Personal Story: Beating a Rare Condition

The day was made for golf. Dan Foley played the course with a friend then went to enjoy lunch. During his meal, Dan developed an odd tingling sensation in his left foot. When he walked to his car, his left knee buckled beneath him.

The next morning was sheer panic: Dan awoke with no feeling in his left leg and was numb from his abdomen to his toes. His wife rushed him to the Virtua Voorhees emergency room.

“I was scared to death. The day before, I had been a healthy 39-year old guy,” Dan recalls. And then ... the emergency room team ordered an MRI and other tests, but everything reported back normal. Virtua neurologist Yun Sun, MD, was called to examine him at the emergency room in the early evening. Based on Dan’s symptoms and the findings on the neurological exam, she diagnosed him with transverse myelitis (TM).

TM is an uncommon spinal cord injury caused by acute inflammation. Although Dan’s final diagnosis relied on even further testing, Dr. Sun made a diagnosis based on her extensive knowledge and experience.

She explains: “Only 1,400 new cases of transverse myelitis are diagnosed in the United States each year. I prescribed anti-inflammatory steroid therapy soon after the diagnosis to decrease inflammation and improve the chances of a faster recovery.”

The next day, Dr. Sun started Dan on intravenous steroid therapy. On Friday, three full days after Dan was admitted to the hospital, the follow-up MRI confirmed Dr. Sun’s diagnosis.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Dan continued on medication and started physical therapy. “My first 30 steps felt like I had run five miles,” remembers Dan.

Through hard work and the help of a dedicated rehab staff, Dan was able to run up the block just six weeks after his diagnosis. He says: “I will be forever grateful to Dr. Sun for her insight, expertise and compassion. Because of her quick thinking, I am confident that I will make a full recovery.”

Updated August 22, 2018