Not Feeling Quite Right
The numbness started suddenly and without warning, and Sherry Shirley knew something wasn’t right. A visit to her doctor in June 2013 prompted a recommendation for a CT scan to determine why she had lost all feeling on the left side of her face. Initially, Sherry’s doctor thought the symptoms might be sinus related or Bell’s palsy, a form of facial paralysis, but she wasn’t exhibiting the drooping face that is commonly associated with the disorder.
|Using the Brain Suite™ Intraoperative MRI, Dr. Lynn Fitzgerald was able to remove 80 percent of Sherry Shirley’s tumor.
The 39-year-old mother of four was ready to undergo a CT scan, but upon arrival at her appointment she learned that she would have to pay for the procedure up front. This was a cost she was unprepared to incur at the time. Instead of the much-needed scan, Sherry went out to her car to cry before heading home and going to bed.
The next morning, she awoke feeling off-balance and not quite right. A call from one of her daughters ended with the two women heading to the local hospital’s emergency room. There, a CT scan of her head turned up a spot but the hospital’s diagnostic resources were limited. Sherry was then transported to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas — at her request.
“I didn’t even have to think about it,” Sherry said. “I knew I wanted to be at Texas Health Dallas. I delivered my last two children there and had visited sick friends and family members there in the past. I had never felt so blessed as when I was inside that hospital.”
At Texas Health Dallas, an interdisciplinary approach is taken to the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders through the hospital’s highly regarded Neuroscience Program. An MRI was performed on Sherry and she received a clear-cut diagnosis from a team of neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists and neuropsychologists on the medical staff, working together on her behalf.
Sherry doesn’t remember much about the delivery of her brain tumor diagnosis, but she remembers very clearly the introduction she had to Dr. Lynn Fitzgerald. As a neurosurgeon specializing in the treatment of brain tumors, Fitzgerald was called in to perform the delicate surgery that Sherry would need.
“She introduced herself to me as the surgeon who was going to remove the orange-sized tumor in my head,” Sherry recalled. “Then she asked if she could pray with me, as she said she always liked to do before surgery. From that moment on, I had a feeling of comfort and peace come over me like I had never experienced before. I knew I was going to be okay.”
Using the Brain Suite™ Intraoperative MRI, some of the most advanced operating room (OR) imaging technology available, Fitzgerald was able to remove 80 percent of Sherry’s tumor. The powerful tool offered at Texas Health Dallas allowed the neurosurgeon to view 3-D images of the difference between Sherry’s healthy and diseased brain right in the OR — to remove what was safely possible.
Today, Sherry is monitored by Fitzgerald for any changes and periodic MRIs will be performed. She is recovering well and enjoying a new lease on life.
Brett Curry didn’t think it was strange when he started experiencing persistent back, shoulder and neck pains. At 49, he knew a lifetime of grueling work as a cabinet maker would eventually catch up to him.
|Just a few months after his surgery for a cervical spinal cord compression, Brett Curry had a full range of motion and returned to work.
But then a few weeks went by and pain led to symptoms like not being able to lift his arms above his head and not being able to button his shirt. A few more weeks went by and he began having difficulty speaking and walking.
On a Sunday afternoon, Brett and his wife Lisa had their three grown children over. They were all comparing their signatures when Lisa noticed her husband was unable to sign his own name.
“Individually we could explain away the symptoms,” Lisa said. “In total, we realized there was a problem.”
Lisa accompanied Brett to the family’s doctor, who referred Brett to Duc Tran, M.D., a neurologist with Neurology Consultants of Dallas, P.A., and on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas when he saw the scope of his symptoms.
“I guess I shrugged off most of my symptoms for so long because my dad taught me how to be tough,” Brett said.
Brett was put through a series of motor skills tests and had an MRI performed.
After suffering with symptoms that confused and frustrated Brett for the last 10 weeks, Tran made a quick and revelatory diagnosis: he had a cervical spinal cord compression. The compression was preventing his brain from exchanging messages with the body, causing partial paralysis.
Surgery was required and carried out by Michael Desaloms, M.D., a neurosurgeon with Dallas Neurological & Spine and on the medical staff at Texas Health Dallas.
Desaloms performed a cervical spine decompression and reconstruction on Brett. He removed two discs and bone spurs on the spinal cord and then performed a bone graft and replaced the discs with artificial spacers held in place by a titanium plate.
The difficult surgery took two hours and was successful, but Desaloms prepared Lisa for the likelihood that Brett’s recovery might take months and his stay in the hospital may be lengthy.
To her surprise, Brett lifted his arms over his head like he was signaling a touchdown when she came to see him in post-op. He hadn’t performed this simple movement in weeks.
“It was pretty miraculous, it really was,” Lisa said.
Just as miraculous, was Brett being discharged the next day after Desaloms saw that all of his motor skills had returned.
“He was remarkably better,” Desaloms said. “He had a dramatic recovery. It was very gratifying.”
“In my opinion, Dr. Desaloms is a genius,” Brett said.
Just a few months after his surgery, Brett was back to work, performing office work and serving as a courier. He has completed 12 sessions of physical therapy to help him regain the strength he lost and has begun another four-week physical therapy regiment, lifting weights and riding a stationary bike.
“I’ve never been taken better care of than I was at Texas Health,” Brett said. “And it’s a good thing since I couldn’t take care of myself.”