Over a year, a decade or the lifetime of a doctor, lives are touched. When a neurosurgeon, such as Dr. Beer, enters the life of a patient, dramatic changes will occur. Surgery can lessen or eliminate pain, remove life-threatening tumors or blockages, or repair the damage a car accident created.
When your life changes, a simple "Thank You" doesn't seem to be enough. But the words do mean a great deal to these professionals whose goal is to eliminate pain and restore a person's quality of lie.
Read how these patients tried to express how they felt after being treated by ...
|Shari / Melissa Anderson|
|Kaylinna Marie Bazal|
I became a patient of Dr. Steven Beer when I fell in a pot hole in the parking lot at work and ended up messing up my back. I have seen many different spine doctors for this back injury and no one wanted to fight with Worker's Compensation and my insurance company for my situation like Dr. Beer did. (read more)
When I saw Dr. Beer for the very first time, he stated that we were going to try an injection as a treatment for my back pain. If I received no pain relief from this injection then the next step to fix me was going to be surgery. My back was pretty messed up that it was going to take Dr. Beer fixing it from both the front and back side of my spine! Dr. Beer had me scheduled for an Anterior/Posterior L5-S1 Lumbar Fusion. I was having issues with my insurance company and Worker's Comp getting my necessary surgery authorized because of my young age. It wasn't until the very moment I was to get wheeled back into the OR suite that Dr. Beer finally got my surgery authorized. I was in the pre-op room of the hospital and I can distinctly remember Dr. Beer and Andy dancing around my room when my surgery was approved over the phone at the last minute! Dr. Beer was very worried about me because I was starting to have severe complications with other areas of my body as a result of my back injury and he was worried about it these complications becoming permanent. Dr. Beer said this surgery was going to save some of my vital organs, such as my bladder. That is when I didn't care about anything else but keeping my organs. Heck, I am only 20 years old.
Dr. Beer finally walked in my room and told me at 5:00pm on the 29th of November 2011 that I was going in for surgery...finally. After I got released from the hospital, I was doing so well that I got to go home in a few days! Then I got hives all over my body from my head all the way to my toes!! I was so scared!! I was nervous about the hives and because it was Christmas Eve, and I was even more worried to bother Dr. Beer about it. Well, I waited it out until Christmas morning and that is when I started freaking out really badly because the hives weren’t just on my stomach, but in my hair, all over my hands and my face and that I didn’t even recognize myself in the mirror. So I finally decided to call Dr. Beer (on Christmas!!) and I told him what was happening and do you know what he did? He left the hospital to come to my house with his nurse Terra, for a HOUSE CALL!!! I was in SHOCK! I knew as soon as Dr. Beer and Terra came over that I knew I had the best back doctor in the world! Luckily, the rash and hives was a result from one of the medications I was on after surgery. Whew! But the thing that I thought was pretty cool and special was the fact that Dr. Beer cared enough for me to risk everything to do the surgery in the first place, but then to come to my house on the Christmas holiday for a house call when he could have been spending this hour at my house with his family. And I know that he cares about each one of his patients and treats them like he did me. He will do anything for each of you. I have never had the best doctor until I came to see Dr. Beer! Thank you Dr. Steven Beer.
Kaylinna Marie Bazal(close read more)
|The Tim Malm Story|
A Medical Miracle: Tim Malm’s Recovery
Lasso or Noose
Calf ropers are rodeo contestants who compete to see who can lasso a calf and tie it up in the least amount of time and usually within only seconds. On June 6, 2010, Tim Malm, a strapping young man found out that seconds can change a life.
Although I wasn’t at the event, I feel as though I could have been. We watched the video over and over to try to see what exactly had happened. On that day, after Tim was delivered to the hospital by ambulance in a deep state of coma, the degree of injuries identified on his cat scan made no sense. I explained that to his parents in disbelief as I prepared to mentally prep them for what I figured would be the loss of their child. Boy... was I wrong.(read more)
As a neurosurgeon, I am the unfortunate medical recipient of some of the worst neurologic problems imaginable. On the day Tim arrived, he was intubated and mechanically ventilated and in terrible shape. The trauma surgeon checked him from head to toe then smiled as she handed him off to me saying, “he’s all yours.” She could essentially find no serious injuries aside from a punctured lung, which usually heals after a tube is left in the chest for several days. Typically in the business of medicine, none of us “providers” relish trauma. In cases like Tim’s, often the injuries are so bad it just doesn’t matter what we do to intervene; mother nature gets her way and nature takes its course. Tim’s case made no sense. His head CT (cat scan) looked like a hand grenade had deployed between his ears. Literally every important deep brain structure appeared to have been injured with evidence of hemorrhage throughout. In my mind, mother nature would likely win and without thinking twice I prepared to share my nauseating assessment with his parents.
Not knowing his parents well, I started my discussion gently explaining how different parts of the brain are responsible for different things, emphasizing on how some parts are much more important than others. We then looked at the cat scan together, I explained how all of the important parts had been seriously injured by whatever had happened to Tim. I spent probably minutes which felt like hours trying to explain quite simply that I did not think Tim had any chance of survival. Telling parents they have likely lost a child is perhaps the worst thing I ever have to do and on this day it was no different. I took the time to carefully explain what Tim was up against really expecting his parents would be overwhelmed by what I had to say, but also realistic. I felt they would likely limit the lengths we would go to in order to keep this young man alive on life support. In this case the young man was clearly in excellent shape and if we wanted to we could keep him alive for years on life support which may sometimes be the worst thing we could do as medical providers.
Well I thought I had done good job of educating his parents how bad the situation was as I had literally convinced myself there was nothing I could do or should do for an injury that was that severe. I could almost hear my chairman, the guy that trained me how to do neurosurgery and his frequent voice of reason in my head saying over and over again how I would someday understand my limits as a healer like this case was something he planned out for my future. This case was undoubtedly one he would have called unsurvivable. At that point in the discussion, I realized his parents had not really heard the true meaning of a word I had said and probably couldn’t understand how bad the injury was let alone accept what I was trying to tell them. And somehow by the grace of God, their inability to accept what I was saying and Tim’s amazing will to live ended up being the difference between life and death.
Tim’s mother, Dixie, is without a doubt one of the most driven people I have ever known. At the time I was trying to say there was no hope, she showed me over and over the video of what had occurred. At some point during all of that discussion I guess the voice in my head became overwhelmed by Dixie and Tim’s father Howard’s insistence this was not happening, this was a nightmare and they would not accept anything short of we have to give it our all. At first I had not even considered moving forward with any treatment, then it occurred to me perhaps the injuries we saw on the cat scan occurred because of pressure. You see, typically hemorrhage in the brainstem, thalamus and deep structures usually occur as a result of rapid acceleration-deceleration events such as what occurs during a high speed motor vehicle accident. In those cases patients almost universally do poorly and few survive. In this case as many times as I watched the horse get jerked down by the rope and Tim fall off on the ground, I did not see what I had expected. There was really no significant whip lash and certainly not to the extent which would have been necessary to cause the damage seen. It was probable pressure. Against the voice in my head, against my gut feeling and also exactly what Tim’s folks wanted me to say, I said we have to do something. To this day that remains one of the hardest decisions I’ve been faced with and clearly one of the best decisions I have ever made against my better judgement.
As though a five alarm fire had sounded and I was fireman, we rushed Tim to the operating room to place a ventriculostomy. A ventriculostomy is a small tube that we place in the fluid cavities of the brain to release or drain the fluid produced by the brain and to also measure pressure. At the time, placing these “drains” had become the best new treatment concept for brain injuries. In retrospect, and at the time, it made sense that Tim was likely going to develop increasing pressure inside of his head as a result of whatever happened when his trusty companion was jerked onto his side and Tim’s left leg and foot still in the stirrup and right back up after he had roped that steer. Clearly if we were “all in” in our efforts there was no question I had to place the drain. What I feared when we got to the instant I was about to pass the tube was the fact the fluid cavities were tiny and hitting the ventricle would take a miracle. As the story goes, the tube went right in on the first try.
The Waiting Game
Dixie looked at me almost everyday with a look only a mother could master as almost to say, “Why are we not seeing results, what is taking so long?” Howard, in turn, held tightly to a look of concern but followed Dixie’s lead and listened carefully to every question she had. As parents go, they were there every second and involved in Tim’s care completely. They were great. I remember one of the days I came to the ICU to check on Tim when I could not find his parents. I thought something terrible must have happened since they were not there. I guess parents have to eat too since I dis- covered they were actually in the cafeteria. Days turned into a couple of weeks and I began to wonder if our decision to proceed with the “full court press” was the right decision. I had to keep Tim sedated with high doses of potent medicine to keep the pressure down and we had to keep the drain in much longer than usual. In spite of this, the intracranial pressure or pressure inside his head continued to be labile. After I almost had given up, the pressure decreased and I was slowly able to wean the drain by elevating the level of the drain carefully. I was finally able to clamp the drain and monitor the pressure. When the pressured stayed within an acceptable range, I was able to safely remove the drain.
Tim remained in a coma further compounded by all the medicine I had to give him and he just was not improving at all. I had convinced myself that in spite of the effort, it probably wouldn’t make a difference. Mom on the other hand would have no part of that. She without wavering looked through me as though she could predict the future expecting Tim would survive. Literally every little wiggle had meaning to her whereas I thought his movements were classic for someone who would remain in a vegetative state forever. Nearly 10 days after he had arrived in my care, Tim started to prove me wrong against all of the odds but quite consistent with what mom knew would happen. Tim started to initially make movements which made sense or “purposeful movements”. Although his pupils would not react to light, first his leg then an arm seemed to wake up. We had placed a tracheostomy so that it would be easier to clear out his lungs while he was being ventilated as well as a feeding tube to keep him well nourished and the time had come for me to discharge Tim to rehab. I had no idea if and when I would see Tim again, but it was time to send him off. I remember that call I had to make in which I had to explain to some doctor I had never met before why I had chosen to treat what on the surface seemed to make no sense whatsoever. That voice in my head kept saying, “see I told you so,” but I had to make the call. Expecting the worst, refusal by the rehab facility and being left with less than desirable nursing home care, I made the call and painted a realistic and only cautiously optimistic picture of Tim’s injury and current condition. Almost as rapidly as he showed up and to my surprise, Tim was accepted and off to rehab.
Follow-up: An Unbelievably Happy Day
Almost a year after those near fatal seconds, Tim showed up at my office with Dixie grinning ear to ear. Howard even cracked a smile, concerned, but a smile. Time was awake! His speech was tricky to understand but his comprehension was spot on. He had left sided weakness, his pupils still didn’t work right, but he was able to say, “Thank you Doctor Beer.” I was in shock and even in tears. Finally that voice inside my head couldn’t say a word. Dixie, on the other hand, just smiled. I think I heard the voice in her head as they left that day say, “Come on Tim, we have work to do, that left side is our next project.” I understand Tim is walking with assistance today and spoke recently at a local rodeo.
I am forever changed as I hope you will be too by miracles like Tim and his family. After all, they are, “one in a million” and I am proud to have been able to have helped them in their time of need. I will tell you, however, my effort pales in comparison to Tim’s will to live and the timeless support of his family.
God speed Tim Malm...I hope someday I will have the opportunity as much as I hope I will never see another injury as bad as yours to care for another amazing patient like you.Steven Beer, MD, FAANS
(close read more)