Contractor/carpenter gets new lease on life with UNT Health treatment

November 4, 2013

Lance Thornhill and Ryan Seals, DO

Lance Thornhill woke up the day after Halloween 2012 and immediately called his wife, Trudee, visiting her mother in Kansas. "You’d better come home."

When she heard what he had to say, she hurried back. He couldn’t move his right leg.

He describes the next few months, before he met Ryan Seals, DO, Assistant Professor of Osteopathic Medicine at UNT Health Science Center, as "pretty pathetic."

Thornhill, 61, a general contractor and carpenter, was a very active man. He spent years as a safety inspector for North Richland Hills, hardscaped his backyard with a gazebo and waterfalls, and enlarged his house to move his mother in. Now, he barely could limp around because of foot drop, which makes it hard or impossible to lift the front part of the foot.

When he tried to sleep at night, the pain was so bad, "my wife held me while I bawled." 

Trudee Thornhill, who serves on the Tarrant Appraisal District Review Board, took her husband to his primary care provider and a neurologist. They arrived at various incorrect diagnoses, "all fatal," she said, including spinal tumors.

Said Thornhill, "Two weeks before Christmas 2012, they told me it was Lou Gehrig’s disease. On the Friday before Christmas, the neurologist said no, you just have arthritis, you will have to live with it — put a brace on that leg and drag it around."

“Everyone at UNT Health cares about the patient — nurses and receptionist included. And the doctor actually listens to you.”

–Lance Thornhill

Then he met Seals, who practices osteopathic manipulative medicine at UNT Health’s Patient Care Center on the UNTHSC campus. After two treatments, Thornhill was moving almost normally, and now he’s walking for exercise.

"The first doctor in this whole sorry mess to really care was Dr. Seals," Thornhill said. "He got me functional and back in the race as a human being."

Seals treats him every three weeks. What caused the foot drop remains a mystery. "I’m pleased that he’s making progress," Seals said. "The dropped foot has resolved, and now we’re working on back pain and sensory issues."

Nearly a year after Lance woke up with a useless leg, his wife fetched her mother from Kansas for a 90th birthday cookout with 17 guests. Thornhill set up tables, grilled food and shepherded children. "A beautiful day," Trudee Thornhill said. 

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