Anybody who has experienced intense lower back pain will tell you that just trying to get through the normal activities of daily living can be excruciating.
So imagine what it must feel like to endure back pain while performing a strenuous, even athletic magic act.
That is exactly what 70-year-old Raymond Teller of Penn and Teller fame has been enduring for years, right up until last Wednesday night when he decided that he simply was not able to go on.
The pair had already planned to go on hiatus to allow Teller to undergo spinal fusion surgery, but his pain was so intense last week that for the first time in 43 years of performing, he skipped the regular after show meet and greet, heading straight to the telephones to cancel upcoming shows and reschedule his surgery for the soonest date possible. The spinal fusion surgery took place this past Monday.
Spinal fusion surgery is one of the best answers to relentless back pain that has not responded to other treatment protocols. Recent improvements have allowed the surgery to be performed in a minimally invasive way, making a small incision in the back that allows the surgeon to widen the spinal canal, remove all or part of any herniated discs, then replacing the removed materials with a bone graft to fuse the vertebrae left behind together, as well as titanium rods and screw to provide strength, support, and stability.
The surgery has provided tremendous relief to patients who have had it, eliminating pain from the hips, buttocks, legs and back that were previously caused by spinal fractures, lumbar spinal stenosis, disc herniation and other painful conditions.
Penn and Teller have been performing their comedy and magic show for forty years, and according to Teller, his back problems are the result of decades of “hanging from straightjackets and climbing in and out of boxes for more than forty years.”
Though the show was originally scheduled to go dark on July 10th, Teller’s pain was simply too intense for him to continue. He finished the performance and then began making calls.
Later he tweeted to his followers, “My sincere apologies to our fans in Biloxi and folks who were planning on seeing the Vegas show. Last night during the show my back firmly ordered me to cut the crap and get it fixed. So I’m stopping work from today till August 18th and getting my back surgery pronto. Love – T,” and again later added, “In our entire prior career, I think we’ve had to cancel only four shows on short notice. So I (and much of our crew) feel disoriented and befuddled — as if we’re in one of those showbiz nightmares where you can’t find your way back to the stage in time for the next cue.”
Jillette also posted, “Teller is getting his back totally fixed a little sooner than expected. So P&T are on hiatus from everything until August 18th and then the boys will be back and bad!” Later both tweeted when the surgery was over.