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Posts Tagged ‘rehabilitation’

I was in Houston Texas this weekend at a conference on Religion and Medicine. On Saturday evening there was the premier screening of a film entitled “Your Health: A Sacred Matter.” It will view on PBS in May and Michelle and I are in it as are some of Michelle’s team members as well as members of our parish. You can see the trailer at the following web site. You can also check the web site as to when it will be shown in your area. yourhealthasacredmatter.com

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Thought you might enjoy seeing this clip of Michelle at Pal-O-Mine where she goes horseback riding every week. What a special place!
http://www.fios1news.com/longisland/push-pause-oc-pal-o-mine-partners#.V4j1Qa6zLAp

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After two surgeries and a year of recovery I’m finally back to horseback riding. What a sense of freedom!

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Michelle came home today. She spent a week in hospital therapy and is doing well. The therapists told me she walked 50 feet yesterday with a high walker. This is something she hasn’t done in a long time. The surgery was extremely intricate and difficult and we are all very grateful to the staff at NY Presbyterian Hospital. And then there’s Michelle. She is one tough cookie. Not one pain pill the entire time she was there and of course everyone fell in love with her.

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It’s been awhile since I blogged. That’s because I have spent the last two to three years navigating a frustrating, complacent, and at times, brilliant health-care system. Michelle suffered a severe TBI in 1998 and had made remarkable progress to the point where she was walking with a walker. Then about three years ago her physical ability began to deteriorate. She developed severe spasticity, went from a minimal assist to a maximum assist transfer, had trouble standing, and developed high blood pressure.

 

I took her to her neurologist who referred her to a neurosurgeon for testing. The neurosurgeon told me that frankly he did not know why I was there. He said, “I don’t diagnose, I fix.” He then sent me to another neurologist who specialized in movement issues. This neurologist recommended a CAT scan and an MRI of her head. The MRI technician would not do an MRI without knowing what type of shunt she had. I did not know so the MRI was never done although the CAT scan showed there were no problems with her shunt.

 

Several months later she went to the ER on Christmas day. There was a lump on the side of her neck where the tubing of her shunt ran and she was having terrible outbursts. They did another CAT scan there and another test on her shunt. She was in the ER for over five hours and after four hours began to have loud outbursts. The tests showed that there were no problems and my discharge notes were on how to control temper tantrums in children. Obviously, the ER physician had no understanding of brain injury and I resolved I would never enter that hospital again.

 

I found a new team of physicians at New York Presbyterian Hospital. I went to the hospital on Long Island to pick up the copies of her tests from Christmas and as I read them I saw that there was the possibility of a shunt fracture. No one had told me this. When I took the reports and the scans to her new neurosurgeon he did follow-up tests and indeed it was found that her shunt was fractured in her abdominal area. The shunt was surgically repaired and afterwards she made some progress, (she could now do weight bearing) but she still had a great deal of spasticity. I contacted a new neurologist at New York Presbyterian and contacted the hospital in Chicago for her medical records in order to try to determine what type of shunt she had. The medical records were sent, I was told, but they never arrived. I then contacted the Chicago office of the neurosurgeon who had done the original shunt surgery. The surgeon was no longer there but his partner informed me that her shunt was not MRI compatible. We were therefore limited to only CAT scans. We did CAT scans of her head and spine and all seemed well.

 

I still wanted to know what was causing these symptoms and I still had trouble accepting that her shunt was not MRI compatible since the shunt was implanted in 1998 and she had had an MRI in 1999. I had my own copies of the MRI done in 1999 and I took them to her new neurologist. He was able to tell from these that she could have an MRI. I also tracked down the neurosurgeon who had put the shunt in and found him in Florida. I faxed him his operating notes and he too verified that her shunt was non-programmable and an MRI could be done. The MRI technicians were hesitant but her new neurologist informed them that it was safe to do an MRI. The MRIs of her brain came back showing no problems. But then we did an MRI of her spine and discovered that she had a large cyst in her spine. We finally found the cause of her symptoms and on March 11th she will undergo spine surgery.

 

The neuro team on Long Island was only treating symptoms and not getting to the cause of the problem. The neurosurgeon in Chicago, who probably never tried to find out what type of shunt she had but played it safe by saying that her shunt was not MRI compatible, delayed the process by a year while the cyst kept growing.  The team in the city followed the symptoms until they finally found the cause. I hope someone will learn from this posting.

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Around 2.4 million Americans sustain a brain injury every year. Around 1.5 million Americans suffer a heart attack or stroke every year. Why is is we don’t hear more about brain injury? Visit the home page of the Brain Injury Association of America http://www.biausa.org to learn more. Brain injury can happen to anyone at any moment.

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The Mayo Clinic is in the midst of sponsoring a scholarship for their Social Media Conference in October. I am one of the entrants and as far as I can tell the only one representing brain injury. If you would like to see me win please click on the link and vote for me by hitting the like button next to facebook. If you are not on facebook you can also vote by posting a comment. Spread the word on your web sites. Many thanks.
http://network.socialmedia.mayoclinic.org/discussion/marilyn-martone-patientcaregiver-scholarship-2013

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