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Howard B. Cotler
MD, FACS, FAAOS
Howard B. Cotler, MD, is board certified and recertified in orthopaedic surgery. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery and the American College of Surgeons.

Donna Felder-Rucker Testimonial for Dr. Cotler

Donna Felder Rucker

Hey there, Dr. Cotler!

Who would ever have thought I’d be talking to you on social media?! Thank you for “friending” an old (in more than one way) patient as your friend! You were a godsend to me in more ways than either of us ever realized.

I detested your bedside manner then, but in spite of me, you brought my body successfully through 3 grueling times in my life. The 360 fusion on my lumbar spine was the first, followed over the next several years, with the cervical ones. Our memories will likely differ, but the day Rufus and I came in to your office for the last one and you went pale (I called it sheet white) with the realization of my injury, after seeing the films I brought to you, I felt truly cared for and loved by my doctor! It was disc material free floating in my spinal canal. Your face and your instructions pending surgery were grave and totally convincing – in spite of the fact that my range of motion seemed great to me. I was 180-190 lb at that time, with a height of 5’2”.

That successful surgery resolved threat of paralysis, but left considerable residual pain. Ultimately, you referred me to pain management. The following fall, struggling yet with pain, Rufus and I drove to Idaho for our son’s wedding Open House. Having experienced anxiety and back pain problems for months, we were stopped for gas on the return trip, after leaving a Ship Rock, NM ER with more meds and shots. I bought a Family Circle magazine there, highlighting side effects of meds, some of which I was taking. You shot into my mind like a lightning bolt! IN ROUTE back to Texas, I went cold turkey off of OxyContin… everything other than my back pain medications, realizing I was killing myself with prescription drugs. I told you, I might be slow in healing, but when I am there, it is sure! A search for better health, period accompanied the dropping pain meds!

Fast forward now…

18 really good years, generally pain-free, till very recently. No accidents this time. I do cakes. Driving home from an event with one of them in April, I noticed both hands were going numb holding the wheel. I was thinking internal issues, possible pinched nerve, not new spinal problems causing the pain between my shoulder blades and the boring penetrating pain in the left one, not to mention the assumed arthritic pain in the joints of both hands.. The S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) had not succeeded as had the dropping of prescription meds. The blessings of our wonderful country are also some of the curses! My weight issues had increased due to emotional stresses during my husband’s illness (Parkinson’s with Lewy Bodies). (I’m now 64 yrs old, widowed, my greatest boon and support gone for nearly four years.)

My Chiropractor, after the 3rd visit that week, sent me away with an anti-inflammatory diet program and a referral letter for a 2nd opinion, outlining his findings and recommending an MRI, as he was outside my network, so I’d need to see a network dr. You were THE top of my list.

From his office, I went directly to a friend active in DoTerra Essential Oils. He made a comment, “Any spinal issues, not caused by an accident, are dietary issues.” Can’t quote him exactly, but he echoed what my Chiropractor had said just hours earlier. Again, pow-boing! Howard Cotler comes to mind! (Weight is controlled with proper diet! Weight affects the functioning of the spine.)

This friend, a tall slender man, had identical symptoms to mine a couple of years ago and began to treat himself through diet and the essential oils. He was greatly improved within a few months, but continued his regimen for an entire year. He now runs marathons!

I called my insurance the next day, thrilled and comforted. You were in network. I set the appointment. In early May, the night before I was to see you, your office cancelled due to a change of policy seeing HMO patients. SO…my insurance plan negates the trusted care of my surgeon of choice!! .

Remembering your policy to provide patients with other patients’ names and contact information, I felt a strong need, and wanted to hear from your lips, who would operate on you (in my network) if the necessity ever came….but I convinced myself, I’d only hear whatever the girls in your office would offer me, so I “saved myself that pain” and didn’t ask.

Weeks later, finally saw the only network Ortho surgeon I found near me specializing in the cervical spine (I was not impressed! The mold was broken after Howard Cotler was made!) I was straight up with him as to my feelings about meds. He ordered scripts after the x-rays in his office anyway. He recommended steroids and anti-inflammatory meds first, but felt there’d be a need for surgery to trim the bulging discs (there are four involved!) and didn’t acknowledge what I’d said regarding meds. I have not gone back.

I opted to remain on the DoTerra Deep Blue polyphenol complex and essential oil omega complex with application of other anti-inflammatory oils applied daily and have been consistent with the anti-inflammatory diet and “adequate” rest.

I am not only making real progress with the pain, but losing weight (14 lb over this 2 months, after 10 I’d lost last year and kept off) and I’m firmly convinced that the Lord is tutoring me v-e-r-yyy slowly, knowing that I need long term, consistent good habit building.

There is one reason only why I’m the tiniest bit thankful I could not see you for this problem now. I was not looking forward to the disappointment on your face to have had to see the 244 lb of me in your office and just shake your head inside to see that I still “hadn’t gotten it.”

My pain is now minimal and diminishing, with occasional short lived flare-ups that leave with “adequate” rest. My scales have descended to 229.6 as of my last weigh-in. I hadn’t seen that 29 in close to 15 yrs. Every lb is hard won, but I’m sooo thankful for every ounce!! I’m making my goals in 10 lb increments and, with patience and perseverance, WILL see 135 to meet my ultimate goal. I’m building my exercise routine along with my diet, truly taking responsibility for ME.

Thank you for the wonderful blessing you’ve remained because of all your care those years ago. I’m going to get this right yet!! Thank you for who you are! Thank you for every word of counsel that still rings in my ears when it means the most. Thank you for your integrity and straight forward grit, and for using your knowledge to truly assist your patients in finding a better overall lifestyle that will delete the need for surgeries down the road, excepting actual injuries!

I look forward to our future associations and am excited to benefit here from your knowledge in ways that will assist in my enjoyment of the years that remain of my life, in my best health ever! I’m so thankful to have found your name on my Face Book screen today and dared to send you that friend request. I hope, in some way, I may prove a blessing to you somewhere along the way as well!

My very best regards!!

Donna