Now that the arrogant North Carolina’s medical board has removed Dr. Rosner's license to practice in North Carolina, taking a critical care provider away from patients in North Carolina and around the country, it is time to tell the whole story of what led me to Dr. Rosner’s office in Hendersonville before the North Carolina Medical Board shut his door.
I think others need to know this story, so I have posted this on the Web along with the introductory letter to Governor Perdue that you can view of my asking her to investigate the North Carolina Medical Board's decision and renew Dr. Rosner's license to practice in the state. And don’t forget Dr. Rosner's patients’ testimonies at Reinstate Rosner on the Web.
First of all, no physician ever recommended me to Dr. Rosner. That is because the three specialists assigned to me had walked away many months before, two believing my condition had a mental component. Those were the same exact words told to the roofer mentioned in the attached testimony and the letter of introduction, who gave me Dr. Rosner’s name. He also had a similar experience with one of the physicians I had visited, and that doctor turning away from both of us.
Yet later Dr. Rosner would save both our lives. The roofer would be able to live with his three young children while I would continue life with my wife in WNC and my four adult children.
Unlike me, the roofer needed two surgeries by Dr. Rosner. The first would enable him to be normal enough that his violent shaking would stop and he could drive again. While he couldn’t work at the labor-intensive job, one he had always known in his relatively young life, he would at least have a better chance of seeing his three young children grow up.
I, on the other hand, was 66-years old when three specialists terminated my care and walked away while my condition was still growing worse.
My journey with a developing strange medical condition began for me when I started to have severe breathing problems in the fall of the second year we were in North Carolina. Without warning, I was suddenly unable to finish mowing the lawn, stopping to sit or fall down from episodes where I couldn’t get my breath, always suddenly weak after as if my internal batteries had been drained. The episodes were sometimes so violent a neighbor saw me during one and wanted to call an ambulance.
My primary physician, thinking it might be a blockage in my heart, directed me to an Asheville cardiologist who arranged a stress test. The office never bothered to call back. Finally, I called, and an assistant said the test was negative and my heart looked great.
But the breathing symptoms persisted. I had to stop even more times to catch my breath while walking behind the power mower. We finally had to buy a used ride-on mower from a neighbor to cut down on my weekly walking behind the mower. Our lawn has hilly areas, so a walk-behind power mower was still needed in spots. I eventually couldn’t even finish that job, one time pushing myself to the point I threw up on the front lawn in front of passing traffic.
Before I would get a dry mouth feeling, I would notice the sensation of hundreds of needles pushing into the skin on my chest. I was also experiencing bubbling sensations in my chest. And when I tried to do other chores around the house, I found myself growing tired within a few minutes and again trying to catch my breath. This occurred even while emptying the weekly garbage around the house.
When walking up our basement stairs, I always felt as if I had a shadow following me. As I would get to the top level and walking into the kitchen area, I would suddenly feel as if something had overtaken my lungs and I would gasp to catch my breath. Because of that, I tried to limit my need to climb the stairs during the day, knowing what was to follow. I addition at night I would sometimes wake up gasping for air.
This all came to a head the following spring when my wife was on a business trip. I had ridden the ride-on mower and taken some brush down a hill behind our yard, towing a light, plastic yard wagon on wheels. I dumped the container and started to walk back as the sun was setting. Suddenly I couldn’t breathe if I moved my legs. I almost was in panic, wondering what was wrong. For the first time ever I was unable to walk any distance. And there was the reality that bears frequented the area.
I discovered if I would walk a few steps at a time, resting after each tree as an accomplishment marker, I could then sit on the yard cart for a few minutes to catch my breath.
It was nearly dark when I finally reached the edge of our lawn where I thought I was going to throw up. I laid on my back for what seemed like a half an hour. I then crawled the rest of the way to the steps at the back of the house and dragged myself inside the door and into the bedroom.
My wife, who had been worried about leaving me alone while away on business, couldn’t reach me on the phone that afternoon and evening until I was finally in bed.
About a month later I woke up in the early morning with my chest filled with the bubble feeling and my skin clammy, looking like chalk. In spite of having slept, I was exhausted. Our family medical center thought I was having a heart attack and called an ambulance to take me to Mission Hospital.
The heart specialist I’d previously seen ran tests including one to verify that all my arteries were open. I told him about the bubbly sensation and the feeling of pins on my chest, but he had no idea what they were. And a nurse awakened me one night, saying my heart had dropped to 35 beats per minute, asking if I was all right. I felt fine. I didn’t think about it again until a year later.
On my release from the hospital, I asked the cardiologist’s associate if I might need a pacemaker. She said, “You don’t want one.” I said okay and checked out.
It had not crossed my mind at the time that political correctness might be directing the doctor’s decision to not recommend the expense of a pacemaker for someone past 60. It’s eerily familiar to me now with president Obama’s recent comment about the elderly having medical problems, which went something like . . . take pain pills and then let your doctor advise you how to die.
The cardiologist ordered no other tests outside of those that had been completed. No MRI of my neck was ordered. I was never invited back for further check ups on my 35-bpm heart rate.
The cardiologist then released me to an Asheville pulmonary specialist. This physician did many breathing tests and then later arranged a biopsy of my lungs but couldn’t find any disease. He also ordered an imaging of my chest and stomach for any abnormalities that might cause the breathing problem. Results were negative.
His final comment in the last few visits was that my problem might have a mental component to it, but said he would give his right arm that it wasn’t. I wasn’t sure what that meant but figured he thought the breathing problem was all in my head. I mean, why else would he say that?
No MRI on my neck was ordered. The pulmonary specialist then released me without inviting me back for later check-up visits, referring me instead to my third doctor, a neuromuscular physician.
The neuromuscular specialist was very blunt. He immediately told me the pulmonary specialist thought I might have ALS, which I had not been told. A blood test for the disease came back negative.
He then did some very uncomfortable tests with electric current probes that jerked my neck instantly a dozen times when he applied current to them, making my neck sore. The doctor said he didn’t think I needed a brain scan and ordered instead a muscle biopsy. He said I could go to Duke or stay in Asheville. I elected to have it done at Mission Hospital, which seemed to please him.
When I went for the results of my biopsy, the specialist said I was having normal muscle atrophy for my age and he saw no symptoms of an oncoming muscle disease. He also mentioned my problem seemed to have a mental component to it.
He never invited me back for check-ups except to say, “Come back if you feel worse.”
“How much worse could you possibly feel,” my wife asked. I was released. No MRI of my neck was ordered.
And that was the end of all my visits for the three Asheville specialists. There were no follow-ups of any kind--ever.
I then returned to my primary physician, who had stood by me the entire time. I asked if he would send me to the University of North Carolina, as my breathing kept becoming more and more labored. It had been nearly a year since I started this journey, resulting in nothing but comments that it was all in my head. I got copies of my records from all three Asheville specialists and took them to a pulmonary specialist at UNC at Chapel Hill.
The doctor there ran several tests over the next five months. In a very painful one, a needle was inserted into a vein in my arm as I road a bicycle to check for bubbles in my blood stream. The test came back negative.
However, a nuclear test, which injected a fluid that could be picked up by a huge rotating magnet, was ordered to check my lung muscles. The results revealed that the muscles around my lungs were growing weak, but the UNC doctor did not understand why.
He finally ordered a sleep apnea test at UNC’s Chapel Hill, for which I experienced several episodes. He released me to an apnea representative, feeling the problem was solved. No MRI of my neck was ordered.
I used the breathing machine for several weeks. But nothing changed in my daily labored breathing problem, which was growing worse with any physical activity including climbing stairs as previously mentioned. I would now throw-up more easily if I pushed myself past even five minutes or so.
That resulted in leading me to attempt nothing that would strain me. In the meantime, a microwave oven sat in the garage because I didn’t have the energy to even lift the unit, although I had done home improvement all my life with ease.
I still had no relief from the sleep-apnea device, resulting in doing almost no work around the house. My wife mowed the lawn and did the outside work. Even cutting a roast with an electric knife affected my breathing and made my arm hurt!
With no place else to turn, I was at my wits end. My primary physician had done his best to seek medical help for me, but now all hope seemed lost. I had given up, realizing I would simply go downhill. That was until I discovered a leak in our skylight and called my roofer friend.
He’d previously had a problem that made his entire body shake so violently he couldn’t drive. He had seen 13 doctors who couldn’t help him. A neuromuscular surgeon in Hendersonville finally identified his problem. He’d had the first of two scheduled surgeries that enable him to eventually live close to normal and able to drive again.
He urged me to see Dr. Rosner knowing I felt I was at the end of my rope. So I made an appointment in February 2007. My wife went along.
Dr. Rosner gave me a two-hour physical examination. Afterwards he said I was a neurologist’s wonderland. I had a problem walking in a straight line with heel to toe. I couldn’t squat. I had lost feeling in my right leg. He then asked, “Bring me the MRI film of your neck.”
When I told him none of four specialists had ordered one, he shook his head and said, “I usually get the rejects.” He told us the spinal cord, when compressed, can cause the symptoms I was experiencing. The phrenic nerves that enervate the lungs’ breathing process originate near the top of the spinal column. With compression, he reported the lungs couldn’t function well
After ordering a MRI of my neck, my wife and I went to his office to view the film. I immediately noticed that an image of the spinal column in my neck was pitch black right above my shoulders while the area above and below revealed light. I said, “What’s this?”
Dr. Rosner said “that” was my problem. Bone and calcium deposits were growing in on my spinal cord so the normal distance between the two had been halved. The film included a spur that Dr. Rosner said could kill me in an automobile accident if my head were to snap. I then remembered the electric current tests from the first neurologist that repeatedly snapped my neck.
He said he could set up the surgery in a few weeks, and that the recuperation would be painful. But in his opinion, if I did nothing the problem was only going to grow worse and that I could eventually die. But he warned damage could have already been done to the spinal cord, and that while he thought I could get most of what I lost back, I would never get it all. My wife had tears in her eyes, relieved someone finally cared enough to try to save my life, telling us honestly what to expect.
Within three weeks I was on the operating table, not at the Mission Hospital, but at the Christian-sponsored Park Ridge Hospital in Hendersonville. Upon my first visit after the surgery, Dr. Rosner said he could barely get the drill in to remove the bone, and that if I had waited another year, he might not have been able to complete the operation at all.
The pain in my back muscle was almost unbearable during the first few weeks after the surgery, but as the months went by, I was able to start moving around picking up things like a bowl of soup that I couldn’t hold earlier.
Eight months later, I installed the microwave oven after its almost year-long residence in our garage. I knew life had changed for me when I pressed the start button and the microwave came to life.
When March of the following year arrived, the one-year anniversary of my surgery, Dr. Rosner had ordered a tilt-table test. It would be the second time he would save my life, along with the assistance of a dedicated cardiologist, Dr. Bailey, whom I had never met before.
As I lay on the tilt table connected with wires, the assistant kept asking me if I felt okay. I was fine. Then Dr. Bailey walked in and asked the same question. He asked if I felt dizzy. But I felt fine. He then echoed something in my life I had forgotten, but this time I was wide-awake to hear it.
He said my heart was doing 35 beats per minute and it seemed to want to stay there. He was concerned it had gone on without anyone checking for so long that my body had actually become used to the low beat. He said it could be dangerous because blood could pool in my organs, and if the rate dropped too low, I could die.
He ordered a monitor for me to wear--a different one from that ordered by the cardiologist in Asheville. This one came with a blackberry wireless cell phone. I was to wear the monitor for 21 days with the phone in my pocket by day and by the bed at night.
On the third day, the doctor called me at home and said he had been wakened by the blackberry’s monitoring service at 3 a.m., and I should see him immediately. My heart rate had dropped to 27 bpm in the night. If it dropped to 20, I might not wake up.
When he said I needed a pacemaker, I told him I didn’t want a foreign object in my body, remembering what the cardiologist in Asheville had said. Dr. Bailey said to my wife, “His condition has obviously gotten worse, and if he doesn’t get a pacemaker, he might not wake up one morning.”
That was the defining moment. My wife looked at me with tears in her eyes again. Three days later I had the pacemaker installed at Park Ridge Hospital as a walk-in patient.
At my first follow-up visit, I told Dr. Bailey I felt that I had a race car in my chest. He had set the rate at 70 bpm, with 60 being normal. But then he set it to 50, a safe beat I wouldn’t notice so much after having such a low beat for so long a time.
Suddenly I realized I wasn’t waking up gasping for air anymore. With getting a better night’s sleep, having my strength return, and the bubbling in my chest gone since the first operation, I had the best of all worlds now at 67-years old.
I had been looking for bids to build a Hi-Def entertainment room in my basement. I had worked in the electronics industry for two decades at Zenith and Panasonic headquarters, and in retirement I had wanted a decent AV system in my home.
But the bids were expensive, and I didn’t have that kind of money to toss at the project. So feeling much better, I went to Lowe’s Home Improvement and purchased the needed materials, including the cost for a carpenter friend to put up the studs.
I purchased some tools at Harbor Freight, and my wife and I worked on the room for eight months. While I couldn’t put in long hours, I found working at a normal pace for about three to five hours at a time didn’t bother me. And I was happy to be productive again
The photo below shows the room we were able to complete after Dr. Rosner gave me back my life.
Thanks again to doctors Rosner and Bailey, who gave this senior citizen real healthcare and not the kind where a panel of doctors walks away and then later helps you to die from a medical condition they couldn’t solve.