A former professional water skier who performed all over the world, Billy is the kind of consummate outdoorsman who could give Ernest Hemingway a run for his money.
Even after several operations for traumatic injuries, he still enjoys his favorite sport along with surfing, hang gliding, free diving, and spear fishing. Billy's just had to tone it down a few notches in recent years.
"Now I can do things on a recreational level, not a professional level," he said.
Billy's back and neck troubles began when he got into a car accident in 1991. He was riding in the passenger seat after attending a college football game one rainy night when his friend's car slid off the road and flipped five times. The result: a crushed neck.
His surgeon, Dr. David Campbell, removed bone from Billy's iliac crest, or the part of the hip that juts out the most, for use in repairing the crushed bones in his spine (fusing the C4 and C5 vertebra). Dr. Campbell then went in from the front side to implant the bone graft and a metal plate to stabilize the injury while it healed.
Then, in 1993, Billy's car was hit from behind, which re-fractured his previous injury. Dr. Campbell removed more hip bone and entered the wounded area from behind this time to fuse and rewire the lower part of Billy's cervical spine.
"I guess I didn't have a lucky couple of years there," Billy said. But this wasn't to be the last of Billy's encounters with Dr. Campbell.
In 1995, Billy was involved in a motorcycle accident. He fractured two vertebrae and dislocated one in his middle and lower spine. But he started having problems after surgery.
"I never felt really anatomically normal," he said. "I felt like I was always being pushed forward instead of being the normal swayback. So, in other words, all the pain was still there-a lot of pain was still there."
So Billy visited Dr. Campbell once again.
"He opened me up from the front side," Billy said. "From my hips up, he put in some metal cages, side by side. He took bone out of my left front hip to put into the cages...Then he flipped me over and took my old rods out and put in a new set."
Even so, Billy's not much worse for wear. Before his first accident, for 18 years, he was a stunt water skier for shows at Sea World and Cypress Gardens, where he performed as a long-distance free-style jumper.
Now a wholesale broker of automobiles, Billy saves his love of action for off hours.
"I feel incredible," he said. "I am in no pain. I don't have the flexibility that I used to...but I am really pain-free to be honest with you."
As you read this please keep in mind that all treatment and outcome results are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary. Complications, such as infection, blood loss, or nerve damage are some of the potential adverse risks of spinal surgery. Please consult your physician for a complete list of indications, warnings, precautions, adverse events, clinical results, and other important medical information.