16 04 2008

Misdiagnosed Lake County man reclaims his life

By Elizabeth Wilson–Record-Bee staff

Article Last Updated: 04/14/2008

Record Bee.com


Cobb — Eric Patrick and his wife Laura walked through the secure, metal-and-glass doors in a museum-like beige building, a cavernous hospital many Lake County residents know as the place to go when an illness is serious enough to warrant specialists.

They sat with baited breath and butterflies as they awaited what they thought was Patrick’s ultimatum on life what to expect from his diagnosis of ALS last fall, also known as Lou Gehrig’s, a debilitating disease that usually robs a person of muscle movement and eventually of life.

But instead the doctors at UC San Francisco Medical Center handed Patrick good news: he had been misdiagnosed. Actually, Patrick has Dystonia, which doesn’t end in death. And the symptoms can be treated and usually subside.

Patrick watched a close friend of his die of Lou Gehrig’s just last year his band CAM (Cobb Area Musicians) performed a memorial service for Jim Matzinger.

“When I was diagnosed, the first thing I thought of was Jim, and I thought oh, you’ve got to be kidding,'” Patrick said.

The well-known disc jockey for KNTI began experiencing a sore jaw last September. Following on the heels of his father’s death last May, Patrick and his family had already been through a tough time by the time the misdiagnosis occurred in November.
After doctors at Sutter Lakeside Hospital discovered Patrick had a herniated disk in his neck, the pain worsened. Patrick, a graduate of Middletown High School, was an all-star quarterback in 1979. He covered Friday Night Game of the Week for the radio.

“We’re right there, live for three-and-a-half hours. I noticed at the end that my jaw would hurt really bad, and it was hard for me to pronounce words. I called the doctor Nov. 1 and said, something’s going on with my speech,'” Patrick said.

Then he visited Dr. Camille Keene, a Lakeport neurologist.

“After she examined me, she said it looks like a fasticulation of the muscle, which is a twitch She looked at Laura and me and said, we have some MRI’s to do, but it looks like you have ALS,'” Patrick said.

Patrick’s immediate reaction was just the beginning of several months trying to come to terms with a disease he didn’t have.

“Of course your heart stops I think people around me showed their emotion more than I did. I also didn’t really believe it, I felt too strong I didn’t feel that sick,” Patrick said.

Through the whole process, which included the community rallying to help Patrick with a RAKE (Random Acts of Kindness) fundraiser that earned $46,000 for Patrick to cover his medical expenses, he “didn’t let himself get scared.”

“I started feeling like I was able to get healthy, I was eating right, losing weight, living right,” Patrick said, who is now on an all-organic diet. Dystonia makes it difficult to eat, and talk.

Last Friday, Patrick went to movement specialist Dr. Graham Glass at UCSF Medical Center for an electromyography (EMG) test and to hear what the ALS plan would be.

The long, electrode needle inserted through his chin and tongue about seven times, and then into muscles from his toes to his shoulders, determined he did not have ALS.

“The rest of the body was OK. That’s when the doctor looked at me and said, I have good news for you. If these tests weren’t what they show here, I would tell you that you have ALS. But the rest of the body looks normal we’re going to rule out ALS.'”

After receiving a hug and a handshake from the doctor, Patrick sat in the examining room on the eighth floor, overlooking the Sunset District of San Francisco. “I thought, well that’s the best thing I’ve heard in my life,'” Patrick said, his voice catching.

Then he went to the waiting room to get his wife. “She looked at me, I gave her a thumbs up, and she jumped up and hugged me We went downstairs, and I called my sister and aunt. It was like the sun was shining again.”

Patrick plans to use money raised by RAKE last month for him to go to a Mayo Clinic in Arizona for additional treatment, “just to make sure.”

“I’m at the point where I want to dance and be happy that it’s just Dystonia, but I want to make sure before I do that dance.”

Contact Elizabeth Wilson at ewilson@record-bee.com




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