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George Fake "I'm a new man!"
by Peggy Bakken

George Fake of Delano worked for 40 years as a farmer, and spent just about as many years as an avid fisherman.

While he’d suffered on-and-off from back pain over the years, he’d been able to cope, seeking medical treatment when needed.

But then, one day in April 2010, something happened. He was pruning trees, when he started to feel back pain and hip pain that was excruciating.

The pain went on most of the summer. George was unable to work at his farm near Delano. More importantly to him, he was unable to fish up north. His wife Kristin described moving his recliner onto the porch of their second home near Akeley. “He really couldn’t move,” she said.

He returned to the Institute for Low Back and Neck Care for help. He’d been a patient there before, and treatments like cortisone shots had helped. But not this time.

Five shots later, he felt a little relief from the pain. But the next day, the agony returned.

Finally, Dr. David Strothman said it was time to operate.

That brought him to Maple Grove Hospital late in August. He and Kristin arrived about 9 a.m., and by 10 a.m. he was off to the operating room.

“It blew me away,” George said of the OR. “I felt like I was in Star Wars” because of the number of high-tech machines that surrounded him. “It was unbelievable!”

The next thing he remembers is waking up in his room. “A nurse was there every 10 minutes,” he recalled. “They were helpful, friendly, compassionate. Very special people work here.”

After the surgery, Dr. Strothman told Kristin, “We’ll never know how much pain he was in.” The surgery repaired a badly herniated disc and damaged nerves that caused his extensive pain.

George said he’s been in hospitals many times in his life. “This is the brightest, shiniest, prettiest facility there is.”

Kristin was also impressed with the facility and its staff. While George was in surgery, she was never left alone for long. “The nurses checked with me every 20 minutes,” she said. She also was given access to a computer that tracked George’s every step. “I could see every move, with minute-by-minute updates on the surgery. I knew when he moved out of OR before anyone told me.”

“Everything here is top notch, it’s one tremendous facility,” George said.

The Fakes have a farm near Delano plus a second home in Akeley (near Walker and Leech Lake). Fake loves to fish, and missing out on a season of fishing was tough. Now, however, the pain is gone and he’s back out on the water.

“The sunnies were great all summer, and I’m going to spend two weeks up there doing some fall walleye fishing,” George said.

He still needs to be careful lifting any kind of weight, but George was all smiles when he talked about his surgery.

“The pain is gone, and I’m a new man.”