Grateful for every step

April 1, 2016

By Alex Branch

PATRICK-MAY-WEB

 

Patrick May told his fiancé good night, walked down the hallway to his bedroom and fell soundly asleep.

Hours later, he startled awake.

“My legs wouldn’t move,” said May, 65. “From my waist down, I was paralyzed. I thought I was dying – or at least about to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.”

Douglas Dickson, MD

Douglas Dickson, MD

May avoided that fate, thanks to dedicated care and an eight-hour emergency surgery performed by Douglas Dickson, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and Assistant Professor at UNT Health Science Center.

Judy Stewart, May’s fiancé, heard his shouts for help that night in January 2015 and dialed 911, then rode in the ambulance with him to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. An MRI of May’s spinal cord gave Dr. Dickson the information he needed to understand what was happening. The surgeon joined Stewart in a prayer and prepared for surgery.

A few months earlier, May had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. The cancer had caused a lesion to occupy about 60 percent of his spinal canal, compressing his spine and causing May’s paralysis.

Dr. Dickson made an incision in May’s back and decompressed his spinal cord by cutting some of the bony covering of the spinal canal. Using a microscope, he removed the growth from the paper thin membrane covering the spinal cord known as the dura.

“This was the meticulous part, because you have to keep the dura intact,” Dr. Dickson said. “When you are decompressing the spine on an already compromised spinal cord, you need to be absolutely careful because you can cause more damage.”

Once the growth was removed, Dr. Dickson inserted two rods, 16 screws and two cross connectors to support May’s spine. Then he went to the waiting room and told Stewart the operation was successful.

Months of physical therapy followed, and recovery was slow. But in his Mansfield home, May moves with help from a walker.

Recently, he proudly stood raised the walker off the ground to prove he can support his own weight. Every step he takes, he said, makes him more grateful for Dr. Dickson.

“Will I walk again?” May repeated, grinning at Stewart. “We’re going to dance!”

Liu Fc
PT on leading edge of Parkinson’s care

By Alex Branch   A UNT Health Science Center professor is preparing physical students to provide innovative care that can improve the quality of life for the nearly 1 million Americans expected to have Parkinson’s disease by 2020. Howe Liu, PT, PhD, Professor of Physical Therapy, pa...Read more

Sep 17, 2018

Abe Fc
A prestigious glaucoma prize, again, for UNTHSC eye researchers

By Jan Jarvis   In 1998, a team of researchers that included Abe Clark, PhD, won worldwide recognition for its discovery of the first gene that causes glaucoma. Two decades later, the same team has found a possible treatment for this blinding eye disease. “We’ve gone from discov...Read more

Sep 13, 2018

Prof Fc
UNT System honors scientist who conducts drug studies

By Jan Jarvis   One drug treats hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia. Another treats complicated intra-abdominal infections. And a third treats skin infections. These are among the many drugs that Jerry Simecka, PhD, has evaluated as part of the discovery process since establishing th...Read more

Sep 12, 2018

Lena Fc
Fort Worth leaders praise new Early Learning Center at UNTHSC

By Alex Branch   Community leaders are hailing the opening of the Miles Foundation Early Learning Center, a partnership between UNT Health Science Center and Lena Pope, as a major step for high-quality, early childhood development in Fort Worth. Mayor Betsy Price, Tarrant County Judge ...Read more

Sep 11, 2018