Physicians Team Up to Get Officer Back on his Bike
Tony Blencowe, 46, was doing the job he loves when he felt a pinch in his neck.
The California Highway Patrol officer was on his motorcycle taking a quick glance over his left shoulder when he felt something snap. It was a motion he’d made many times during his 19-year career.
After his first trip to the doctor, he took a wait-and-see approach. But nothing was improving and by the weekend, he ended up in the NorthBay VacaValley Hospital Emergency Department.
What he thought was a pinched nerve was actually herniated discs — C 5-6 and C 6-7 to be precise.
A follow-up appointment with Yolanta Petrofsky, M.D., at NorthBay Occupational Health in Vacaville led to collaboration with another physician: Sherry Taylor, M.D., a neurosurgeon with the NorthBay Center for Neuroscience.
“Tony made it very clear he wanted surgery,” recalled Dr. Taylor. “I recommended anterior cervical dissection with fusion. It’s a surgery I’ve done many times over the past 25 years, and with lots of success.”
Tony went for a second opinion, but quickly came back to schedule a Nov. 9 surgery with Dr. Taylor.
“The surgery went great, but the recovery was hard,” he admitted. He was used to being active at work. He had to hold still and move slowly for weeks. He admits, it drove him — and probably his wife — a little crazy.
But by the end of January, he was cleared to return to work with modified duty, and back on his motorcycle by March.
“With first responder personnel, a collaborative effort is important to determine at what point the patient can return to a modified duty opportunity, and finally back to their full duty position,” explained Dr. Petrofsky. “It’s essential, not just for the safety of the patient, but also for the public they protect and defend.”
He is thankful for the great care he received, he said.
“My goal,” he said, “is to ride the motorcycle all the way into retirement, which is coming up in three years. For now, I’m just happy to be back on the road again.”
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