Bill Walton says his back pain got so bad that he had suicidal thoughts
Bill Walton looks like an upbeat guy who has everything going for him to those of us who are used to seeing him in the broadcaster’s booth, but that has not always been the case. Prior to 2009, Walton suffered through excruciating chronic back pain that impacted every aspect of his life. In Feb. of 2009, Dr. Steven Garfin of Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at UC San Diego performed a complicated surgery on Walton that allowed him to return to broadcasting and may have literally saved his life.
“When you are in unrelenting, excruciating and debilitating pain that never goes away for years on end, your life is over,” Walton told Richard Deitsch of SI.com. “You go through the stages of thinking you are going to die to wanting to die to the worst possible stage of all which is: I’m going to live and this is what I’m stuck with. But I got better and it is amazing what they have been able to do for me. I can think. I can sleep. I can move. I can ride my bike. I can dream.”
The procedure involved four incisions, four four-inch bolts, two titanium rods and a cage. Yes, all for a human being. Walton says that he is pain-free now and that the surgery was a “miracle.” Prior to the procedure, Walton said he gained strength from friends and family who urged him daily to keep fighting and steered him away from thoughts about suicide.
“I am busier than ever, happier than ever, and I haven’t been this healthy since high school,” he explained. “It’s a miracle what has happened to me. I have no pain. I take no medication. I had no idea what life was like without back pain.”
When an old-timer tells you ‘They don’t make ‘em like they used to,” tell them they’re right — they make them better. If not for advances in medical science, Walton would not be living a normal life. Or worse yet, he may not be alive at all.