L4-5 Activ-L

Munich - December 2006 - Dr. Zeegers

Those of you who attended to the GPN Patient Seminar with Dr. Zeegers in November 2006 may remember Alica. For some reason, we feel much worse for someone so young. At only 26 and in such horrible pain for so many years, Alicia's life had been reduced to a 'worst of the worst' type of workmen's comp horror story. Injured on the job more than 5 years ago, her WC medical team seemed to ignore the pathology while they ramped her up to very high doses of medication that left her barely functional. When things had progressed to the point where they could no longer recommend against surgery, they denied surgery because of the high medication levels that they had put her on! Alicia and her family decided that system had failed her and they must take the situation into their own hands. The system would be of little value if it didn't provide access to quality medical care, or if Alicia was not alive to use it..

Alicia's father contacted GPN in early November, 2006. Her case was presented to Dr. Zeegers, but with all the confusing WC issues and only email and telephone contact, it was difficult to know which path to take. Fortunately, Dr. Zeegers came to California for a GPN seminar on November 19th. What an opportunity for Alicia! She was able to meet Dr. Zeegers, Mark and many patients going through the same type of ordeal. She was able to meet successful (and less than successful) patients who've had all types of spine surgeries with surgeons all over the US and at many centers in Europe. She flew in to Southern California just for the day of Zeegers' seminar. After returning home and discussing it with her family, she was very comfortable with the decision to go to Munich for surgery with Zeegers and to use Mark as her advocate there.

Alicias ordeal in Munich was quite difficult and they asked Mark to extend his trip to help out for a few extra days. Thankfully, everything looks great and Alicia has a wonderful chance for a new life after many years of being functionally disabled and in severe pain 24/7.

The day before surgery, Alica and David consulting with Dr. Zeegers

In Munich, a pre-op trip for a CT scan brings you to beautiful places.

We also played hookey that afternoon to take in some local color. "Are you Elton John?" Apparently, David gets that everywhere he goes!

All surgeries are over... toasting a good day's work.

Most of the AlphaKlinik staff has been there for many years. Mark's surgery was over 4 years ago, but many of the people he sees when he goes to Munich remember him as a patient. "THANK YOU" from Mark, Alicia, and so many others. The facilities and staff at the AlphaKlinik are incredible!

L4-L5 Activ-L - Zeegers does wonderful work!

Up and around the day after surgery (with Dad's help!)

Alicia talks to her son on Mark's internet phone.

A short walk back to the hotel... Alicia is out of the hospital!
Alicia, David and Sandy

Just out of the hospital, we all breathe a sigh of relief and have a toast. Unfortunately, unlike most ADR patients, Alicia's using a wheelchair. Even so, we are pleased to be back in the hotel!

At the AlphaKlinik, Dr. Zeegers' patients always have surgery on Friday. Mark was originally scheduled to leave Munich on Wednesday, but extended his stay until Friday. "It's tough for me to leave while the patient is still struggling with post-op pain," said Mark. Staying a few extra days allowed me to see the beginning of Alicia's coming back to life. We got to go into Munich one evening and enjoy some sights and a little freedom for Alicia after being cooped up in a hospital and hotel. The Christmas Market in MarionPlatz was wonderful.

Munich sunset.

Palm trees and mission bells in Munich?

A Spanish fountain? Poppies and cacti in Munich in December?

Mark was able to get together with Alicia in San Juan Capistrano in late February, 2007. Alica is 11 weeks post-op and Mark says, "I can't believe how different she looks. I experienced this first hand and have seen it before, but there is such an incredible difference between the empty shell of a person at the end of their rope and someone that has returned to life. Taking no pain meds, she is often pain free. She still has some low back pain once in a while, but at very low levels compared to her life of severe pain for years before the surgery. She no longer lives in fear of a the cough or sneeze that will put her in bed for weeks.

"I can't wait to learn to surf" says Alicia. In the past, she was an avid snowboarder, but it's been years since she's been able to spend any time in the halfpipe. She says that she'll wait a few months before hitting the snow and the waves. Mark just sits back and smiles.

"It's wonderful to be talking about surfing and when we'll be snowboarding together, instead of about medications, discograms, and how our lives are impacted by our inability to work, pain, and depression." he says. "Getting together with clients to celebrate their success is absolutely the best part of what I do!"


Alicia... thank you for a wonderful day and thanks to you and your family for allowing me to participate in this incredible process!

All the best... Mark

email from Alicia's father, 2/25/07:

Dear Mark,

Thanks so much for the pictures of your day with Alicia. I look at them and I still can't believe the difference in her from just a few short weeks ago. You are thanking us for allowing you to participate in the process, but I want to take a few minutes and let you know how important your help was to us.

When I decided that we had to take things into our own control, away from Worker's Comp, my research led me to the same 2 names over and over -- Dr Zeegers and Dr. Bertagnoli -- but there where so many questions, and the logistics of launching a dialogue with them from California seemed daunting. Another name that kept coming up in my research was yours. When I contacted you I had a rather immediate sense that you could be the vital link we needed. As it turns out, you were that, and so much more. Your experience and understanding of the issues we face and the options we have were invaluable to us as we made our way through the process. I'm not just talking about the spine issues, but also the problems with depression, medication issues, etc. Your ability to help us go from initial contact to evaluation complete and surgery scheduled in a few short weeks was amazing.

In Germany, at times the stresses of the situation seemed overwhelming. Your calm support through the process really held us together and helped us get to through it. It always seemed that you knew what was going to happen before it happened. You always knew the next challenge we would face and many times your input kept us on the right track. Several times when I came to you with an issue, you had already had a back-channel discussion with the doctors and already had things solved.

When I asked you to stay a few extra days, I could tell by the look on your face that you were at the end of a long and exhausting trip and wanted to get home. Thank you for staying! Those extra few days really made a difference.

Having you in our corner through this was so important to us. I truly believe that things would have gone very differently had you not been there and I will be forever grateful for all you have done for me and my family. As you described on Alicia's story page, she's gone from that empty shell to someone with a new beginning and a new chance at life. You have a very big part in that and without your help, I know that she'd still be suffering now. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!