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Running the dream

Feb. 16, 2012

Thanks to Emory spine specialist Dr. John Heller, runner Darlene Goode was able to fulfill her dream of running the Boston Marathon - only months after surgery for degenerative disc disease.  The operation, known as a discectomy, involves removing one or more damaged disks. To keep the vertebrae from collapsing onto one another after discs are removed, surgeons fill the space between the vertebrae with a bone graft, which allows the vertebrae to grow together (fuse). In turn, fusion facilitates spinal stability, with reduced degrees of flexibility. Three months after surgery, Goode hit the road running. "My first run after the surgery was exhilarating because for the first time I was pain free," says Goode. Six months later, right on schedule, she headed to Boston.

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"Running the dream"