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Amanda Breem’s Journey with Hydrocephalus

Alexandra: Making Progress with Hydrocephalus

Lenn BrownLenn Brown was an active 13-year-old boy, enjoying life on the soccer field and the basketball court in his native Rockaway, New Jersey. It was during a soccer game, however, after a scramble with the goalkeeper and a subsequent fall, that the world suddenly “flip flopped”. According to Brown, “It looked like the ground was in the sky and the sky was on the ground.”


He recovered on the sideline and felt fine until it happened again a month later playing basketball. The dizzy spells increased over time, even when he lay flat in bed. He was forced to sleep with several pillows to elevate his head. He repeatedly complained to his parents that surely something was wrong.


Eventually, doctors’ appointments led to diagnostic tests. An initial CT scan showed nothing wrong, but an MRI revealed an entirely different story. Following the MRI, his doctor told Brown and his parents that they needed to see Dr. Arno Fried “right away”.

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Rafael on Behalf of Dr. Rathmann

Dear Dr. Rathmann –

On the drive home yesterday afternoon from your Morristown clinic, my wife Leonor commented that your manner and persona made her feel so comfortable interacting with you. Our son Richard said it could be the Kentuckian in you; his perception of people from the south is that they are, by and large, warm and affectionate.

To me a doctor analyzes test results, asks probing questions, listens to the patients’ answers, and together with all the classroom training and experiences to date, processes this information together to come up with an effective treatment approach and procedure.

I have tried to imagine what it was like for you at that time in the OR when my skull was open, with all the blood flowing, and while extricating most of the meningioma, you saw that some of it had attached itself to the big vein running from middle front of the brain to the middle back of the head / brain (I am paraphrasing what I heard you say). I wondered how your thought process went, to decide to avoid detaching what was attached to the vein, to preserve normal bodily functions.

Also, where you saw that the meningioma had eaten into part of the skull to decide on a titanium metal plate, not a mesh, of a particular shape and size to reinforce the weak area, to protect the brain, and to allow the skull bone to heal over time.

During such crossroads during major surgery, a doctor’s mind and hands could be said to be god-like, with powers to cause the preservation of life, or its destruction. I am not deifying doctors but close to it, because they make a difference in the arena of saving lives.

If you had been my ophthalmologist, my left eye glaucoma would have probably been detected earlier and optic nerve damage prevented, with no vision loss.
If you had been my orthopedic surgeon, my complaints about knee and hip joint pain would have been more properly addressed, and more effectively treated, to prevent surgery.

Thank you.

Best personal regards,

Stephanie Conklin (right) with Dr. Fried
Stephanie Conklin (right) with Dr. Fried
Stephanie Conklin spent nearly her entire life suffering from epileptic seizures. They began at age 7 after Stephanie was struck by a car and suffered a head injury. By the time she was 21, she was up to an average of eight major seizures per month.*

After surgery, medications and various medical procedures, she was able to lead a close to a normal life. But the epilepsy continued to trouble and limit her. She gave birth to her two children, but suffered a seizure while pregnant with her daughter. She got a job at the roller rink so she could walk to work because she was not allowed to drive due to her seizure risk.

Life finally changed for Conklin in 2007 when the now 33-year-old, Sayerville, New Jersey, resident was referred to Dr. Arno Fried, founder of Advanced Neurosurgery Associates (ANA). Dr. Fried, a nationally recognized leader and innovator in neurosurgery, has performed epilepsy surgeries for over two decades.

At her initial consultation, Dr. Fried told Conklin he was 90 percent certain he could limit her seizures. “If I was lucky and things went smoothly, they would totally stop,” she said.

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