Mountain climbing is a hobby I inherited first from my Grandmother Cici
and later from my mother — they both grew up in Torino near the
Alps. I was born in Italy but live now in Istanbul, in Turkey, and I have
been trekking and climbing around the world for years. Last year, I was
excited to be working on a plan to climb Mount Elbrus in Russia, 18,871
feet, the highest mountain on the European continent.
I knew I had a herniated disc, so when I developed numbness in my right
toe I assumed that was the cause. I went to see my physiotherapist here
in Istanbul, and I had an MRI that showed a Schwannoma tumor at the root
of the S1 nerve on my lower spine. One of the first things I did after
I was diagnosed was to call my expedition leader asking for the Mount
Elbrus climb to be put on hold.
I visited a few neurosurgeons, both here in Istanbul and in the United
States, and got different opinions about my case. When I saw Dr. Roger
Härtl, he told me that my real question was not
if to have surgery, but rather
when to have it. He told me that sooner or later I would need to have the tumor
removed to avoid complications in my right leg. Knowing my active lifestyle,
the conversation with Dr. Härtl prompted me to decide in favor of
surgery as soon as possible.
I had the surgery exactly one month after I noticed the first symptoms.
Everything had been well explained to me, and the process was very organized.
Dr. Roger Härtl was very clear, focused, and confident, and I was
very calm. Everyone on the team at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell
Medical Center was outstanding and extremely caring and welcoming. I was
sure I was being treated by the best of the best.
Dr. Roger Härtl’s operation was so minimally invasive that I
was able to regain my physical strength extremely fast. I basically had
minor discomfort for less than three weeks after surgery, and I now have
full function of my right leg and am feeling physically as strong as before.
Best of all, less than two months after the surgery I completed my climb
of Mount Elbrus!
Making that decision to have the surgery sooner rather than later allowed
me to carry on with my normal life as if nothing had ever happened. It
is such a relief knowing I am over the problem and able to resume all
my normal activities.
I can’t think of any better doctor then Dr. Roger Härtl or any
better place than NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital for treatment. (By the
way, the rooms looking on the river on the 11th floor are outstanding!)