding my bike as far as my legs can take me – I’m addicted to fitness. But that almost changed.
I knew something wasn’t quite right when I got out of the water at a triathlon a few years ago. I managed to tough it out that day, but when I rolled out of bed for another race a few weeks later, I was in such excruciating pain that I fell to my hands and knees.
The diagnosis: slipped vertebra. Before long, it was difficult for me to get from my car to the door at work, much less hop on a bike and take on the world like I wanted. I was sidelined with chronic pain and, ultimately, paralysis set in on my right leg and foot.
I’m pretty good about fighting through pain and fatigue, but this was different. This was beyond pain. There was a point where I started to wonder: What if I can’t swim or ride or run again? What if it’s always like this?
That’s when my wife, Becky, and I – high school sweethearts and both Walmart associates for more than a quarter century – looked into the Centers of Excellence benefit in our health plan. Walmart partners with some of the best medical facilities in the country to provide its associates quality health care with little to no out-of-pocket cost for certain heart, spine, joint replacement and transplant surgeries.
We decided to give it a shot, and it was everything I could have hoped for and more. The company sent my wife and me to Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri. From access to the expert staff, to the actual surgical procedure, to the hotel room, food, and mileage up there and back home – everything was 100% covered.
With six screws and two rods in my back, I’m no fan of metal detectors. But this procedure really did give me my life back. The pain in my leg virtually vanished the morning after surgery and, over time, I was back to my usual self, pedaling upwards of 300 miles per week.
My wife and I are back to enjoying long bike rides on the weekends, swimming, running – out there enjoying our lives the only way we know how. And I can do so without the fear of what it will feel like tomorrow when I wake up.
To say I’m forever grateful would be an incredible understatement.
Editor's Note: In 2017, Walmart will double the number of world-class medical facilities available to our associates who have been told they need a spine surgery. Learn more here.