NPR

A Year After Spinal Surgery, A $94,000 Bill Feels Like A Backbreaker

A service called neuromonitoring can cut the risk of nerve damage during delicate surgery. But some patients are receiving large bills they didn't expect.
Since her spinal surgery, Liv Cannon has been able to work in the garden and play with her energetic dogs without having to worry about pain. Source: Julia Robinson for Kaiser Health News

Spinal surgery made it possible for Liv Cannon to plant her first vegetable garden.

"It's a lot of bending over and lifting the wheelbarrow and putting stakes in the ground," the 26-year-old says as she surveys the tomatillos, cherry tomatoes and eggplants growing in raised beds behind her house in Austin, Texas. "And none of that I could ever do before."

For the first 24 years of her life, Cannon's activities were limited by chronic pain and muscle weakness.

"There was a lot of pain in my legs, which I can now recognize as nerve pain," she says. "There was a lot of pain in my back, which I thought was, you know, just something everybody lived with."

Cannon saw lots of doctors over the years. But they couldn't explain what was going on. She'd pretty

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