The Story of Mike
Traveling Across the Country to UCLA to Find the Right Doctor
I was diagnosed with a rare spinal cord condition at the age of 31. I live in Columbus, Ohio, but was encouraged to find the best medical center for treatment. I began traveling around the country from hospital to hospital (including the Mayo Clinic, Mass General, the Cleveland Clinic, Cedars Sinai...) to see doctor after doctor in hopes of finding a treatment for my condition. While I was able to go to many of the most prestigious hospitals in the country, I found that the doctors I saw all had different opinions about my treatment plan. The treatment recommendations varied widely, but the appointments were similar in that they involved a rushed doctor entering the room to review my charts and films and then making a recommendation. I didn't know where to turn, but finally tried surgeries that did not stop the progression of my symptoms.
As the symptoms from my neurological condition continued to progress, I began reading medical research articles in journals published for professional physicians. Although I do not have a medical background, my father and I were able to piece together bits and pieces of the research that was included in the articles. My research led me to a publication by Dr. Ulrich Batzdorf at UCLA. This article was written in clear and understandable terms and described a treatment that I had never heard about.
After reading the research article by Dr. Batzdorf, I traveled across the country to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center to meet with him. I went with some trepidation because of all my other experiences seeing neurosurgeons and neurologists. However, since the first time I met him I immediately knew that he was different from the other doctors that I had seen. He spent hours with me going over my treatment options, answering all of my questions and explaining his treatment plan to me. His thorough and logical approach gave me hope. Through a unique surgical procedure Dr. Batzdorf and his colleague, Dr. Langston Holly, were able to stop the progression of my symptoms. In addition to their medical expertise, Dr. Batzdorf and Dr. Holly always treated me with respect and as a person with feelings instead of just one of many patients in a caseload. I still have some nerve damage due to the symptoms that had progressed while I was searching for the right doctor, but I feel very fortunate that my research led me to Dr. Batzdorf and to UCLA.