Julie Horton

Julie Long

It’s hard to imagine that life as you know it can change overnight. This was the case for thirty-eight-year-old Julie Horton, mother of three, who simply woke one morning to extreme discomfort in her neck. Eventually, the pain became so severe she couldn’t perform daily tasks like sleeping, driving or even hugging her children.

“It was like one day the pain wasn’t there and the next day, it was. It seemed to just gradually get worse and worse, causing the muscles all around to get very tight and sore,” explains Julie.

After several years, the pain in Julie’s neck progressed, causing numbness in her fingers. She emotionally recalls the times when her son would reach for her for a hug, and she would say, “No, mommy hurts today – sorry sweetie, you can’t hug me.” Julie’s quality of life was suffering and she knew this pain was no longer sustainable. 

Desperate for relief, Julie was referred to London Health Sciences Centre’s orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Parham Rasoulinejad. After an initial assessment, followed by two separate MRIs, it was revealed that Julie had a pinched nerve caused by a herniated disc in her spine.

The good news was Dr. Rasoulinejad could fix it by performing a complex procedure aided by a surgical microscope. This vital equipment is necessary for magnifying these types of delicate procedures that navigate around the spinal cord.  

In late 2018, Julie received the call she had been waiting for – her surgery date. However, she was pregnant at the time with her daughter and would have to wait until she recovered to get the relief she longed for.

When the surgery date came in August 2019, Dr. Rasoulinejad and his team performed a procedure called an ACDF (anterior cervical discectomy infusion with hardware). The surgery, which took three hours, also required Julie to receive a bone graft, made possible through a deceased donor.

“When I woke up from surgery, I was in tears. I couldn’t believe [the pain] was gone,” describes Julie.

Once again, overnight, Julie’s world had changed forever - this time for the better. She went from unrelenting pain every day to an overwhelming feeling of freedom to be able to do the things she once feared.

Julie recovering from her surgery


“I remember thinking to myself, if I could just have one day without pain, I would give anything. Now, I can enjoy my life again,” says Julie. “[The surgery] not only gave me back my life, it gave me back my zest for life.”

Julie feels so grateful to Dr. Rasoulinejad and his team for their expertise as well as kindness, respect and patience. She considers herself lucky to have this kind of care close to home.

Julie knows her successful outcome, as well as many others, wouldn’t be possible without donations supporting research and state-of-the-art equipment. Now, she looks forward to helping Dr. Rasoulinejad raise money for future projects, such as a new orthopaedic spine microscope. Unfortunately, the one Dr. Rasoulinejad used for Julie’s surgery recently stopped working and urgently needs to be replaced. With donor support, patients like Julie can also get their zest for life back. 

If you would like to learn more about how you can support the new spine microscope, please contact Alison McCloskey, Senior Development Officer, at 519.685.8720 or Alison.mccloskey@lhsc.on.ca