How to hack your health

I thought I would have to live with an unusual medical condition for life. However, using the method I describe in this post, I found the one surgeon in the world who could help me.

For a little over four years, I have had a paralyzed left hemi-diaphragm. The result is reduced lung capacity (down by about 1/3), particularly on exertion. Until about six months ago, I thought I would live with this for the rest of my life. Many people live with much worse, of course, but this condition made it hard to do the very things I was trying to do to live a more healthy life, such as bicycling and weight-lifting.

Some medical conditions are more unusual than others

Being both an inquisitive geek and a bit of a hypochondriac, I dug into this problem as I would any other. What I learned about the current state of health care for unusual conditions was eye-opening, and I want to share those lessons here.

If you have a somewhat unusual medical condition, I am going to tell you exactly how to get the best health care you can from the current system. I think you’ll agree that what I discovered isn’t exactly intuitive. I hope you will find that some or all of what I describe is useful to you as well.

The first part of this post gives some background as to my personal story and how I came to need the information in this post. If you’d like to skip directly to the “how to,” click here.

No bad guys

It's better to have a common problem

I am not out to bash the health care system or any particular part of it. Heck, I’m married to a doctor, and I have many friends in health care. (So do you—they represent about 11.5% of the workforce.) It’s my experience that these are wonderful professionals doing the best—often extraordinary—jobs they can do under difficult circumstances.

It’s simply the fact of the matter that most health care professionals spend most of their time dealing with relatively routine issues. Talk to them about high blood pressure or diabetes, and you’ll be getting the benefit of 100s or 1000s of cases that they’ve treated in their careers.

However, ask them about your paralyzed left hemi-diaphragm, and…

The diagnosis

I “presented” with reduced breath sounds in my lower left lung and severe pain in my left upper back and shoulder. After shrugging it off for a few days, I saw my general practitioner, a family practice doc at a very large university medical center.

He diagnosed pneumonia, prescribed an antibiotic, and sent me for a chest x-ray.

Radiology looked at my chest x-ray and said they wanted another film with me lying down.

Given the new x-rays, my GP now diagnosed me with a pleural effusion (fluid outside one’s lungs, where pneumonia is fluid inside). Sent me home to essentially ride it out.

After 7-10 days, not much had changed, so GP sends me to a pulmonologist. The pulmonologist takes my history, then speculates that I have a paralyzed diaphragm. He sends me downstairs to radiology, where I have a simple “sniff test,” which confirms that, indeed, the left half of my diaphragm is not moving.

Each phrenic nerve innervates one-half of the diaphragm.

What to do? “I have no idea,” says the pulmonologist. He mentions a procedure called a plication, and sends me on my way.

The consultations

Over the next several months, I discuss my condition with a number of doctors, with the following results:

General practitioner: there’s nothing to be done.

Pulmonologist at university medical center: looks up “paralyzed diaphragm” in Wikipedia while I’m in exam room. No joke. (I did not pay for this visit.)

Friend who is top-notch pediatric neurosurgeon: nothing to be done but plication, see this general thoracic surgeon, best around.

Sometimes one opinion is enough.

Friend who is top-notch adult neurosurgeon: nothing to be done, but see this pulmonologist, best around.

Best general thoracic surgeon: we can plicate your left hemi-diaphragm. It won’t fix anything, but will stop the diaphragm from impinging upwards into your left lung.

(In the middle of all this, they find a cyst on my pancreas, which leads me to oncology, but that’s another story–with a happy ending.)

Best pulmonologist: nothing to be done, but do these breathing exercises, they may help strengthen your “accessory” breathing muscles to make up for the lack of diaphragm action on the left side. Oh, and don’t do the plication. (This turns out to be good advice.)

My conclusions

After hearing lots of advice from lots of doctors, I independently come to the following conclusions:

  • the problem is with my nerve, I should not go messing with my diaphragm (no plication)
  • surgeons repair nerves all the time; in fact, I had a nerve repaired when I cut my head open once; surely there is a way to actually fix my phrenic nerve

Note that these conclusions were almost the exact opposite of what I was told by every doctor I consulted. It is not easy to go against all that expert advice, though it helps to be somewhat smug and pig-headed (or so says my wife).

I essentially decided to keep researching until I found a method or a person that could actually repair my broken/damaged phrenic nerve.

But how?

Here’s the “how to” part of this post, finally.

How to

Step 1: discover all the possible names and descriptions for your problem

In my case, the first phrase I heard was “paralyzed left hemi-diaphragm.” But there were others. My full list included:

  • paralyzed hemi-diaphragm
  • diaphragmatic paralysis
  • diaphragmatic palsy
  • phrenic nerve palsy
  • Parsonage-Turner Syndrome (refers more to the pain in my arm/chest/shoulder, but this term was used by one of the pulmonologists I saw)

To build this list (and it’s critical), Googling will help, but be sure to ask every doctor you see for his or her description of the problem. Read your doctor’s visit notes. There are idiosyncratic usages, and you want to discover them all.

Make a comprehensive list of all these terms. Include any related concepts, if any. For example, the phrenic nerve is often accidentally cut during heart surgery, so I might have included the keywords, “phrenic nerve heart surgery”. Vet the list with a doctor friend if you can, but err on the side of too broad a search, rather than too narrow.

Step Two – search the medical literature

Fortunately for us, your tax dollars really are at work here. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) (part of the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine) has an online database,, that is extensive, easy to search, and up-to-date.

PubMed is easy to search, but this will be the most time-consuming part of your research. You want to see if anything has already been published about your condition. (In the next step, you will set things up to continually monitor future publications.)

You are likely to find hundreds or thousands of articles about your condition, and there is no easy way to filter them–you’ll have to examine each one individually. You will probably only have to scan the article title, but this will still take some considerable time.

To get started, browse to, enter the first of your search terms in the search box at the top of the page, and settle in for some reading. Your results will look something like this:

Repeat this process for each of the search terms you listed in Step One. If you are a search guru and want to use some of PubMed’s more advanced features, such as ORing your search terms together, it may save you some scanning time.

As you perform your searches, be sure to look at PubMed’s “Related searches” section on the right side of the results pages. You may find some search terms that are relevant to your search that you hadn’t identified by other means in Step One. Add any such new  terms to your list.

(Note: if you happen to find some interesting results here, you can at least temporarily skip right to Step Four and follow up. If this doesn’t lead to a definitive solution for you, come back here and continue.)

At first, the (often) arcane, (usually) verbose language of science will be challenging, but you will soon develop a heuristic filter that will eliminate the need to dig into most of the articles presented to you.

For example: since PubMed indexes both clinical and “bench science” articles, you will probably see a mix of basic research and more practical (for your purposes) clinical information. You will often be able to easily weed out the bench science articles because they will contain clue words in the article title, such as the names of genes (usually presented in all caps). E.g., if you see, “Role played by P2X and P2Y receptors in evoking the muscle chemoreflex,” you can tell by the names of the genes P2X and P2Y (they are usually capitalized) that this is basic research, and unlikely to be of any immediate relevance to you.

Abstracts will tell you what you need 95% of the time. You will get used to quickly scanning article abstracts for clues to the relevance of the article to your condition. In particular, skip to the “results” or “conclusions” section(s) of the abstract, if one or both of these exists. These summaries will often tell you all you need to know.

For example, here is the title and the Results and Conclusions sections of the article that led me to finding a possible solution for my problem:

Reinnervation of the paralyzed diaphragm: application of nerve surgery techniques following unilateral phrenic nerve injury.

“Results: Measures of postoperative improvement included pulmonary function testing, fluoroscopic sniff testing, and a standardized quality-of-life survey, from which it was determined that eight of nine patients who could be completely evaluated experienced improvements in diaphragmatic function.

“Conclusions: Based on the favorable results in this small series, we suggest expanding nerve reconstruction techniques to phrenic nerve injury treatment and propose an algorithm for treatment of unilateral phrenic nerve injury that may expand the current limitations in therapy.”

(If you’ve read this entire post, you can probably imagine my excitement upon seeing this article, several years into my research.)

Step Three – set up and monitor an on-going search of the medical literature

If you are unsuccessful in finding any already-published literature that addresses your condition in a way meaningful for you, you can set up an on-going search to monitor PubMed for you and send you the results on a regular schedule. This is how I found my solution, several years after my initial PubMed search.

PubCrawler is a tool for setting up this ongoing search. It was was developed and is hosted by Ken Wolfe’s lab in the Genetics Department, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. The web site (as opposed to the search tool behind the scenes) was developed by, and is currently maintained by Karsten Hokamp, Ph.D.

Find PubCrawler at

Since I started my research, PubMed itself has added a tool that functions similarly to PubCrawler. It is accessed via PubMed’s “saved searches” functionality, available to you once you have created an account.

You may find PubMed’s functionality slightly easier to use than PubCrawler. However, since I used PubCrawler, I want to give them props here.

Create an account and set up your query(ies). Setting up queries in PubCrawler is a little different than you may be used to. Instead of simply typing keywords into a search box, you enter your search terms individually, and must connect those search terms with the logical keywords AND, OR, or NOT. In addition, each of these logical keywords can include parentheses.

It may take a bit of fiddling to get what you want, and there is not much in the way of help. To get you started, here’s how I created one of my searches. I wanted to wind up with the following logical statement:

(“phrenic nerve” OR diaphragm) AND (paralysis OR palsy)

The PubCrawler way to achieve this is:

PubCrawler uses a form-based search.

The “search field” can have many values, which map to search fields in PubMed. For our purposes, Title/Abstract is really the only one you need to use, at least to get started.

At the bottom of the search form, you must choose one of PubMed, PubMed Neighbours, Nucleotide, or Necleotide Neighbours. Choose PubMed.

If you need more search term rows, change the number in the “Terms” field and click Change! (There is no need to reduce the number of terms–unused rows will be ignored.)

After you save your query(ies), you will get the “dashboard” page of PubCrawler. From the dashboard, you can change a number of options, including how often your receive the results emails, how far back PubCrawler searches, etc.

One option that you may want to change is found in the “Parameters” section. The Relentrezdate parameter controls how far back PubCrawler searches for new “hits.” Since you just looked at all of PubMed to date in Step 2, you can set this parameter to 10 days. (Don’t set it to 5, otherwise, your weekly searches will only go back 5 days.)

That is all you need to do to get PubCrawler working for you. The current default is that queries are run some time on each Sunday, so you can expect to see a results email each Monday morning. Results emails will look something like this:

PubMed results, delivered to your inbox.

Each article in the results email is hyperlinked to its PubMed page, so one click will bring you to the same type of article page on PubMed that you are used to from Step 2. Use the same sort of scanning process you used in Step 2 to identify articles of interest. You will have a far smaller number of articles to scan each week than you did when you searched all of PubMed, because you are only getting results from the last week.

Step Four – follow up on promising leads

Once you find an article of interest, there are a couple of things you may want to do with the article:

  • read the full text of the article, for your own education
  • bring the article to the attention of your doctor
  • contact the author(s) of the article for more information, information on clinical trials, information about getting the treatment outlined, etc.

To read the full text of the article, or to get the full text of the article to bring to your doctor, you will have to find that full text. It may or may not be available online. PubMed has a great, short video on how to find the full text article.

You may also want to contact the author(s) of the article. This is generally quite easy, as the authors’ affiliations are almost always listed on the article page in PubMed. Sometimes, the email address of the appropriate author is listed there as well. This will usually put you in touch easily.

If no contact information is in PubMed, then you will just need to do a little Googling, using the name of the author and their affiliated institution. Or browse to the web site of the affiliated university, hospital, or clinic and search there. Or just call the affiliated institution. This step will likely be easy.

One small note: these articles will usually have multiple authors. It is usually the case that you’ll want to speak to the first author listed. If that leads to a dead end (if, for example, that person has left the affiliated institution, since articles are often published months or years after the fact), try the last listed author next. This will often be the senior person in the group, and that person is most likely to still be at the institution. If that doesn’t work either, just work your way through all the authors.

It’s all up to you now

From here, it’s up to you, your new contacts, and your doctors.

In my case, I spoke with Dr. Matthew Kaufman, who had innovated this new procedure, then discussed it with my doctors at home. Dr. Kaufman recently performed the surgery on me, which went very well. I am now in a waiting period to see if my nerve will regrow as we hope it will.

I was the 42nd person in the world to have this surgery. I would have preferred to have been the 420th person, but there was a downside to waiting. Had I not followed the procedure described here, I would probably not have found out about this surgeon and this procedure for years, if at all, and it might have been too late.

I hope this can help you as well.

400 Responses to “How to hack your health”

  1. Tom Robertson Says:

    Thanks for the insite. Last month I was told that my Phrenic nerve was not working my left dyaphragm. Dr found no trauma to my neck. I have been a firefighter for 29 years and have been exposed to smoke and other bad stuff. Right now we are waiting to see if the nerve regenerates. Is there breathing excercises I can do? Thanks

    • scrozier Says:

      Tom, I am *not* a doctor, so not qualified to give you advice. I will say that I saw a good pulmonologist, and he gave me exercises to do to strengthen my accessory breathing muscles to at least partially make up for the paralyzed side.

      Find a good pulmonologist.

      Also, I will send you, via private email, contact info for the surgeon who worked on my phrenic nerve.

      • Mary Says:

        I too have researched a lot online and though I have not yet seen a pulmonologist, my situation I know is a result of complications from previous surgeries, 1 year ago. Also, have been told that I just need to practice deep breathing! & that the other side will compensate! Curious to know if symptoms you had included great fatigue, bad dry cough and of course, the shortness of breath.
        I have been on Dr. Kaufman’s website and have followed the other posts about his patients. How long has it been since your surgery & have you seen more relief?

      • scrozier Says:

        Mary: no, I didn’t have great fatigue unless in the aftermath of something like walking up a steep hill, carrying something heavy, etc. No, no bad dry cough. Yes, shortness of breath. (I especially noticed the inability to “get a good deep breath” if I sneezed or otherwise tried to draw a deep breath.)

        It’s been 4 weeks since my surgery. I haven’t seen any relief, but due to my particular situation, I don’t expect to for many months. Essentially until my phrenic nerve can regenerate from the site of my nerve transfer down to my diaphragm.

        FWIW, I found Dr. Kaufman and his staff to be good sources of information about the condition. Since they’ve seen 40+ of these cases, they have a good set of experiences to draw on. I would give them a call. You may find some good information even if you don’t have surgery.

      • Mary Says:

        Thanks for your response. Need to confirm what I suspect & will certainly give Dr. Kaufman’s office a call to get further Information when necessary.

  2. Brian Says:

    Was the surgery covered by insurance? Did you speak with any of Dr. Kaufman’s previous patients before having the procedure? I also want to thank you for your blog, when I found out my left diaphragm was paralyzed in Dec 2006 there was very little information out there, thank God for Dr. Kaufman’s efforts in this area, it gives people like us some hope that perhaps one day we can regain the use of our diaphragms.

    • scrozier Says:

      Brian, yes, the surgery was covered by insurance. In fact, our plan gave us an out-of-network exception since there was no one in-network who could perform it.

      No, I didn’t speak with previous patients. I probably should have, but I got a good feeling for Dr. Kaufman and his staff when I went for a pre-op visit and testing, so I guess I didn’t feel the need for it.

      Good luck to you!

  3. Steve Mc Says:

    Thank you for starting this blog. I was just diagnosed with left diaphragm paralysis 2 weeks ago. I am glad to know I am not alone. It sure seemed that way when the doctors were all scratching their heads trying to figure out a cause. CT scan showed nothing and MRI was just done yesterday. I did not have any symptoms other than mild intermittent chest pain on my left side, which provoked me to finally go see my doctor. I will be following your post closely. The surgery sounds very interesting and hopeful. Good Luck to all of you. I share in your frustrations with this disorder.

    • scrozier Says:

      Good luck to you, Steve. Let me know if I can be helpful.

      • Steve McNally Says:

        Thanks, I do have a lot of questions. Just don’t know where to begin. I am still in the shock phase, since I just recently received this diagnosis. Trying to figure out the cause is what is driving me crazy. I have been sent to see a neurologist next, will see what they have to say.

      • scrozier Says:

        We never did figure out the cause of mine, and I guess I don’t really care…I just want it to get better!

        Good luck to you.

  4. jan bush Says:

    My husband just had surgery on Feb.17th. Dr. Kaufman decompressed and did transplant on the phrenic nerve. I,too, searched the internet for months and “thank God” found Dr. Kaufman. His problem started after shoulder surgery-the paravertebral nerve block damaged his right phrenic nerve. And yes, we were told by all doctors that you could get by on one lung. Was sent to doctor in different part of state to discuss plication. So glad he didn’t pursue that. His lung doctor knew 2 months after the surgery that he had right diaphragm paralysis but never told him. He discovered it by reading his medical records…I just mailed letters to his doctors with printed material from the website to inform them of this surgery and asking them to spread the word among the medical community….hopefully, others won’t have to spend months trying to search for the answer…..

  5. Mary Says:

    Steve C.
    I got results from Pulmonologist today…Sniff test shows ” relative decreased movement of left diaphragm compared to right. Not consistent of left phrenic nerve paralysis, but rather weakness of diaphragm. PFT results did show low lung volume due to the elevated diaphram, which is indication there was injury to phrenic nerve., slight asthma, …….told “no specific therapy”, just regular exercise as well as maintaining ideal body weight. & use Inhaler daily…I might be 10 lbs. over what would be considered ideal. Not sure that I have found any relief with what I was told.

    In reply to Jan, I also had nerve blocks done, 1 prior to my surgery to determine if it relieved the compression that was causing the symptoms in my arm & hand so that might have been when injury was done or even during the 3 surgeries that followed. Will be interested on your husband’s progress.

  6. jan bush Says:

    Back to you Steve…
    My husband is doing absolutely great. I can hardly keep up with him on walks, whereas before, he ran out of oxygen after 5 minutes of walking. Also, he had ulnar damage (forearm and hand) from shoulder surgery…4 hours of arm weighted down and the ulnar nerve was previously compromised. Dr. Kaufman freed up the ulnar nerve at the elbow and his neurological symstoms have decreased. He started lung therapy to increase the strength of his diaphragm and that’s going well..mostly aerobic type exercises, treadmill, etc. We feel so very lucky to have found Dr. Kaufman…

    • scrozier Says:

      Jan, that is terrific news! All happiness to you and your husband. I am optimistic that I’ll be in the same camp once my nerve has had time to regenerate.

  7. Doades Says:

    my husband has double paralyzed diaphragm, not caused by injuries or surgery. basically healthy, just happened.
    doctors are waiting to see if will reverse, what can we do to help it.

  8. editbee Says:

    So pleased to have found your blog entry! My husband has a paralyzed left diaphragm, and has been told he’ll have to live with it. I think the nerve was damaged long years ago when he was standing by the road and got creamed by a drunk driver. Cervical vertebra C-5 was injured. Nobody discovered the diaphragm thing until 2007 when a heart scan tech wondered why my husband’s heart was moved and turned toward the right side of his chest. The x-rays at the pulmonologist’s were jaw-dropping to everyone. The diaphragm had risen so high, the left lung was crushed down to almost nothing. A fluoroscope was done. And after all that — “just be careful … no heavy lifting.” *sigh* The man can’t breathe! His life has come to nearly a standstill. Anyway! A google search on the phrenic nerve brought me to your blog, along with several links to Dr. Kaufman’s site. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’ll be sharing this with my husband to see what he thinks about pursuing this.

  9. Jill Says:

    Hello. Thank you for your blog. I am scheduled for phrenic nerve surgery with Dr Kaufman on Friday (July 20, 2012). I sustained this injury on Dec 21, 2012 when undergoing a catheter ablation where they injured the phrenic nerve. The past 7 months have been life changing and torturous. I am hopeful of success with this surgery. .

  10. Jill Says:

    oops sorry that should be 12/21/2011 not 2012.

  11. vona Says:

    My husband had phrenic nerve surgery with Dr. Kaufman on Jan. 27, 2012. Results as of last week: Still diaphragm is totally paralyzed. How are your results as of today?

  12. scrozier Says:

    Update on my situation. About 4-6 weeks ago, Dr Kaufman’s office contacted me and asked me to have a follow-up sniff test to see whether I had any diaphragm function. I don’t know this for sure, but I think this time (8 months out from surgery) would be about the minimum for my phrenic nerve to have regenerated.

    I said I would get the test, but put it on the back burner, as I did not notice any difference and thought that the sniff test would be “negative.”

    About two weeks ago, I finally went in for the test. I was a little underwhelmed by the radiologist. For one thing, she didn’t even ask me to sniff. I mentioned it to her, and she reluctantly had me sniff. She commented, “everything looks normal.” Puzzling. How could everything look normal? Clearly, she didn’t know what she was looking for.

    So the next day I contacted my pulmonologist, whom I trust completely. He’s been following me through the surgery with great interest, even though he was not completely convinced it was going to work.

    I told him about the test and asked him to talk to the radiologist. He said, “I saw the films myself yesterday, and your diaphragm position and function appears normal.”

    Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised!

    So far, I don’t feel much different, if at all. I’m assuming that that is because my left hemi-diaphragm has atrophied and will need to be rehabbed. I am doing that now, and have much hope!

    My wife (a physician) says that she still hears “reduced breath sounds” on my left side. I’m eager to talk to my pulmonologist to find out how that can be, with my diaphragm now working normally.

    I will travel back to NJ soon to have a follow-up nerve test, at Dr Kaufman’s request.

    I will keep you posted here.

    • Thomas W. Maddalla Says:

      Hi, Mr. Scrozier , Hoping this finds you well. I was #21 for surgery just like yours and I’ve been following you on the blog for a while and I wanted to thank you very much for being the person that you are. You were following everyone else’s interest and concern on the blog, without knowing the results of your own. You are a very special person, and I would like to thank you on behalf of everyone who have been helped by your kind words. I’m very happy to hear that you have been doing so well after not knowing the surgery worked. We are all very happy for you. Thanks for doing what you do. Thanks again… Tom Maddalla and Jan Bush Vero Beach, Florida

  13. Eric O Says:

    Mr. Crozier,
    I hope your condition continues to improve. And thank you for jumping into the research with both feet and sharing it here.

    I am 43 years old, and following a recent battle with the flu with some vomiting and with rather violent “dry-heaves” (this is about 11 months ago), I found myself short of breath, particularly when prone and when active walking uphill, upstairs, or when carrying a load in my arms. This has been hard because I have three young boys, 6,4 and 1 year old.

    I let this go on for about 6 months before finally seeking medical advice.

    Breathing tests revealed about a 40% reduction in lung capacity when prone and 15 to 20% reduction in the seated position. I was never tested while active or exercising.
    I also experienced episodes of long, drawn-out belching for no apparent reason.

    I figured I had ruptured something in my diaphragm, but the neurologist said that the flu-virus had actually damaged the Phrenic nerve, and the “dry-heaves” were not the culprit.
    They’re calling this a “bi-lateral partial paralysis of the diaphragm”
    The Neurologist essentally said there’s nothing to be done for my symptoms, but that sometimes people will find some improvement over time. OK

    My sleeping has suffered, my daily activities have suffered, yet
    I am grateful I have not experienced any real pain in conjunction with my symptoms, unlike so many others, and hope that everyone who reads this blog is finding comfort as time passes.

    Thanks for your blog.

    Eric O.
    Santa Cruz, CA

  14. Mike H Says:

    I too have found out that I have right side diaphragm paralysis. On 8-29-12 I woke up with severe right shoulder and upper back pain. After thinking it might be heart related, many doctors a few weeks later this was the diagnosis. I actually have images over a few weeks where my diaphragm is going up. I am planning on contacting someone to help. I am in Indiana. Is there any doctors you are aware of like Dr Kaufman in the Midwest? I’ll do New Jersey if necessary to get my breath back!

    • scrozier Says:

      Mike, I am unaware of anyone except Dr Kaufman who does this surgery, at least in the U.S. That’s not to say there is no one else, but I don’t know about them.

      Good luck to you!

  15. SARAH Y. Says:

    Finding this has been a huge help. For the last two years I have been in the E.R. several times with breathing issues. They have said it was this or it was that, then finally they did an X-ray. He told me, “There is something on your x-ray, it’s, it’s Well just come look.” He then showed me my x-ray and said “It could have been there for any amount of time. There is no way to know.” He never said what “it” was or anything really! He then asked if I wanted a second oppinion. Since he really didnt even give me a first oppinion, I jumped on that and went to a lung specialist. He sent me for my sniff test yesterday and I am meeting with him next week to discuss breathing exercizes and options. I used to love camping and I would love to be able to hike again. I think this procedure will be discussed next week with my doctor. Do you know what side effects this procedure can cause? Thanks for your article!

    • scrozier Says:

      Sarah, I am sorry that you’re having breathing problems. The first doctor didn’t sound very helpful; I hope the lung specialist is more so.

      If they tell you that you have a paralyzed diaphragm, you may want to consider contacting Dr Kauffman. It is unlikely that your lung specialist will know about the surgery I had.

      I will defer to your doctors to discuss the possible side effects, as I don’t want to confuse you–and I’m not a doctor.

      Good luck, and let me know if I can be of help.

      • SARAH Y. Says:


        Thanks for your quick response! The sniff test has already confirmed that is is a paralyzed diaphragm. The appointment next week is just so he can tell me breathing exersizes. I am already doing 6 breathing treatments a day, he thinks these exersizes will help cut those down. Do you know how I can contact Dr. Kauffman. I am only 26 years old and I dont want to be inactive, or miss work, or miss out on anything if I dont have too.

      • scrozier Says:

        Sarah, I will send you Dr Kauffman’s contact info by email. Again remembering that I’m not a doctor…I would certainly contact Dr Kauffman. I got a lot of bad/incorrect advice when I was in your position, including the advice from a prominent surgeon that I should have a diaphragm plication. If I had done that, I would not have been eligible for the surgery that actually corrected my condition.

        Also, it’s useful to move quickly on this. The longer your diaphragm is not innervated, the more it atrophies.

        Good luck!

  16. Robert Senatore Says:

    I have been going thru shortness of breath, bouts of belching like I have never experienced in my life , dry heaves in the morning and difficulty getting good sleep. I am 61 years old.. After many doctors exams , ct scans, mri’s ,x-rays, blood tests etc. I was 5 monthes into this sicknesss with no diagnosis , when finally my pulmonologist had my ct scan re-read by a different radiologist and he diagnosed nerve damage with a paralyzed left diaphragm that had collapsed my left lung and pulled my stomach and spleen out of their normal positions. After a sniff test this was proven to be the correct diagnosis. All my doctors said ” sorry” but there is nothing more that they can do for me.My son discovered Dr.Kaufman on the internet and on Aug. 1 I am going to see him at his office in New Jersey. Hopefully , I will be a candidate for nerve transplant surgery. Keep up the great servive you are providing with this blog.

  17. Robert Senatore Says:

    No , he just googled phrenic nerve damage and eventually was able to find Dr. Kaufman’s site.

  18. Robert Senatore Says:

    I am interested to know how you are doing since the operation.

    • scrozier Says:

      Robert, sorry for the late response. I am doing well, and the complete healing of my phrenic nerve was confirmed a while back (about 10-11 months post-surgery). I’m in the diaphragm rehab phase and, to be honest, not the most compliant patient. My daily life is pretty normal, but still have some shortness of breath on exertion. Will use this as a reminder to do my breathing exercises….

  19. Duane Pittman Says:

    Thanks for creating this blog. I hope others find it useful, and to that end I’ll tell my story. I, too, had unilateral (right) diaphragm paralysis, this from surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. I, too, was told by doctors and pulmonologists that nothing could be done (except a useless plication). I was very symptomatic and needed part-time supplemental oxygen, having lost about 40% of capacity and function. And most importantly, I, too, found Dr. Kaufman from digging around online.

    In July, 2011, I became Dr. Kaufman’s patient number 30-something. He went in with a thoracic surgeon standing by, not knowing what he would have to do. Turns out the nerve was still intact, but it was covered in scar tissue and was being strangled by fibroidal tissue (although the nerve had ceased to function during the TOS surgery seven months prior, in December, 2010.) Dr. Kaufman cleaned up the nerve but it still exhibited unusual results on an internal, direct conduction test, and because pristine nerve on both sides of the damaged portion was accessible through the incision in my neck (no thoracic surgery through my ribs required) he placed a graft over the scarred portion of the nerve. There was no way of knowing if the nerve would have reinnervated without the graft, and I had traveled 3,500 miles from northern Nevada for this procedure.

    It took almost a year to finally take, but take it did. A sniff test was normal, I oxygenate at 95-98%, I can lay flat on my back without gasping for air, and I’m back to my favorite pastime of high Sierra camping and backpacking. I backpacked at over 10,000 feet last year – while just a year before that I couldn’t drive above 8,500 feet without oxygen!

    I am indebted to Dr. Kaufman for this groundbreaking procedure. I know he doesn’t do it for the money; too much preparation and time compared to the more lucrative vanity plastic surgery. I wish all of you success with your situation.

  20. Robert Senatore Says:

    I have been examined by Dr. Kaufman , had my EMG done by Dr. Brown and I am scheduled to have nerve transplant surgery with Dr. Kaufman on Friday, Sept 13 at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. He thinks I have a 70% chance of success to regain use of my left diaphragm and hopefully open up my lung to enable me to breath normal again. Thanks to everyone for posting comments that have kept hope alive for me.

    • scrozier Says:

      Robert, hope your surgery went well!

      • robert Senatore Says:

        Hi, Surgery went well. Dr. Kaufman told me that with external stimulation my diaphragm moved after the surgery. He said this was due to the decompression procedure. My stomach is pulled up in my chest below the elevated diaphragm and that causes me discomfort daily but, I am used to it after 8 monthes. He transplanted the sural nerve from my left ankle and we now just can wait to see if the graft takes and the phrenic nerve is regenerated. I had my follow up visit last Thursday the 19th and the incisions are healing nicely. He wants to see me again in three monthes. Thanks for asking and I will keep you updated. All the best to you.

  21. Thomas W. Maddalla Says:

    Dr. Kaufman did mine in Feb. 2011 and did an amazing job. Better than New. I Was #21. You couldn’t have made a better choice as I’m sure you will be on your feet soon. It took for me the first day as in breathing better, then walking around the block the second day and progressively running for thirty minutes at a clip a year later. I couldn’t walk 200 feet before the procedure. Just couldn’t get enough oxygen. Jan and I are wishing you a speedy recovery, and say hello to Doctor Kaufman for us. Best wishes Tom Maddalla & Jan Bush, Vero Beach, Florida.

  22. Robert Senatore Says:

    Dr. Kaufman performed surgery on me yesterday , Friday the 13th . He transplanted a section of the sural nerve from my left ankle . He grafted it onto the left phrenic nerve near my collarbone. Everything went well. He thinks the future looks good for me. I said hello for you Thomas Maddalla. He seemed happy that his patients can keep in touch with each other. He is truly a miracle man.

  23. Thomas W. Maddalla Says:

    Dear Mr. Robert Senatore
    I just read about your surgery results and I started to cry I was so happy to hear your results. I’m so happy for you , I’d like to have a calibration. My surgery was on the opposite side, but nearly identical. It may take a few days to get on your feet, but don’t let that stop you. I was walking around the block at the hotel the next day. You will have to go to see Dr. Kaufman a week after surgery as did I so get your butt going and get some walking done. I know it hurts but get going and do what you can. Soon You will be the person you once were, Thanks to DR. Kaufman and the wonderful team that he has put together for us. Oh, and the ankle will heal eventually, you will find that your Nerve really likes its new home up in the penthouse. The side of your foot will be numb, but you won’t notice it after a while. Not really a bad trade if you ask me!!!! And you get to keep your Nerve to boot. Ha Ha. Hope All goes well with your recovery. Keep in touch with us, we’re here to stay. Maybe we can all have a reunion some day. A survivors Reunion… Well, we’ll sleep on it anyway. Hope this helps… Gods speed, Get well soon….Tom Maddalla and Jan Bush Vero Beach, Florida.

  24. Robert Senatore Says:

    Hi scrozier, Dr Kaufman was wondering how you are doing ? I’m going back on Thursday 9/19 for follow up. The cause of my illness has never been discovered and like you say ” I don’t care.” Hope you are well.

    • scrozier Says:

      Robert, I am well. See my previous post. Sorry I didn’t get back to you before you went in for follow-up. If you talk to Dr Kaufman and his team, please give them my best.

  25. Robert Senatore Says:

    Six weeks since my surgery and I had to get some physical activity in. I am a marathon runner and this illness has been a death sentence. I have not been able to run since last March when my diaphragm became paralyzed from the phrenic nerve injury. So, this past Saturday I did a 4 mile run/walk- 70% walk/30% run. I finished the 4 mile course in Central Park, NYC. No great achievement for me but, that being the old me. My breathing was extremely labored as there is no change in my condition since the operation. I will continue to ” attempt ” to be the runner I once was. My goal is to get my left lung back to 50% capability and train the next two years to run the 2015 NYC marathon. I have done it three times before as well as the Chicago, Philadelphia and New Jersey marathons. the memories are still with me but, I need to live with more than just memories. I would greatly appreciate comments from as many of my co- nerve transfer survivors as possible. If you can let me know about your recovery and present conditions monthes and years after the surgery I will be hugely thankful. God bless you all.

    • scrozier Says:

      Robert, good to hear from you. What did Dr Kaufman say should be your expectations in terms of nerve regeneration? Do you have to wait some time for that?

      I’m 21 months post-surgery at this point. I feel pretty good, but need to be more diligent about my rehab diaphragm exercises. I’m not particularly athletic, so don’t have anything like that to specifically compare. I still get pretty winded on hard exertion, but there seem to be so many other factors (aging, weight, etc.) that it’s hard for me to say specifically how my recovery is going.

      • Robert Senatore Says:

        Dr. Kaufman said it we won’t know if the graft took and the nerve is regenerated for 9-12 monthes. He predicted a 50% improvement in my breathing and said I will run again if all goes to plan. He said I will be the first to know if things are improving just by the way I’m feeling. I am 62 years old but , before this illness I was in better shape than 75% of the younger men I would run against ( 25-55 year old guys ). This condition has devastated my daily routine and I have only the hopeful success of this operation to hold on to.I have gained 15 lbs in the past year due to lack of exercise.I will be checking in with Dr. Kaufman at the three month point out from surgery- mid December and see what he thinks about the future for me.
        Thank you for your response and I hope we stay in communication with each other.

      • Thomas W. Maddalla Says:

        Hi Robert, Glad to see you are making a good progress in your endeavor for a recovery. I do know that it is not an easy achievement that can be done in a short period of time, and I share your feeling of not making progress before you get too old, I would add that I was diagnosed at 65 and suffered for two years before seeing Dr. Kaufman at 67 and now I’m 69 and 70 in January. My Point being that Rome wasn’t built in a day to barrow the phrase. It seems to me that you are doing better than I at this point as you are running a four mile run/walk, where myself I would be out of Oxygen at 400 Ft. at a mere Six weeks, and I was going through radiation treatments for Cancer at the same time. No Robert, Its not easy and certainly not fast, but it is more progress than most can expect in such a short time. I don’t want to sound too critical as you are working very hard to overcome this and I commend you for that. You sound like a fantastic person and I’m sure you will do just fine. I will make a closing prediction and say that you WILL RUN in the 2015 N.Y.C. MARATHON… Hope I will be there to see that. Good luck and get well even if it’s not too soon!!! Ha Ha Keep in touch. Tom

  26. Dee Ham Says:

    my name is Dee Ham and i am 63 years old… I have been an avid hiker for years. I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon this year and to Mount LeConte.but I knew I was lacking energy.. I have been diagnosed with a paralyzed left diaphragm. I have major issues when trying to do hikes now. I have a lot of bloating. I dont know what to do. My lung doctor has me taking spiriva. From reading the blog it seems that the only hope for me is getting in touch with DR Kaufman. I would appreciate any help. We have great medical schools in NC such as Duke and Baptist hospital but it doesnt seem that anyone specializes in this field.

  27. Bill L. Says:

    Mr. Crozier,
    Thanks for sharing your research and providing a forum for all to share. I was recently diagnosed with left diaphram paralysis. I have asthma, and for months my Dr. thought is was merely getting worse. At first I only used Pro-Air, then started using more frequently. My Dr. then put me on Advair 100/50 and after still having problems he put me on prednisone, Advair 500/50 and sent me for Pulmonary function testing. Results indicated restrictive disease and not obstructive as associated with asthma. I then met with Pulmonary Specialist who sent me for X-ray. Moments after arriving home from X-ray, I received a call from the Dr. to inform me that my left lung was elevated and that he suspected that my left diaphragm was paralyzed. He then sent me for a CT Scan which came back negative (aside from condition). I then went for “sniff” test which imediately confirmed paralysis. They believe it occured when I received a nerve block during rotator cuff surgery on my left shoulder in Oct 2012. I remember having some discomfort with my neck and throat after surgery although I really didn’t notice increase in asthma type symptoms and shortness of breath until spring/summer. My follow-up with Specialist was disappointing as he basically said the condition was permanent. I then informed him of Dr. Kauffman’s success which I learned from your blog. He said he was unaware of any such procedure but said he would look into it. At 50 yrs old, and happily married with two children (12 & 10) I am struggling with the fact that my breathing is going to be labored and asthma-ridden for the rest of my days. On Friday I called and left a message with Dr. Kauffman’s coordinator and expect a call this Monday. I am praying that I may be able to meet with him and more importantly be restored to my former self. Thanks again for the forum and God Bless you and all the others on this blog struggling with this condition and/or recovering.

  28. George McElhenny Says:

    Does Dr. Kaufman & IAR accept medicare & secondary insurances?

  29. Robert Senatore Says:

    Hi all. Four months since my nerve transplant . Started respiratory therapy this month and it is a slow laborious process but, necessary. I am resigned to the fact that this condition will be with me for my entire life and i will survive. I just will never do what I was able to do before .
    This “situation” has given me a different prospective on life .
    It has convinced me that the practice of taking life one day at a time is the only way to live. I was fortunate to have found Dr. Kaufman and his wonderful staff and can’t imagine what my life would be without my operation. I have hope for recovery . Whatever that will actually mean. God bless you all who have shared this unfortunate condition and good luck and success with your future lives. Now, I must do some breathing exercises and smell the roses.

    • scrozier Says:

      Thanks for the update, Robert. A couple of questions for my own curiosity. You’re doing rehab; does that imply that your nerve is working again already?

      Secondly, what kind of exercises/activities are you doing for respiratory therapy?

  30. Robert Senatore Says:

    My pulmonary doctor is hearing more breathing sounds in my left lung now than he did prior to my operation. Yet, my diaphragm is weak and hardly working. So, he is trying to get my brain to start sending impulses to my left diaphragm. Still will not know if nerve is regenerating enough to do this sufficiently for awhile. He is planning on monitoring my breathing each month. He has me doing 30 minute walking/running sessions a few times per week. Also, i use an inspired spirometer to measure how many millimeters of air I can fill my lungs up with.For my age and height it says I should inhale 2500mL. but , all I can reach is 2000mL. Also, I take approx 10 -20 deep breaths and hold my right diaphragm in place to try and resist its natural movements trying to get my brain to send signals to my left diaphragm and get it working..Additionally, I lie on the floor with my legs up on the couch and take 10-20 short breaths thru my nose. He wants gravity to try and make my diaphragm move up and push air out of my lung. Each month we will try different approaches to get that left diaphragm working and becoming somewhat stronger. He fears that waiting very long will weaken the diaphragm muscle so much that it will never work strong enough to get my left lung functioning at least 50% of normal. I am slowly getting into this routine and I know positive results may take a year.

  31. Dee Ham Says:

    Robert, I hope your pulmonary md has conferred with Dr Kauffman about your rehab.. since all most pulmonary doctors only tell you of the problem. I too went to a pulmonary doctor and he had never heard of Kaufman. You would think that these doctors would want to be up to date on what is happening. but i guess they leave it up to their patients to learn about new procedures…. good luck..Dee

    • Robert Senatore Says:

      Hi Dee, I actually brought my pulmonary doctor the full packet of all the information that Heather sent to me last summer that included Dr. Kaufman’s bio and articles about the nerve procedures he performs. My pulmonary doctor called Dr. Kaufman a genius and immediately had his receptionist photo copy all of the pages. He considers me and all of the patients Dr. Kaufman has performed surgery on very courageous people putting our lives in Dr. Kaufman’s hand for such ground breaking surgeries. My Dr. and I have had lengthy conversations about these procedures and he has taken great care and interest in helping me recover.I thank you for your thoughtful concerns.How are you doing ? Please let me know , as I feel a strong kinship with everybody who posts on this blog.

      • Dee Ham Says:

        I hikes 5 miles yesterday with my hiking club. They are a patient group and I was at back of pack. Going up is hard, flat and even terrain is ok. Sleep is not an issue but working out at the Y especially when my class goes to sit ups is tough. I guess I have a not severe case of paralyzed diaphragm. My physical last week did show a 50% reduction in breathing .. I am waiting to hear from Dr. Kaufman.I did give my family doctor a copy of Dr Kaufmans december paper he wrote and my doctor was very impressed too.. Hope all goes well for you.

      • Dee Ham Says:

        I spoke with Gordon a recent patient of Dr Kaufman’s in Charlotte and he says his breathing has improved 90% .. I hope others are getting the same results

  32. Robert Senatore Says:

    That’s good news. I wonder if he had a nerve transplant or a nerve decompression ? Dr. Kaufman has hopes for a 50% improvement for me with my nerve transplant. The left diaphragm has been out of business for so long that it has atrophied a great deal and at my age anything near a 90% improvement is out of reach. The last thing Dr. Kaufman said to me before I was wheeled into the operating room was, ” I can not make your nerve brand new and therefore your diaphragm will never be as good as it once was.” I understood that fact and was just hoping for any amount of improvement in my breathing . I just didn’t want my condition to get worse.It hasn’t gotten worse and for that I am grateful. Thanks for keeping this chain of information alive.

  33. Dee Ham Says:

    According to Gordon, who is an avid Kayaker, he had a nerve transplant. He is 61 years old I believe. He is VERY upbeat about his surgery and his positive attitude gives me hope…

    • Brenda Says:

      I am curious to see how you are doing today. Would you mind posting an update.
      Also anyone who has flown with pherenic nerve paralysis? I am supposed to go on a long international flight but am not sure I can handle the trip…
      Thanks for your input.

      • scrozier Says:

        Brenda, speaking only for myself, I’ve never had any trouble flying.

      • Brenda Says:

        Thank you for your response Steve. I truly would like to see my only child, ten year old Grandson and daughter-in-law who live in Australia! Supposed to leave in a coi

      • Brenda Says:

        Thank you very much for your response Steve. I truly would love to see my only son, ten year old Grandson and daughter-in-law who live in Australia! Supposed to leave in a couple of weeks…..
        Hope you are doing well.

      • Joan Marven Says:

        I have left phrenic nerve paralysis, I flew to Europe last year from Canada and will be going again this year, experienced no negative effects.

      • Judy Says:

        I have only 50% lung capacity at best. Mine injury was from a spinal surgery in my thoracic spine . I have flown to Florida from Los Angeles a lot of times, doesn’t seem to matter. I have severe back problems and a foot drop so I do also get a wheelchair at the airport. Have a safe trip.

      • Dee Says:

        I am doing ok… have not had a chance to hike yet…. still get winded easily … did fly to Europe this winter and had no issues breathing… maybe since I caught the flu in Europe I did not notice breathing issue… Wish I could say that I was back 100%

  34. philip nelsen Says:

    Thank you for something to read, I have parylzed diaphragm. I am 39 years old with asthma, and overweight but active.I stand all day and work on repairing cars structurally for a living. While at my allergist , I was asked if I wanted a flueshot, at the time I didn’t know much about them, my doctor since I have asthma said I could get very sick with flu, so I got it. A few days later I got I had stabbing pains in my chest while breathing. Went to hospital and was said to have plursy after chest xray. They also told me to follow up with pulmonologist for nodules on lung , which have been fine. While with the pulmonologist he asked if I had trouble breathing while swimming, I had noticed I couldn’t float easy, he also listened to breathing without deep breaths which no doctor had done, any way sniff test than specialist at Columbia confermed diaphragm parylsis. Anyway 8 years later after being told to lose weight I here of this, I woke two days ago with a colapsed lung and pneumonia , did not show in xray and they were gonna send me home. My pulse went up and I insisted they keep looking , I told them about diaphragm only to get blank stairs and asked for my pulmonolgist only to get told it was not asthma related, they then did ct with die(I never got die with asthma but had no choice).they than found adekeleksis? Collapsed lung with pneumonia do to non moving lung .any way found new doctor which cares and new pulm that I will share with. Right now 3 days recovering. Sorry for jumbling around needed to be heard thank you

    • Dee Ham Says:

      I am having surgery with doctor Kaufman I STRONGLY suggest you do the same if you want to get on with your life

      • Robert Senatore Says:

        Dee , Good luck. You are in the best of hands. It has been 6 months since my surgery with Dr. Kaufman and although my breathing has only slightly improved, I know I am on the right track to recovery and everybody who knows me says I look great now compared to how I looked a year ago. Say hello to Dr. Kaufman and
        his staff. Dee, you are a brave person to go for the surgery. God bless you.Best of times ahead.

      • Lori Says:

        Hi can you give me Dr Kaufmans website? Thank you

      • scrozier Says:

        Sent in email, Lori.

  35. Dee Ham Says:

    My surgery is the first week of June , Will post what I can after I return home… Hoping that this will improve things for me,, Excited but not going to get my hopes too high,, Wont know how much better things will get until further down the road

  36. Thomas W. Maddalla Says:

    Hi Dee, Just wanted to pass on the good wishes. I had mine done in 2011 and couldn’t ask for a better outcome. It was slow at first, but worth the wait. DR. Kaufman and his team will take good care of you. I can promise you that. He is amazing, so best wishes and keep your chin up. Tom Maddalla and Jan Bush Vero Beach, FL.

    • Dee Ham Says:

      thanks Tom for your well wishes. It would be fun someday to get as many Dr Kaufman patients together as possible. We all have something in common to talk about.. Dee Statesville NC

  37. phil nelsen Says:

    good luck Dee i hope every thing goes great

  38. Michelle Says:

    This is a very insightful article. My father was diagnosed with diaphragm paralysis about 7 months ago and has had a terrible time with it. No clear answers from the pulmanologist and several hospitalizations. All they want to do is throw some steroids and antibiotics his way and say “have a nice day!” He is very frustrated and tired of feeling this way. I have vowed to do what I can to help him out and after reading this blog I think we can get some answers. I will be contacting Dr Kaufman!!! My father has had 3 heart surgeries and it makes me wonder if this condition is a result of one of his surgeries. We were able to find in x-rays that he has had this condition unnoticed for at least a year prior to diagnosis. His doctors are not offering any type of exercises for his accessory muscles. I hope we can get some much needed help. Thank you all for the stories and information.

  39. Dee Ham Says:

    I am having surgery this summer ,, with Dr Kaufman. We keep changing dates.. but I am excited to do this no matter what the outcome

  40. Joan Marven Says:

    I am in awe of all the wonderful, brave people who are suffering with this dreadful problem, and to you Steve for being a great contact for us. Thankyou.

  41. Joan Marven Says:

    I had my thyroid removed almost 10 months ago, about two weeks after the surgery I had problems breathing and started gasping for breath…..I had the “Sniffing X-ray and was told I had left diaphragmatic paralysis / phrenic nerve palsy, and the prognosis was it would take up to eighteen months to heal???? I haven’t felt any different/ better since the surgery.

    • scrozier Says:

      Hi Joan. I am not a doctor, but I’ve been told by lots of them (doctors) that phrenic nerve damage does not spontaneously heal. You might want to check in with a pulmonologist or neurosurgeon.

      • Joan Marven Says:

        Hi Steve, thanks for your quick response, I have seen a Respirologist,a Physiotherapist,and lastly a Thoracic surgeon, the latter said after a year he would do the Plication, although the surgeon who did the surgery advised me against it! The physiotherapist taught me how to breathe, the Respirologist couldn’t help me at all….. My family doctor has given me inhalers and said ‘ I have lots of patients with only one lung and they’re fine’!!
        I would be very interested in talking with Dr Kaufman, if you would be so kind as to send me his contact information.
        Regards Joan
        Thank you

    • scrozier Says:

      Joan, be very wary of plication. As you know, it is *not* a fix for your phrenic nerve or your diaphragm, just a way to keep the diaphragm from impinging on your lung. If you have a plication, phrenic nerve repair is no longer useful.

      If I had had a plication, as also recommended to me by a thoracic surgeon, I would not have been a candidate for phrenic nerve repair.

      (And again, remember, I’m not a doctor, so take my advice for what it’s worth.)

  42. Dee Ham Says:

    Joan , I am due for surgery next month with DR Kaufman. I agree that you need to contact him and see what your chances of for surgery. I too am not a doctor but a 63 year old hiker that wants to get back on the trail again. This surgery at least gives me hope of returning to the hiking club I started six years ago.. Good luck…

  43. Joan Marven Says:

    Yes I am Steve, when the surgeon, plus I visualized this fix it, I decided that I wouldn’t have it done…
    Thank you for the address of Dr Kaufman, I will get in touch.
    Regards Joan

  44. Joan Marven Says:

    Hi Dee, very nice to meet you, so sorry you are going through this too.
    I really hope your surgery works for you:) so you can get back to the better health that you previously enjoyed.
    I just want to get back to my life as it was a year ago, I was feeling great and doing my favourite thing, Travelling, this diagnosis is a BAD one for all of us that have this.
    I can tell you it felt like a punch right between the eyes, and I’m still reeling.
    I will be getting in touch with Dr Kaufman.
    So much luck to you


  45. Dee Ham Says:

    thanks Joan

  46. Christine Says:

    Sooooooo grateful to you for all of the work you’ve done on behalf of all of us with paralysed diaphragms! My experience with the medical system is similar to so many of those posted here, and it’s been thoroughly validating to read through it all. I was diagnosed in late 2011 and given the same “nothing to be done but breathing exercises.” While I have better function than most of the people who have posted, I fear that other systems are being affected (specifically, my GI). Please please please PM me with the contact information of Dr. Kaufman. Thank you so much for your devotion to this issue.

  47. Dee Ham Says:

    Had my surgery with Dr Kaufman yesterday at 730 am, His group and the hospital are VERY professsional. He informed my wife that he was very excited about the outcome of the surgery., Will keep all informed…Our follow up meeting with him is tuesday…. Hope all goes well for the rest of my friends.

  48. Thomas w. Maddalla Says:

    Hi Dee, Congratulations on the first day of your new life. I was there in 2011 and never regretted it for a minute. We are praying that you will be feeling better soon, and on your way to full recovery down the road. Mine took a little over a year for full recovery, but was well worth the wait. Tell Dr. Kaufman that Tom Maddalla said Hello from Vero Beach Florida…………….Tom Maddalla and Jan Bush

    • Dee Ham Says:

      thanks Tom.. my conditions were not as bad as many but non the less took me off the hiking trail with my club… I too am very impressed and thankful that there are men such as Dr Kaufman in this world… God Bless from New Jersey … but back in North Carolina by Wed

    • Dee Ham Says:

      told the doctor hello for you.. he thinks I will recover but it will not be overnight… that is ok with me ..may be 8 months to a year also

  49. Robert Senatore Says:

    It’s been a little less than 10 months since my surgery with Dr Kaufman. Last Friday, I completed a month of diaphragm physical therapy at RFK Rehabilitation Center in Edison NJ. Last Sunday I completed a 5 mile race in Central Park. It was my first road race in 15 months and although my time was my slowest ever I felt great and have signed up for my next 5 miler on August 10. Dee, I hope you are doing well since your surgery Baby steps at first but, if you keep working at it the results you desire will come true. Hi to Tom Maddalla and Jan Bush. The support from everybody here has helped get me thru the lowest time in my life. God Bless and much love to all.

  50. Dee Ham Says:

    In the mountains resting for a couple of weeks in NC.. Your message was well timed.. I was getting a little down, not willing to accept that this recovery is not going to happen overnight. Happy July 4th.. God Bless

  51. Hugh Griffith Says:

    Thanks for the Blog! In January of this year, I had an anterior cervical procedure; and, after six months and several specialists, I finally had the xray with sniff. Apparently my phrenic nerve was damaged during the surgery resulting in a paralyzed left diaphragm. I would appreciate you sending me the link for Dr. Kaufman by email.

    • scrozier Says:

      Hi Hugh. Will send info shortly. Good luck!

      • Doreen Says:

        Please send me the info on Dr. Kauffman. My husband had a shoulder replacement in February. Ever since then we have been from doctor to doctor to get help for him. His phrenic nerve was either severed or damaged ( we can’t find anyone to verify either) and now he has a collapsed lung. Basically he has been told that he should feel lucky….many people live with one lung….and that he just needs to wait and see what happens. BS.
        The quality of his life has changed dramatically. We need help. He is finally ready to start seeking help again.
        Thank you.

      • Dee Ham Says:

        Steve will send you information.. you can also google parayzed diapragm and scroll to his website.. The recovery is long and slow but in my opinion is well worth the wait… It seems that most doctors imply that whats the big deal . You can live with one lung. I choose not to if there is even a small chance of fixing things I am going to try it

  52. Thomas w. Maddalla Says:

    Sorry to hear that you are joining this motley crew…But we are Happy, Happy, Happy to hear you chose the right coarse of action when you chose DR. Kaufman and his wonderful team. Welcome to the blog, and if you have any questions, feel free to just ask as we have all been there. OH….and Welcome Aboard. Tom Maddalla and Jan bush Vero beach, Fl.

  53. Dee Ham Says:

    Hugh I had the surgery in June and have no regrets… This is the only choice an active person has… Recovery will be long and slow but over time will be worth the wait. I have hiked up to eight miles and although not very strenuous it is a start.. my wife continues to imform me how well I am doing .. but I must keep reminding myself the recovery is not overnight…Keep us all informed as to your plans Dee

  54. Thomas w. Maddalla Says:

    Hi Doreen, Sorry to hear about your husbands misfortune, but you have come to the right place for help as we all have been through similar surgeries here at Scroziers Blog. I know that we can only supply some lip service right now but, we can surely supply lots of hugs during your experience Ha Ha. Oh Yeh, did I mention that Spare parts are still available here at no extra charge!!! Keep in touch and I’ll explain about the ” Spare Parts” . Good luck at Dr. Kaufmans office visit. I’m sure you won’t regret it. Tom Maddalla & Jan Bush, Vero Beach Florida

  55. Dee Ham Says:

    just curious .. has anyone that has had the surgery ( like I have) suffered any set backs? I was doing great walking as much as eight miles at a time in the mountains. Yesterday ( 4 months after the surgery ) I tried to walk 3 miles with my wife on a golf course and literally had to stop every 20 yds to catch my breath?? The golf course is not in the mtns and is pretty flat…

    • Rob Senatore Says:

      Hi Dee,
      I am one year since surgery and certainly have felt improvements since the surgery. Before my surgery I would be out of breath walking up a flight of steps. I am a marathon runner and have gotten up to 5 mile run/walks. No way I can run 5 miles without stopping. I think it will take me another year before I can run a half marathon ( 13 miles ) without stopping. Humid weather hinders my progress and any kind of respiratory ailment will slow me down , even the smallest of colds. Good luck. Do as much as you can but try not to overdue it. It is as Dr Kaufman told me a long slow recovery .

  56. scrozier Says:

    Dee, I don’t feel like I ever had a full recovery. Much of that is my fault: I haven’t been a very compliant therapy patient. Also, my diaphragm had been atrophying for 3-4 years before surgery. I am clearly better than before surgery, but not 100%. But as I say, my fault.

    • Dee Ham Says:

      thanks for the quick reply.. I have no idea how long my diaphragm has been paralyzed I assume that is the same as atrophying .My pulmonologist only tells me that at the time of diagnosis that the diaphragm had been paralyzed for over a year. Other than that he is of no help only to tell me that nerve grafting doesnt always work. The rehab people when asked for help on diaphragm training basically said to just try to breath deeper. Small town , little support or knowledge of what to do much less much encouragement and thats why I need this blog

      • scrozier Says:

        Dee, with my usual caveat that I’m not a doctor…nerve grafting doesn’t always work, but that is testable. I actually went back up to NJ about 11 months after my surgery, after a sniff test indicated that my diaphragm was working again. I had a repeat of the nerve conduction study that I assume we all had and loved. :-) It confirmed that, in my case, the nerve repair did indeed work. Perhaps it would be worth it for you to do the same? That way you’d know if rehab is worth it?

  57. MIKEL Says:

    I will be getting my right Phrenic nerve repaired by Dr Kaufman November 7 2014. I believe I’m his 60th + procedure.
    I too got the runaround by doctors who insisted that I live with this condition. I’m 52yrs old
    My journey started back in February of 2013. I was recovering from spinal fusion L2-L3. I have been retired on disability I have a very bad back this was my 3rd surgery involving my back.
    I noticed after surgery I had difficulty breathing especially at nite while sleeping I was wearing a back brace and it was pretty tight around my chest I presumed this was causing my labored breathing Once the the lumbar bone graft set and was stable the brace was removed.The labored breathing was still there but not as pronounced. I knew there was something wrong. Any type of elevation above 6k feet made breathing difficult. I really noticed this when flying.
    When I returned home the runaround began as most of you know.I really thought this condition was caused by the spinal fusion the breathing symptoms did not really start till after this surgery. It was a coincidence.The phrenic nerve is nowhere near the surgical procedure.
    As what most do nowadays I started to research my condition via the internet and I came across Avery Biomedical Devices. I inquired about the breathing pacemaker and was put in touch with Martin Dobelle. He spoke with me and recommended Dr Kaufman who practices at my local hospital 2 miles away what luck!
    I scheduled an appointment had my EMG by Dr Brown and surgery is set.
    There is 1 question I had for Dr Kaufman and it is “How did this happen?”
    He assured me it wasn’t the back surgery. It was most likely my previous career.
    I was a heavy equipment / diesel mechanic and I most likely injured my right phrenic nerve carrying something heavy on my shoulder, makes total sense. I couldn’t be more lucky as to have Dr Kaufman and Dr Brown so close to home!
    I pray this procedure works. If I get back 50% right lung capacity it will prove there is hope for this pesky condition and it will prove that I’m not crazy and the nay Sayers are proven wrong

    • Dee Ham Says:

      they have no idea what caused my diaphragm to stop working but they think it was a wreck in 2006 that began all of my problems..Had surgery on June 6th of 2014.. It is a long slow healing process . I think you will find that Dr Kaufman has done over 140 of these procedures but I could be wrong.. I know that the only other NC patient of Dr Kaufman told me that his back surgery caused his problem. He claims the surgeon cut the nerve by mistake but they never got proof…My lung specialist told me I had to live with the condition too.. but I went to the internet and well here I am four months later… doing swimming to build up or train my diaphragm to work again…Good luck…. they are great people on his team…

  58. Robert P. Mahoney Says:


    I’m scheduled for the surgery on Nov 14th, a week after you. I spent 12 months chasing down a diagnosis. It’s my right diaphragm/right phrenic. I dearly hope that the surgery is successful.

  59. MikeL Says:


    I also hope this surgery is successful.I will be happy with 50% right side lung function. In addition to my Phrenic Nerve repair Dr Kaufman is taking care of carpal tunnel syndrome in my right wrist. I was going to have a hand specialist perform this but Dr Kaufman does this procedure also after all it’s a nerve thing.Getting two things repaired in one hospitalization make good sense to me. However there is one decision I need to make; donor nerve or a graft harvested from me.
    I want the best outcome but I have problems with numbness in my legs now and it can be quite uncomfortable. Where the graft is removed it will be numb in the ankle area. I suppose we will discuss this before I go under maybe someone on this blog can chime in with their results using “donor” nerve graft

    • Dee Ham Says:

      I had the surgery in June and used my nerve from ankle.. some numbness but worth the risk..

    • scrozier Says:

      Mike, I’m not sure we’re talking apples and apples here, but Dr Kaufman harvested a nerve from my ankle for my phrenic nerve repair. The numbness is just a tiny bit disconcerting if I focus on it, but on a day-to-day basis, I don’t pay it any attention.

  60. Rob Senatore Says:

    I had the surgery a year ago. Dr. Kaufman used a section of nerve from outside my left ankle. There was numbness but, after awhile I didn’t even notice it. No problems since and I am a runner ,so my feet are important. Good luck.

  61. MikeL Says:

    Thanks for the replies. I will most likely use my nerve tissue I want the best outcome with little complications

  62. Tom Maddalla & Jan Bush Vero Beach , Fl. Says:

    There right mike, I had mine taken from the right ankle in 2011 and don’t even notice it. They say that parts are parts, but theirs nothing like your own parts and you get to keep them too. Ha Ha We’re wishing you our best wishes. Get well soon.

  63. Judy Sewell Says:

    I have had a breathing problem and damage to my right phrenic nerve since a thoracic spine surgery on 2009. I stopped breathing in recovery and was on a respirator for a few days . It took me months to get a diagnosis. No one wanted to send me for an EMg of my phrenic nerve and I was insistent and finally got one. My most recent sniff test is written so poorly it makes me crazy, it has the wrong side listed and is confusing saying there is a little movement , but my right diaphragm is paralyzed. I was a trail runner and then turned to a hiker and swimmer after a hip replacement , but always very active. Now I am out of breath walking to my car and my house is small. I did just send all my info to Dr. Kaufman and have a phone apt with him on this Friday. I am so hopeful that I will be a candidate for this surgery. I found his info on line when looking up info on diaphragm plication which my pulmonologist did not recommend. He said if I can still vacuum I don’t need to do anything and will be just fine.
    I sleep pretty much sitting up right to be able to breathe and also have central sleep apnea and wonder if that is related. I am praying and keeping my fingers crossed that in am a candidate !!

    • Dee Ham Says:

      I had the surgery June 6th. I was an avid hiker but for the year to year and half before surgery my hiking ability got worse and worse..They think paralyzed diaphragm was due to a wreck in August of 2006.. Dr Kaufman told my wife after my surgery that my nerves looked like a tossed salad. The healing process is very slow.. I am not hiking yet but trying to incorporate swimming into my exercise to build up my diaphragm.. Good Luck… Dee

      • Judy Sewell Says:

        Hi Dee,
        Good luck with your healing and getting back to hiking. I am used to slow healing, I have had 11 spine surgeries and those take quite a while to heal as well. I thought I was going to drown the last time I attempted swimming. But now I have read with the paralyzed diaphragm that swimming is a problem, I would love to get back to it. I was swimming a mile every day after an 8 mile hike when life was a little more normal.
        Thank you for your good luck wishes, I am so nervous about my phone apt tomorrow. I will post on here after it to let you know how it went.

  64. MikeL Says:

    Well I had my surgery 11/7/2014 and it didn’t go as planned. Dr Kaufman found where my right Phrenic nerve was compressed and he released it.Due to a severe hemorrhage on my part he could not finish the procedure with a nerve graft. I lost a bout a quart of blood and had to get a transfusion. The veins in that area were not normal.
    However he was successful in curing my right hand carpal tunnel problem.
    Dr Kaufman is a great doctor he is very concerned about my condition and is keeping a close eye on me.The hospital and his staff are the BEST!!!! I have followed up with his office and he referred me to a hematologist.If my problem with the bleeding is fixed he will go back in and perform the graft if the nerve decompression wasn’t enough.

    • scrozier Says:

      Mike, thanks for the update. Sorry to hear that things didn’t go according to plan. I’m sure you’re pleased about the carpal tunnel result.

      I guess you now have some more information, which can hopefully lead toward a better result in the future. Hang in there!

    • Dee Ham Says:

      Sorry also but happy about the carpal tunnel .. Hopefully you will be able to have the other surgery done later.. God Bless

  65. Dee Ham Says:

    for those that are in the process of recovery . Has anyone found that one particular type of exercise is better than others? I am trying to walk but now that winter has come to the south I am trying to swim in heated pool at the Y but it gets VERY frustrating….

  66. Tom Maddalla & Jan Bush Vero Beach , Fl. Says:

    Hi Dee, Don’t get frustrated, even though it is. It takes time and patience. Mine took over a year just to be able to go into water above the chest. I found that a combination of pool and exercise machines i/e physical therapy worked well. anything that put stress, or made the nerve work hard seemed to do the trick but time was a big ingredient. Just keep at it. We are all rooting for ya.keep up the good fight.

    • Dee Ham Says:

      Thanks!!!! to Tom and Jan … I know I am not a patient person , Just trying to be so is tough for me. Your message came at the perfect time… I really needed it… God Bless..

  67. Judy Sewell Says:

    Next Tuesday I get my second EMG of my diaphragm, I think as long as it hasn’t improved ,which I doubt as my lung capacity has gone down that I will be a candidate. I live in the Los Angeles area and Dr. Kaufman will be here in the middle of January, I am so hoping I make it. I do have a right paralyzed diaphragm. He was talking about the possibility of a pacemaker as well as working the phrenic nerve as I have central sleep apnea.

  68. Dee Ham Says:

    Good luck Judy!!! if you have the surgery be patient !!!!!!!!!!! You have a great support team in this blog.. Use it as I have.

  69. Kathy rao Says:

    I had plication in aug of this year just saw surgeon yesterday and surgeons told me it didn’t work does plication need to be done before seeing dr Kaufman. Thx

    • scrozier Says:

      Kathy, with my usual caveat that I am *not* a doctor, I believe that having a plication will mean that you are *not* a candidate for Dr Kaufman’s nerve repair. The reason–as I understand it–is that plication renders your diaphragm inactive, so repairing the nerve will be of no use, since your diaphragm won’t work.

      But please talk to your surgeon and to Dr Kaufman. Many surgeons (in my experience) have no idea that phrenic nerve repair is possible, so the could lead you down a road that obviates nerve repair.

    • Judy Sewell Says:

      Thank you Dee Ham, unfortunately the doctor that was supposed to do the EMG walked in and said he doesn’t stick needles in the diaphragm. He only had an intern search and do the nerve in my neck. He said it was a normal study. I still only have 50% Lung capacity , but I do not qualify do to this. Dr Kaufman wants me to have diaphragm re training with a physical therapist who is qualified and if no improvement then, I will have another sniff test . I was really upset as I am or was an avid runner. Now I can barely walk up hill. So now I have no idea what is really going on. Kind of frustrated. But I am glad DrKaufman is so careful and not proceeding when the results are vague.

      • Dee Ham Says:

        Judy , i had a doctor in New Jersey do my emg two days before the surgery and he did the needle .. Dr Kaufman can arrange the test to be done up there in Edison, NJ Good luck on finding a therapist who is qualified to do re training.. You will only find a qualified one in a major city.Therapist are like chiropractors. They will all say they can fix your problem whether they can or not..

      • Judy Sewell Says:

        Hi Dee Ham,
        WEll I am in Los Angeles and DrKaufman comes here on occasion and does the surgery here so I was not going to NJ. Heather at DrKaufmans gave me a few names of therapists in LA, they are all about an hour away from me. I haven’t called yet, I emailed one, but didn’t get a reply. What are you doing to strengthen your diaphragm after your surgery. I looked on line a little last night and see one exercise on a lot of sites. I will start trying to do that today. I also have one of those devices they give you in the hospital after surgery and I should have been using it all along, but I get lazy. I will pull that out too.

      • Dee Ham Says:

        I am walking , swimming some… not lifting weights . Just trying to deep breathe when I walk.. Those that have recovered have told me that time is the biggest factor….what is the exercise you saw on the web?

      • Judy Sewell Says:

        What I saw was a practice at diaphragm breathing when laying down, then you progress to using weights on your chest . I didn’t look it up yet today, I have been trying to track down some medication that was delivered to my old address.

  70. Kathy rao Says:

    Thank you so much for answering me so quickly. Very frustrated felt great for about a month, but back to square one right diaphragm extremely elevated. The original symptoms are all returning. I will call Dr. Kaufman. Thanks again for your advise.

  71. Byron Pugh Says:

    Thank you all for your comments on this site. I had a cardiac ablation on October 6, 2014 and could not breathe after surgery. Over the last couple of months, I have had multiple tests which have revealed bilateral diaphragmatic paralysis. I have a small amount of function which allows me to breathe a little so no ventilator; however, I am now going on oxygen a night. My lungs are still in good shape so I am able to oxygenate during the day by multiple quick breaths. I am going to contact Dr. Kaufman on Monday; however, in reviewing his website QA’s, he indicates that if there is movement in the diaphragm, you are not a candidate. I have a small amount of movement on both sides, but very limited. Anyone know if that will affect my potential as a surgical candidate?

    • scrozier Says:

      Byron, sorry to hear of your issue. That sounds unpleasant at best. I think your question is best left for Dr Kaufman. Best wishes to you!

    • Judy Sewell Says:

      I would definitely leave it to DrKaufman, but in my case it was said on a sniff test that my right side was paralyzed and also that it moved a little so I was not a candidate. Dr Kaufman suggested I go to a diaphragm re training program and then if no improvement then have another sniff test. I wish you the best of luck and hope he can help you

  72. susan Says:

    I too had the surgery with Dr. Kauffmann. It’s been about 2 years. Like many writing here, I was initially misdiagnosed (MS and polio were mentioned). Your advice about researching one’s own condition is very helpful. Currently, I’m interested in following developments and treatment opportunities that may come in the future and will certainly follow your advice with regard to publications. Thank you.

    As to my case, the right diaphragm was paralyzed, but the phrenic nerve was mostly intact though there was significant scar tissue from an old and recurring neck injury. Since the surgery, I have had modest improvement. The most significant is relief from a sensation of being punched in the stomach when bending down or over. Gratefully, this sensation has almost disappeared. I also have some movement of the right diaphragm, but my blood oxygen still drops too low at night. So, I would say that the surgery with Kauffmann was worth it, but didn’t entirely reverse my condition, and I don’t expect at this point that it will.

    I am of the opinion that exercise of certain types could help, but there is very little about it in the literature that I have found, except for advice to do deep breathing exercises. I wonder if more aggressive kinds of diaphragmatic and lung exercises could be useful. I am a professor, and I notice that in the last few months, I have become weaker and shorter of breath, even though I continued my gym routine. But this has also been the time that I was on research leave and not lecturing 6 hours a week. Voice and wind instrument training develop great powerful lungs. Why shouldn’t the techniques for playing the clarinet, or singing not be helpful to those who need to strengthen those muscles that remain in play?

    • scrozier Says:

      Susan, my experience was/is very similar to yours, and you articulated it much better than I’ve been able to. I will reply at greater length when I have more time. Thanks for posting.

      • Jill Says:

        Oh, I think the singing and/or clarinet playing or playing other types of instruments that require allot of breathing effort would help. In pulmonary rehab (before and after my surgery with Dr Kaufman) we played the harmonica, I loved it!

        My surgery with Dr Kaufman was in the summer of 2012. My phrenic nerve was damaged during a routine procedure. Dr Kaufman found scar tissue on my phrenic nerve. 2.5 years later my phrenic nerve has regenerated. When I have another sniff test I’ll know if the diaphragm is working correctly or not since when I had the phrenic nerve issue the diaphragm was working in reverse. My right diaphragm still has issues as does my right lung but it appears the phrenic nerve is working again! My breathing capacity is far from normal. The lower part of my right lung is still collapsed due to the diaphragm being smashed into it. So, for me, life is greatly improved since my surgery but the overall quality of my life due to breathing issues remains somewhat challenged.

  73. Vicki Beam Says:

    Can you please contact me – my husband had open heart surgery last July – both phrenic nerves were damaged – both sides of diaphragm not working – we are looking for someone to see.

  74. Hugh Griffith Says:

    I had initially posted several months ago and incorrectly stated that I had anterior cervical surgery. I had a posterior stenosis procedure that resulted in damage to my phrenic nerve and a paralyzed right diaphragm. That being corrected my question is would you consider surgery if you were 75, not especially active, in no particular pain, but short of breath lying down or upon exertion? I’m afraid of any more surgery in my cervical region because of the possible risk of more paralysis of my diaphragm. I enjoy life, am an active RVer in decent condition, but going downhill quicker than I would prefer. Would you relax with a couple of glasses of wine, travel when you could, and slowly wind down; or have the surgery and try to grab a few more quality years? What say you??

    • scrozier Says:

      Well. We’ve moved on to existential questions!

      Tough call, Hugh. I think for me, a lot would depend on how likely you are to make a good recovery. Which, unfortunately, is probably hard to answer. I’m getting the feeling from hearing people here that the time between the initial “injury” and the surgery is a factor: the longer the time, the more atrophy of your diaphragm. But obviously there are lots of other issues.

      I would talk with Dr Kaufman and get his opinion. I personally found him pretty thoughtful about the overall chances of a good outcome, broadly speaking.

      Best of luck to you!

    • Judy Sewell Says:

      Hi Hugh,
      I agree with Scrozier, I would see if I was actually a good candidate for this surgery. I would talk with DrKaufman, I mean you don’t have anything to loose by talking to him. I was not a candidate at this time do to a few test results that were vague. So I am trying to see if my diaphragm will rehabilitate and then will test again. So if you are not an excellent candidate DrKaufman will certainly let you know. Good luck.

  75. Hugh Griffith Says:

    Steve, I posted a comment last night for your review. I didn’t see it today and realized I used the wrong email address from my previous registration. If you feel the comment was worth posting, then use the email address below. Thanks!

  76. Paul Jeffcutt Says:

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for your fascinating blog and story which has stimulated such good discussion. I have recently learnt that I have a partially paralysed left diaphragm, it is raised and weakly functioning. This probably resulted from cardiac sugery over three years ago. In the interim I had a series of wrong diagnoses.I suffer breathing problems and have developed asthma.

    As I understand it because my left diaphragm works properly but weakly, I am not a candidate for reconstructive nerve surgery. My specialist advises plication but I do not want to take that step until I have explored all other options. I want to try and improve my diaphragms function but can get no advice here in Ireland on appropriate breathing or other exercises. The material I have found on the internet is not focused on my condition and confusing.

    You mentioned a programme of specific exercises that you had been following for diaphragm rehab. Please could you give me some more information about these.



    • scrozier Says:

      Paul, others here have posted more specific exercises. Read over the comments carefully. For myself, my pulmonologist has recommended primarily inhalation against resistance. He gave me a spirometer tricked out with a series of filters (not sure that’s the right term) that add resistance. I also bought a similar device at the drug store.

      I think he told me that light-moderate exercise won’t do much to rehab the diaphragm…you need to be really exercising it with deep breaths.

      With my usual caveat that I’m not a doctor, I would be very cautious about plication. It will rule out other options down the road.

      Best of luck to you!

      • Paul Jeffcutt Says:

        Hi Steve,

        Thank you very much for your help. I have recently bought a device of this sort. How long do you spend each day doing this breathing exercise?

        All the very best,


      • scrozier Says:

        Paul, I’m the wrong person to ask. I’m not a very good rehab patient. I think if you spent 5-10 minutes a day, you’d get results. But best to ask a pulmonologist.

  77. carole Says:

    Had ablation for AFib last week and now have right phrenic nerve injury. Also experiencing right shoulder pain. How long to wait to talk with Dr. Kaufman? I understand this may heal on its own?

    • scrozier Says:

      My standard caveat: I’m not a doctor, so take my comments with the appropriate dose of skepticism!

      FWIW, my symptom was also very intense shoulder pain, which seems like such an odd thing.

      Personally, I would contact Dr Kaufman soon. My reasoning: he (Dr Kaufman) is pretty conservative; I think he would give you good counsel, no matter what the eventual outcome. But especially, the sooner this is diagnosed and corrected, the better, I think. (Though it sounds like you got a good diagnosis early on.)

  78. jeff hollenbach Says:

    I have had right sided diaphragm dysfunction for several years…it has worsened since being assaulted last year. Nobody knows what to do. The sniff test was + but EMG not showing any phrenic blockage according to the physician. I am aware of Dr. Kaufman but after speaking with his PAs am sure he will not be seeing me as a patient. Even though I had to retire from the medical profession as a PA myself, I am eager to take any advice on what to do. I get SOB, delirious, fatigued, and just cannot survive like this. After doing some research I did find that my lumbar laxity may be causing muscle weaknesses with the diaphragm; but it seems no physicians I have spoken to are on the same page with me and have no idea of what to do.

    • scrozier Says:

      Jeff, sorry to hear of your breathing issues. Yes, if you’re nerve(s) are fine, Dr Kaufman is probably not the one to help.

      Keeping in mind that I’m not a medical professional of any kind, the only thing that occurs to me is that some folks here have been helped by a regimen of lung (diaphragm) rehab, usually under the care of a pulmonologist.

      In any case, best wishes to you!

    • Judy Sewell Says:

      Jeff you sound like me. I had damage to my phrenic nerve during a spinal surgery of my thoracic spine. I had an EMG of my diaphragm a few years ago and it showed damage. So I contacted DR Kaufman and was on his schedule for last Jan here in Los Angeles. He did want me to have a repeat of the EMG, I went to the same hospital and the physician walked in the room and said he does not stick needles in diaphragms. so he only tested one time on my neck and wrote a report saying everything was normal. I also had a repeat sniff test where the doc was not paying attention, he wrote down the wrong side , and said it was paralyzed and it worked in almost the same sentence. so my surgery was cancelled. I am very short of breath as there was a lot of scarring to my lungs at this botched surgery as well. Dr Kaufman’s assistant suggested I try diaphragm rehab and get back to them in 6 months of no progress. I understand your frustration. My lung capacity had gone down to 43% last year and now is about 55% , but I try to hike and it is darn hard and frustrating. I also have severe back problems and am walking all hunched over which is how the doc who refused to do the EMG said my problems lay. I am seeing my pulmonologist in the summer and I will try to get the EMG done with the same doc who did it originally and is not afraid to do it., I have no answers, just wanted to empathize with you.

      • Dee Says:

        I had the surgery one year ago and all I can tell you is that recovery is very very slow… My pulmonologist told me that I had to live with my paralyzed diaphragm.. Living in a small town finding anyone smart enough to prescribe or direct one in diaphragm training is a joke. We drove to NJ to have the emg and to have the surgery … from NC .The nerves involved with the surgery were like a tossed salad Dr KAUFMAN told my wife. My paralyzed diaphragm probably came from a wreck 8 years before..had no recourse with insurance since I HAD TO SETTLE FOUR YEARS AFTER MY ACCIDENT and who says insurance dont have things figured out.. I wish all of you good luck. Although my recovery is slow I WOULD DO IT ALL AGAIN….DEE

  79. jeffrey hollenbach Says:

    Judy, I can empathize with you also. Your story is very similar to mine. I had a needle diaphragm EMG two weeks ago and it has made me worse. I also had a second sniff test by an idiot physician who was not paying attention. I tend to be very frustrated with the people in healthcare since I have a lot of experience. I am scheduled to see a pulmonologist next week at Hershey Med Center, but am preparing for them to either tell me I am crazy or seek out Wikipedia to seek what I am talking about. The doc who did the EMG listed my report as right diaphragm disorder of activation not r/t phrenic nerve. How do u function? I cannot even take a few steps without my heart racing or getting overall fatigued. I also have had several spinal surgeries…Hopkins told me once that they do not know of anybody in the USA who has had so many (12)…and I need more but nobody will touch me. It all happened to me back in 1995 being hit in my yard by a drunk driver. What thoracic level did u have surgery on? Why? My mother had a kyphoplasty done at T4-5 a few months ago due to mets CA from her lung. She is 81…I am 52 but I feel like 95. We both have severe DDD (Degenerative Disc Disease) and osteoporosis. Did u reschedule surgery with Kaufman? Have u ever had a diaphragm needle EMG? It is horrible…I have had a lot of shots and tests in my life, but this took the cake!! Not to scare u but maybe it is not worth getting…seems like Kaufman prefers the + sniff test for more of a reason. When does he come out to CA? There is a doc at Jefferson University Hospital who saw me when I was getting the EMG. He does Plication and will also consider phrenic grafting he told me. Across the country these two are the only groups I could find. His name is Weinstein. If u want info on him I please let me know and I will give it to you. Thanks for writing me…do not hesitate to write back. Maybe we can help each other get proper care.

    • scrozier Says:

      The diaphragm needle EMG is indeed unpleasant, but it doesn’t last long. I went through it twice (in the name of science :-) ).

      • Dee Says:

        i had the needle emg done in NJ and although painful have NO regrets … the doctor doing it was very professional and thorough.

      • jeffrey hollenbach Says:

        Wow… we are like mirror images with diagnoses and symptoms…I have one level left cervical and since being assaulted almost killed last year it is compressing. I also have severe lumbar laxity…two times it was supposed to be fused at multiple levels but for strange reasons surgery was decreased to laminectomies. I have moderate thoracic scoliosis and severe sleep apnea also and just had lab tests for endocrine concerns. Maybe I will have to consider a schedule II like Nuvigil to live. It is worrying about getting every breath that scares me the most. You and I are very much in the same boat. Just walking in WalMart today took my concerns. It is frustrating. I do have Christian beliefs to keep GOD first in my life, but it has been hard. Anyway…you mentioned a discogram…I forgot about those…they were horrible I have had two. When u had the EMG for diaphragm did the doc cause spasms across the abdomen and severe pain with the needles? I think my rehab doctor was nothing special. I should hear by tomorrow if the pulmonologist at Hershey will see me…I spoke with his nurse today and she said she would call me back tomorrow. The visit was originally for nodules throughout my lungs and body…they now seemed to be r/t a medicine that I am on that can cause cancer. I have to get off that and on another and get chest CTs every 3-6 months to r/o any spreading. I am not worried about the nodules there it is in the neck and groin that cause most pain. I have some messages out to physical therapists and with my daughter who is an occupational therapist for specifics on diaphragm therapy. So what is our future…should we expect our diaphragms to totally fail? Plication and/or pacing is the only option if Kaufman is not doing phrenic grafting on us. I don’t even think there is any doc in the world via the internet to do much about it. I heard Cedars Sinai is a great hospital…have u checked there? I have family in Irvine who I have not seen for over 35 years but did visit them once when I was a teenager. I would go anywhere for help if anyone does anything for diaphragms!! The one area that I feel frustrated in that we do not share is that I am on disability. I cannot stand not working not helping people but along with memory issues, post concussion syndrome (assaulted and stabbed with a 8″ knife); u are tougher than me and still working–kudos to you!! I know I have many medical reasons to be able to do this but have a lot of respect of you for this. I gave up working as a physician assistant (PA-C)…playing doctor for many years. I was an R.N. prior to that…it is my personality to help and care for people. Now I sit around and get physically worse and spoil my three cats. Sorry to talk so much…I will let u know via your email address if that pulmonologist will see me.

      • Judy Sewell Says:

        Jeffrey, I sent you an email to continue our conversation.

  80. jeffrey hollenbach Says:

    Mr. Scrozier…where are u located? I can see we are two hours apart.

  81. Judy Sewell Says:

    Hi Jeffrey,
    I did have the needle diaphragm in about 2011, I don’t really remember it being that bad. I have also had 11 spinal surgeries and also have osteoporosis. I think the worst test I ever had was a discogram . I had some very bad thoracic discs, one in particular, T7 it was horrible, I was crying for awhile. The pain is short lived thought, but I do remember thinking it was worse than childbirth.
    I don’t know how often DrKaufman comes to Ca. I just knew he was coming last Jan. I have not contacted him again. I am going to see my pulmonologist and ask for repeat testing in hopes I get a decent doctor doing the tests. I have not gone for formal diaphragm training as DRKaufman’s staff suggested, as my pulmonologist said what I do for exercise is harder than any formal diaphragm training. I do still go hiking a few times a week. I am slow as anything and it is very difficult, but I used to be a trail runner and long distance and it kills me to not do anything. It is difficult to be so impaired. Even a group of 4 year olds with their parents passed me one time, pretty much everyone passes me. I don’t go very far. I am always fatigued. Do to money issues and a divorce, I really need to work full time, but I cant figure out how my body will handle it and so far I haven’t found anyone to hire me anyway. I also have sleep apnea and pituitary disease. All cause fatigue. I have been prescribed nuvigil and when needed I certainly take it.
    My thoracic surgery that caused the damage was at T7-8. I have had surgery on all levels from C4-L4. I am fused in that whole area. now I am walking all hunched over and am speaking to a new spinal surgeon about straightening me out. If my bone density is strong enough to handle it. I am sending my email, maybe we can communicate this way if it is not all appropriate for this blog.
    It is I do wish you the best of luck at the pulmonologist . Let me know how it turns out.

  82. Cathy von I Says:

    Please email me information on the doctor. Finding a good pulmonary dr. And thoracic dr. Is difficult. I have pherenic nerve damage and paralyzed right diagpram. Ling capacity 50 percent. Live in San francisco Bay Area. Approached Stanford no luck!

  83. carole Says:

    Flying out to Utah next week. Worried about altitude in Park City and flying in general. At least it’s not humid there. Hard to breathe in this humidity. Any suggestions?

    • scrozier Says:

      Carole, so sorry…I was on vacation and didn’t get to reply. I imagine this is history by now. I had a similar concern when going to mountainous Ecuador last year, but I didn’t have any (much) trouble. Obviously, everyone is different. To relieve my anxiety, I just made sure I knew where the nearest hospital was! I don’t notice it at all on commercial airline flights.

  84. Linda Harrison Says:

    Hello Steve. Thank you for your blog. I have been feeling all alone with this misery! I have been diagnosed with Right-side phrenic nerve damage. I had open heart surgery in February 2015 and was left with this damage. I am in the early stages of working with a Pulmonologist. He wants me to do physical rehab and thinks this will help with my breathing. My biggest concern is pulling air in. It seems it is an on-going effort that should get easier over time. This week I have developed a pain at the lower edge of my rib cage. Is this normal? Or should I be looking for a reason other than the diaphragm? The pain is not constant. Could it indicate that the nerve is beginning to function again?

    • scrozier Says:

      Linda, sorry to hear of your issue. I’ve heard that this happens during heart surgery occasionally.

      I’m not competent to answer your questions, but a thought is that you might want to Dr Kaufman or a neurologist. Some pulmonologists don’t seem to understand this problem.

      Good luck!

      • catpowered Says:

        Robert Senatore I was initially scheduled on your date September 13, 2012 then put it back to the 20th. I have to say my experience was very poor. After coming back home I ended up in the hospital with MRSA and Psudemonas infections obtained during my surgery. My surgery was at the Jersey Shore Medical Center. It has been a terrible road with no recovery. I probably would do it again but just use caution when you are dealing with people half way across the country that it really became a mess. I will not go into great detail but do think it through thoroughly and have a plan of action in the case there are complications. It almost killed me.

  85. Rob Senatore Says:

    My surgery went well on Friday the 13th of September 2013 at Jersey Shore Medical Center . The recovery has gone ok. No great success with getting my left diaphragm back to work. 15 months post surgery I had another fluoroscopy done and an EMG, Both confirmed the diaphragm is still inactive. Dr. Kaufman told me it may take 2-3 years to reactivate or it may never come back. I am trying my best to continue doing physical activity and keep up hope that someday I may have use of my left lung again.Sorry to hear the problems you had. Good luck to you.

    • catpowered Says:

      Glad to hear you are ok. Sorry for the delayed recovery. Dr K wants me to come back out and do an EMG NCS as well and offered a pacemaker. I declined for now. Keep the faith. I’m struggling quite a bit but keep plugging along. Slow and out or breath all the time it seems like. Many Gastro issue and now a curvature of the spine where the working diaphragm is pulling left That’s my major issue I’m dealing with now. anytime you want to chat fire me your number and I’d be glad to share stories and anything that could help you.

  86. Brenda Jordan Says:

    Hello everyone,
    I am VERY grateful to find this site that is so informative. I was diagnosed by sniff test today with left phrenic nerve paralysis. I believe mine was caused by nerve block for rotator cuff surgery. It is overwhelming because I have never known anyone with this diagnosis. It appears to be a complicated condition and I want to educate myself as much as possible. I see my Internal medicine Physician tomorrow to confer about prognosis. I feel much better after having read this blog. Does Dr Kaufman only do surgery in NJ and LA? I live in TN.
    Steve, I would like to have contact information for Dr Kaufman please. Thank you.
    Thank you all for sharing your experiences. Makes me feel not so alone. I am 62 today.

    • catpowered Says:

      Hi Brenda. You can find Dr Kaufman at http://www.advanced I talked to him a few months ago and he mentioned doing procedures in Cleveland also but to be honest I’m not sure it would be the phrenic surgery. Those are typically New Jersey and UCLA. He will make you wait usually up to six month but since you know why happened demand to get to him ASAP. Do not take no for an answer. I know someone from here in Indiana that had exactly what you had done with the same result. Nerve block after shoulder surgery. Paralyzed left side. Dr K operated on him but it wasn’t until at least a couple years after the onset which ended up being too late. Again don’t let anyone make you wait. I my self didn’t have a good experience but I guess I’m the one in a hundred. Anytime you want to talk email me at and I’ll be glad to exchange phone info. Good luck and get on the phone.
      Thanks, Mike

  87. Brenda Jordan Says:

    Thank you very much for the information Mike. I will definitely contact Dr Kaufman.
    I understand the sooner the better with this diagnosis after reading this blog. So little truly helpful and insightful information out there except A Million Better Things from Steve Crozier. Thank you Steve for all your research and hard work and sharing the information with us who share this uncommon health issue. Much appreciated!

  88. Brenda Says:

    Joan thank you very much for your response about flying internationally with phrenic nerve paralysis. It makes me feel much more confident about flying. Much appreciated. I hope you enjoy your trip to Europe. Regards

    • Joan Marven Says:

      You are so welcome Brenda, I hope you get to Australia to see your family, I’m planning on a trip to New Zealand next Jan/Feb 2016.
      I don’t feel any apprehension in going on such a long flight, it’s only 4 hours longer than my trip to the UK. I do always get mobility assistance, I find the long walks in the airports very taxing, just a thought.
      Take care

  89. Brenda Says:

    Dee and Judy
    Dee I believe if I remember correctly you had surgery for your phrenic nerve?i am so sorry you did not have a complete recovery.
    Thank you very much for your input about flying. I really appreciate hearing from those of you who have had experience flying with this health issue. I am so sorry you both are having some tough days. Take one day at a time and enjoy each one to the fullest. Hope you get to travel
    soon. Take care of yourselves. God Bless You.
    Thanks Joan!!

    • catpowered Says:

      I have flown a few times since and will be again Saturday. Swimming is what gets me. No air capacity against the pressure. When flying the cabin is pressurized so actually breathing is aided.

      What I am curious of us people who have actually had the survey graft and freeing up of the phrenic who have confirmed diaphragm movement and improved PFT scores. I am personally in communication with four others who have had the surgery with only one having a confirmed moving diaphragm post surgery. That recovery the surgery was done a few months maybe four after diagnosis. A second person suspects movement but doesn’t have the nerve to get the sniff test. I have had two X-rays, two sniff tests since with no improvement since surgery September 2012. I am curious as to whether the surgery is as successful as advertised. I have worked with specialists in diaphragm retrain since and to be very honest the take I got from coming away from that was the teaching of accessory breathing will improve your PFT, capacity by easily 10%. The gain can be recognized as a success of the surgery in reality the rehab is the gain with or without the repair. I’m not trying to debate. If it’s early I think there is a chance. Anyone care to give an educated opinion please do.

    • Judy Sewell Says:

      Hi Brenda, good luck with your travels. Catpowered, I know what you mean about swimming. I also have the disadvantage that my head is sitting too far forward and I cant bend it back to lift my head out of the water . It broke a few years ago. I used to enjoy swimming. About a year ago I went to my gym pool and just started trying to swim, I almost drowned. someone saw me and suggested I just walk in the water. I had no idea the paralyzed diaphragm would do that. I have been exercising for 6 months now as DRKaufman suggested. I had been on his surgical schedule here in Los
      Angeles last January, but I had a sniff test that was inconclusive by the writeup and also I went to have another diaphragm ultrasound and the doctor walked in and said he did not put needles in diaphragms. He then wrote a report to Dr Kaufman saying everything was normal and he never even did the test . I tried to reschedule with someone who would do it , but ended up not having enough time and DrKaufman told me to exercise, diaphragm rehab for 6 months and if no improvement to repeat those tests . I am now having major reconstructive spine surgery this Wed and then again in 6 weeks but after recovery I will try again for the surgery.
      I am waiting for replies to your question Catpowered.

      • Dee Says:

        I feel relieved to hear your comments about swimming.. I too use to be an avid swimmer , even coached a team and taught.. but now swimming one lap is pure hell…. trying to get back into hiking but have not done any but easy ones,,,I do walk 3 to 5 miles. and push mow my yard, which is at least keeping me active… I even took up pickle ball. and am having a blast playing… might try it???

      • Judy Sewell Says:

        Dee I am going to have to look up pickle ball!! I do go hiking, I gave up my strenuous trail that I love. I go to a gentler one, I don’t go very far, maybe 2 miles up. It is so darn difficult. I also sweat a lot and have the deformed spine. Actually today is my last chance to go hiking before my spinal surgery and I just can’t decide if I am up for the challenge. I have been lots of times, but the last time it seemed harder. I live in southern California and the trails are everywhere. I wanted to join a hiking club as I always go alone, but I go too slow.

      • Dee Says:

        if it makes you feel better our hiking club has gotten so strenuous we are not sure if we will stay.. and we started the club. Good luck with your surgery… know that friends is Carolina are praying for you

      • catpowered Says:

        I’m curious what spinal surgery??? I have the curved spine because of the one side pulling to the left. Three herniations now. The more I do the worse I hurt.

      • Brenda Says:

        Thank you very much Judy.
        I am very curious about all the folks on this blog who have had surgery by Dr Kaufman. If you have had surgery would you mind posting about how you are doing and how much improvement you have had…if any? It would be great to have that information.
        Also I am newly diagnosed (June 3) so I am still trying to learn as much as possible. I have a question: I have acid reflux.. Have had for years and take prescription RX for it and its always worked. Since being diagnosed with Kraft phrenic nerve paralysis, I have major heartburn every evening. Have any of you noticed this problem? Just curious if its related at all.
        Thanks much.

      • Brenda Jordan Says:

        LEFT phrenic nerve paralysis….typo… Sorry!!

        Sent from my iPhone

      • Judy Sewell Says:

        Hi Brenda. I also have acid reflux and a hiatal hernia. I did not notice a difference since my diaphragm has been paralyzed. I have had GERD since about 2005. I went through many prescriptions before finding aciphex . I used to take it twice a day, but since it causes bone issues I have weaned down to once a day.

      • Brenda Jordan Says:

        Judy and Dee Thank you for getting back to me about the acid reflux. Much appreciated! Brenda

        Sent from my iPad


      • Dee Says:

        no heartburn to speak of

  90. catpowered Says:

    I meant surgery graft. I can’t edit. Sorry.

  91. Judy Sewell Says:

    catpowered I have had 11 spinal surgeries already. I am all hunched over now. My lumbar spine is curved in the opposite direction of what it should be. My neck is way too far forward. I had broken it a few years ago and it was put back on too far forward. so this new surgeon I found is going to try to straighten out my whole spine. He said it will be very difficult. so Wed he will do surgery from the front and back. All lumbar from T10- L5 and to my pelvis. the fact that I am all crooked might be contributing a little to my poor lung capacity. It may improve up to 10% is what my pulmonologist thinks. I am sorry you have back problems too , they are miserable. I also have 2 fractures in L5 and my other ones have not totally healed yet do to the deformity. I am just praying my spine is not too messed up so he can help me.

  92. Judy Sewell Says:

    Thank you so much Dee. I am sorry your hiking club has gotten away from you. I guess you need to start a new one now!

    • catpowered Says:

      Haven’t heard from anybody in a while. How is everybody doing? It’s a hot summer here in Indiana the last couple days but before that has been very mild. Makes the breathing a little bit better you know.

  93. Judy Sewell Says:

    Hi Catpowered I had my reconstructive spinal surgery about 4 weeks ago. I am only allowed to lift one cup of coffee, for the next 8 weeks, no lifting or twisting or turning. I was going good for about 3 weeks then last week, I got so tir3ed, Sunday I slept from, Sunday night through Tuesday morning at 11am. Only woken by the dog. so today I went to the lab to have iron panels checked and cortisol. I guess a few days will tell if it is anything or just plain exhaustion., Then next month I go to see my pulmonologist to see if I havec any small improvement in lung capacity I hope so!! TAke care everyone. Oh by gte way I am standing up sgtraigher. Yah hoo

  94. James Says:

    Glad to have read this. What kind of Doctor is appropriate to do the phrenic nerve test or nerve conduction test as some call it? I have seen a general doctor and a thoracic doctor so far and no one has brought up the word, nerve. Plication was brought up.Just waiting now…(3 mths wait then return) In other words, how does Dr. Kaufman qualify you as a candidate for his work?

    • scrozier Says:

      James, I believe that a neurologist does the nerve testing. Many of us patients of Dr Kaufman had the nerve tests done there in NJ by a doctor that he (Dr Kaufman) recommends and works with.

      With my usual disclaimer that I am not a doctor: be cautious about plication. I believe having had plication would make you ineligible for the phrenic nerve repair surgery that Dr Kaufman does.

      As to how Dr Kaufman qualifies you, I think that’s best left to him and his team. If you need contact info, let me know.

      Best of luck to you.

      • Gary Severson Says:

        I have a left hemi-diaphragm paralysis as of last April. Have had many tests but am frustrated & found this blog tonight. Could I please have Dr.kaufman’s contact info. Thanks, Gary Severson Mpls

      • genemanhart Says:

        Gary, I had bilateral diaphragm paralysis when my condition first appeared. After 15 months my right side diaphragm returned to normal but its been 3 years and my left side is still paralyzed. I suppose recovery depends on the damage to the nerves but you are still are in the window of possible recovery. My paralysis was caused by a simple virus and fever and apparently my right side nerve was not as damaged.

  95. James Says:

    scrozier – Thank you so much. You are loud and clear regarding the disclaimer. I am on notice. And, I am cautious about plication. I have found Dr. Matthew Kaufman’s name and number at the appropriate hospital. I assume that is all I need to get the ball somewhat rolling. (Correct me if I am wrong if and when you get time.) I’ve read all you have written herein, and all who have made entries. It is wonderful dialogue for someone who has come on to this, on or about the first week of June, 2015. thks…

    • catpowered Says:

      I have found that the sooner the better to address this. From the ones I have talked to the success rate is better in the first six to nine month than a year out. I didn’t have a great experience but many have been pleased as it is the only thing besides waiting you can really do to make improvement. Good luck.

    • scrozier Says:

      James, I sent you Dr Kaufman’s contact info by private email. It’s actually the contact info for the person who coordinates his patients for this condition.

      It’s probably worth reiterating that the vast majority of doctors, including pulmonologists, are unaware of the possibility of phrenic nerve repair. It’s interesting that no one has ever said, “nerve” to you. If you’ve had a diagnosis of paralyzed hemi-diaphragm, then phrenic nerve malfunction is the only cause I know of. (But again, I’m no doctor!)

  96. Tony Segreto Says:

    Thank You for the research tips,I have muscle wasting of the diaphram from ALS.

  97. terry selb Says:

    I was recently diagnosed with 100% paralyzed left diaphragm (idiopathic) and I asked my Pulmonary local Los Angeles Doctor with 40+ years in practice) about Dr. Kaufman he shrugged and asked” Why would you ever want a plastic surgeon to perform neuralgic surgery one you?”. I thought that was kind of a good question.
    On the other hand, I am like all of the other bloggers on here….the doctors say” learn to live with it”. Well as all of the preceding posters noted, its pretty miserable.
    Judging from the posts I have read here, it sounds like Dr. Kaufman’s patients have had mixed results. Its really difficult to know what to do.

    • scrozier Says:

      Terry, I’m no expert, but I think plastic surgeons do a lot of nerve repair. Part of the nature of their work. Also, Dr Kaufman has specialized in this particular surgery. I did a lot of looking and talking to neurosurgeons and none of them were interested or even thought it was possible.

      Though my clinical recovery has not been thrilling yet, the nerve repair itself seems to have been completely successful.

      I would ask Dr Kaufman what his current thinking is. What have his results been, now that he has quite a few under his belt? I know that his team did some results surveys.

    • Brenda Jordan Says:

      Terry Selb
      Hi Terry
      I too was diagnosed with left phrenic nerve paralysis in June. It is a devastating diagnosis and like you said, changes your life dramatically.
      Question: have you figured out what possibly caused your paralysis? I believe mine was caused by a nerve block given for shoulder surgery. I can’t prove it but it’s my belief.
      I have hesitated to have surgery also because not that many surgeries have been done. In addition, I do not know the true prognosis of the patients who have had surgery. This is major surgery, not day surgery. I want more information and have 100% reliable results of patients who have had the surgery.
      Brenda Jordan

    • Brenda Jordan Says:

      I know exactly how you feel and none of my doctors know anything about this issue and frankly don’t seem to want to discuss it…. Everyone here understands that I am sure. I wish there were more doctors doing this type of surgery and I wish they were educated in the subject. My pulmonologist said, “It won’t kill you” but I am not sure that’s true. I think it could have such an effect on other organs that it could cause major health issues and certainly affect longevity.
      Does anyone have those kind of answers? I have been to a neurologist, a neuro surgeon, spine surgeon, pulmonologist, internal medicine dr and none really answered my questions and only pulmonologist was familiar at all with the PPN.

      • scrozier Says:

        Brenda, I happen to be married to a doctor (pediatrician). Her only health concern, other than the obvious one of reduced lung capacity, was the possibility of pneumonia, due to the diaphragm impinging on the lower lung. I addressed this with my pulmonologist; he gave me a rigged-up device to force air into my lungs, hopefully expanding the lung and keeping it free from fluid build-up.

  98. terry selb Says:

    My biggest fear is a false sense of hope. This has been a truly life altering problem that I have been learning to cope with and accept as a part of my life for the past 3 months. I am no spring chicken (65) but otherwise my health is great and I was leading a very active life. But I do find all of these posts to be EXTREMELY interesting. As you know, this is a rare disorder and there isn’t a whole lot out there on this.

    • catpowered Says:

      I found that what Dr Kaufman considers a success is a bit disturbing. After surgery if you feel better its documented as a success. Many factors go into why you’d feel better without the diaphragm working. Breathing techniques they ask you at certain retrain centers to open up the air space more can make you feel better. He considers that success. You can do that without the surgery. I had the surgery and had a horrible, life threatening experience. I survived thank goodness. Another gentlemen I went to therapy with that was Dr K’s patient got his surgery done 4-6 months from his onset. His diaphragm was moving at a better than 50% motion or say capacity than after his onset from what would be considered normal. I’d think the surgery to free up the nerve helped. I think Dr also wants to install electrodes on the diaphragm now during surgery to assist in recovery with a pacer. He offered that to me a year out from surgery but I honestly can’t take much more. I now have multiple herniated discs from the spine now being curved to my left from the good diaphragm pulling that I need far more than more air now. I’m 46 and trying to get things paid off so I cam relax and enjoy life.

  99. Robert Senatore Says:

    I just passed the two year anniversary of my surgery by Dr. Kaufman. I still have minimal use of my left diaphragm , therefore very little function of my left lung. I used to run marathons. I now cannot run a mile without stopping. i have developed a run/walk technique that enables me to do 4 mile races. My finishing times for these races went from 30-32 minutes before the illness to 48 minutes post surgery. I do the races now for enjoyment and nothing more. I am 64 years old and this illness is the worst part of my life. Improvement in my breathing is still possible so I am thankful for the surgery and have told this to Dr. Kaufman. I send him periodic progress reports. Good luck to all who suffer from this situation , don’t give up and don’t accept ” just live with it” as the final answer.

    • terry selb Says:

      I think the mere fact that you can run/walk ANY significant distance is amazing. I note that you state that you have “minimal use of left diaphragm”. Is this minimal use a direct result of the surgery by Dr. Kaufman or was this minimal use part of your original diagnosis?

  100. Dee Says:

    i had the surgery just over a year ago. There is no cause that we know of except for a wreck I was in 2006. Not my fault by the way 16 year old kid ran a red light. Anyway I just turned 65 and use to be an avid hiker.. All of that is over… but like others there is improvement compared to my hiking pre- surgery. My wife and I have hiked up to 12 miles but with very little elevation gains. HILLS or mountains are killers for me…I too do not regret my surgery. My wife says she can tell I am breathing better..yes it is depressing and yes it changes your life and yes in many cases someone else caused your illness. But I ask , what choice do you have..
    curl up in a ball and do nothing or deal with the cards you now have and move on….LIFE IS TOO SHORT.. I HAVE CHOSEN TO MOVE ON…

    • Brenda Jordan Says:

      I am curious. Of those of you who have had surgery by Dr Kaufman, how many were covered by insurance?
      Thank you.

      • catpowered Says:

        Mine was for the most part. Remember to check with and about Dr Kaufman. Ask who his backup, assistant will be. They charge you double Dr Kaufmans fee by the way. They don’t tell you that. You will also have a charge for the graft being pulled from the ankle. Anesthesia was another Dr. The hospital is also a separate entity. I used his staff to assist in my checks for coverage. I was to,d all is good then had to quarrel with the hospital about their charges not being covered. All in all I was out of pocket about 5000. I had complications which I believe led to some fees being waived. I was billed between the above I spoke of:
        Dr K 69000
        Dr Elkwood 59000 ( I never met him by the way)
        Jersey Shore Nedical Center 29000
        Dr Valkery 8000 (spelling?)

        Dr K promised you’d pay no more than 10000 out of pocket. Remember that is to him. Others you may owe. Mine worked out ok. My monies were out to the Anesthisia Dr for about 4500, that was my largest payout other than travel expenses. I’ve talked to one guy who paid over 20000 to all and another who had zero in the end.

        Do your research. Get things in writing. Don’t accept those vague statement letters from your insurance that say your covered then there is the fine print saying but we may still not pay.

      • scrozier Says:

        My surgery was largely covered by insurance. I paid some thousands of dollars of deductibles, copays, etc. Maybe around $5000?

      • Dee Says:

        we had to meet out of pocket for in network. and of out of pocket for out of network…. wonder who decides this… the insurance company so they have to pay less and you more.. we were out approx 10000

  101. Tom Maddalla Vero Beach, Florida Says:

    Mine also was covered by Medicare and my Insurance.Mine was caused by a needle prick to the frenic nerve during surgery by the anesthesiologist for a rotator cuff repair. To be fair the anesthesia procedure is a Blind procedure, and they can not see exactly where the nerve is when they do the procedure, Thus that is why many of us are here. It isn’t worth it to point the finger, or call names so i Just gave him a big hug and told him to refer his Unfortunate patients to Dr.Kaufman and his Wonderful teem ,Whom I might add that most doctors are still not aware of this Wonderful procedure.

    • scrozier Says:

      Gotta say, Tom, I love your attitude! Not sure I could have been so forgiving, but I’d like to think I could.

      • Dee Says:

        I too would hv a problem being so forgiving.Two primary reasons. Rotator cup surgery is very common today, I have a lot of friends that have had the procedure with no issues ..and number two is the reason anesthesiologist get paid the big and I MEAN BIG BUCKS is not to make mistakes… All of us might feel different if we had to pay a LOT of money our of our pockets.

  102. Rob Senatore Says:

    My surgery was partially covered by my insurance. But , the many out of network procedures from doctors not in my network were mostly paid by me. I discovered that when the insurance company say’s you are pre approved for surgery , procedures, hospital stay etc. it does not mean they will pay the amounts that are submitted after the fact. I reached a point where everyday for months when I got home and opened my mailbox there was some sort of medical bill. After awhile I sat down on my living room floor and just sorted thru all these bills. Total bill for all the tests and surgery and hospital
    stay came close to $ 125,000. My insurance paid close to $ 50,000.
    Out of the difference I was responsible for around $ 10, 000. Just happy not to come home and find bills in my mailbox everyday.

    • Brenda Jordan Says:

      Thank you so much for all the indebth information about all the expenses for surgery and how its all broken down.
      That is great information to know. And to know the particular questions to ask. Thanks for taking the time to relay all this information. I really appreciate it.
      Brenda Jordan

  103. Dee Says:

    agreed on empty mail box. my total bills were closer to 200000

    • Brenda Jordan Says:

      Thank you to all who answered my questions about the cost of the phrenic nerve surgery. I appreciate very much each of you taking time to respond.
      Tom, it sounds like you have had the surgery and it was successful. Is that correct? How long after you were diagnosed with PPN did you have the surgery?
      Tom, I think its great that you are so forgiving. However, it is not a blind guess. They used an ultrasound to put the catheter in my neck for the nerve block. It was there for two days and nights as I went home with a bulb of Litocaine around my neck that went in automatically at programmed intervals. If I was having major pain, I could squeeze the bulb to get a bigger dose. I think that is not safe because the catheter is so close to the phrenic nerve…..
      My issue is this: had I known that there could be even a 1% chance that this could happen, I would NEVER have let them do the block. It’s for pain control I know. But give me pain for a couple of weeks I will deal with it even though its very painful. I would much rather have that than a paralyzed phrenic nerve. Just my own personal opinion, of course. I don’t think they should use the nerve block at all.
      I think its wonderful that some of you have had success with the surgery. It must be such a wonderful relief. I keep praying for healing. I have been told that since mine was caused from the nerve block there is a chance it can heal but it could take over a year.

      • catpowered Says:

        Brenda I would suggest that if you’re serious about the surgery the only person I know that actually had a success with the diaphragm moving post the gentleman was the quickest to the surgery table from diagnosis. The doctors tend to ask you to wait at least six months but up to year and everyone that I talk to that it waited that long did not have success. Even though I had a horrible outcome I think if I had to do it again I would’ve done it much sooner. My surgery was 12 1/2 months post on set. My onset was idiopathic I woke up one morning with the most horrible pain in my neck and shoulder I’d ever had and it lasted for days. The breathing over the first two weeks got progressively worse to where I couldn’t even hardly walk 50 feet without stopping.

      • Tom Maddalla Vero Beach, Florida Says:

        Hi Steve : To answer your question, I was in distress trying to walk three hundred feet without stopping to get myself ready for the trip back. The shoulder surgery was a year and a half earlier and I could not get a straight answer from the lung doctor. She told me it must bee C.O.P.D., and gave me lung exercises to strengthen the Lung.She said [You Will Just Have To Live With It.] My right Forearm and small finger seemed to be numming and the finger seemed to curl into the hand. My wife was searching the internet for answers and found Dr.Kaufman,s site and made the call. Dr. Kaufman sent a Script to get the Sniff Test to see if the diaphragm was moving,and sure enough It was barely moving.Two weeks later we were in New Jersey for the surgery. We also looked into Plycation and even electronic stimulation of the diaphragm —[Pacemaker] But it was a no brainer, and we went with Dr. Kaufman. It seemed to me that I could breathe better right after surgery, and he said the latest sniff test after the surgery showed a 50% improvement it still took three years to a full recovery. The diaphragm is back to full recovery. The Lung has Re-Inflated and the stomach has moved back down where it is supposed to be, as it moved into the empty space ware the lung was. Hope I answered your question, and if anyone else needs to ask a question, I will always be available here for them to get the answers they need.

      • scrozier Says:

        Tom, that’s great. Sounds like a textbook case of how this is supposed to work. I’m not 3 years out from surgery yet, so you give me hope!

  104. terry selb Says:

    I again want to say that this little “mini community” on this blog is of tremendous help to me. Its reassuring to know that I am not the only one stuck with this disorder.
    Catpower, your statement that you only know of one person who actually had the diaphragm moving post Dr K surgery is disturbingly interesting to me.
    Has anyone been to an actual neurosurgeon for this problem? I would think that if there is a surgical neuropathic solution that this is the person you would see, yet I can’t find ANYTHING that supports this notion. Does anyone know?

    • scrozier Says:

      Terry, as luck would have it, two of my close friends are neurosurgeons. One of them, Dale Swift, gained some international fame for separating two boys from Egypt, conjoined at the head, several years ago. The other is the Chair of Neurological Surgery at UT Southwestern. Which is simply to say that these two surgeons are at the top of their field. I discussed my situation with both. Both said, “we can’t repair the phrenic nerve.” They referred me to a plastic surgeon and a general surgeon, the latter for consultation about plication.

      So, it seems that this just isn’t in the realm of neurosurgery.

      • terry selb Says:

        Thanks for your helpful response. I think that answers why I can’t find anything from neurosurgeons. Just so I understand, were they the ones who actually referred you to the plastic surgeon discussed in this forum?

      • scrozier Says:

        Terry, no, they did not refer me to Dr Kaufman. My original blog post here explains how I found Dr Kaufman. They referred me to a local plastic surgeon, who was quite helpful.

    • catpowered Says:

      I have spoke to three people. Met another. Emailed another. Only the one I met has movement.

      Again a diaphragm retrain specialist does you as much good if you’re downstream. Eli Lopes in Indianapolis is great. She is a branch off of Mary Massery in Chicago. These gals are great and gave me more help and relief than the surgery.

  105. Dee Says:

    Tom ,, thanks for your comments.. since I am only a year out from post surgery I HAVE RENEWED HOPE…. I am also a very impatient person, wanting to hike mountains again instead of accepting hills. I hv had stomach issues such as bloating etc and my gastro doctor can find nothing wrong.. so maybe all relates to my diaphragm? I did hike down the grand canyon and out with one lung….. did not know about my diaphragm issue at the time… so no telling what the future may hold…

  106. Dee Says:

    by the way i found Dr Kaufman on the internet. My lung doctor told me to live with it.. and said lots of people live with the problem.. he also told me I had copd , my family doctor thought I had allergies, etc

  107. Tom Maddalla Vero Beach, Florida Says:

    Sorry Brenda, I thought it was Steve’s question! One more thing i didn’t answer was being forgiving. An Attorney said you can’t sue unless he left a monkey wrench in there, or something like that. So ya can’t sue em but you can kill them with LOVE and give them a HUG and that tells them they need to go back to school or better there AIM. Ha Ha and I won’t let hate drag me down. I’m enjoying whats left of my New Life. PS: Do you know anyone who can make teeth grow back? Just a thought Ha Ha Tom

    • Brenda Jordan Says:

      Thank you for all the information about your shoulder surgery, PPN surgery, etc. it’s great information.
      another question: was your phrenic nerve paralyzed immediately after shoulder surgery or did it come On Slowly? Mine was over a period of 6 months.
      No way do I hate my shoulder surgeon…. I just think they should reconsider doing a nerve block for any kind of surgery. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.
      It is WONDERFUL that you are fully healed!! I am sincerely very happy for you.
      If you think of anything else that I need to know please share.
      Thanks PPN community. You are a comfort.

  108. terry selb Says:

    Dee, I can tell you from my own personal experience that the “bloating” you are referring to is almost certainly from the lung issue. I never had that problem until this lung issue emerged. Now, I get that awful bloated feeling everyday in the later afternoon and it tends to linger into the early evening hours then it sort of disappears..until the next day.

  109. Tom Maddalla Vero Beach, Florida Says:

    Terry: I had a same experience of bloating, and I’m not a doctor but I realized that when the lung collapses the stomach wants to go and fill that space as did mine.That would give you the feeling you described. Also I could not go into my pool above my chest as i could not breath. The pressure of the water was painful. Eventually this will subside , but it will take time. Exercise and swimming did help a lot but time is the healer. Just smile and get moving. Ha Ha Stay in touch. Tom

    • Brenda Jordan Says:

      Śteve Scrozier
      What is the name of the device that your pulmonologist rigged up for you to force air into your lungs? I would certainly pursue that with my pulmonologist.
      Thank you for responding!

      • scrozier Says:

        Brenda, since it’s rigged up, I don’t think it has a name. It’s just an Ambu Bag with a flexible connector and a mouthpiece attached. You put the mouthpiece in your mouth and squeeze the Ambu Bag (carefully) to inflate your lungs. Obviously, you should talk to your pulmonologist about it.

      • Brenda Jordan Says:

        Thanks so much Steve. I will certainly see my pulmonologist about this.
        I am so thankful for all the long hard hours/weeks/months/years you have put into this website!! I would not have any idea or understanding about my PPN if wasn’t for you and those who post here…..and I would feel much more alone. My family and friends are sympathetic but they truly do not understand what it feels like. You have to experience it to know. Folks on here certainly know…..
        Truly Appreciate all the information and experiences of people on here.
        Thank you.

  110. Tom Maddalla Vero Beach, Florida Says:

    Hay guys and gals : I was just thinking back to just after my shoulder surgery, Maybe a few days later, i remember getting the worst case of Hick-ups. Mostly in bed or in the recliner chair. We always believed that was when the frenetic nerve was starting to fail. Just a thought, Did anyone else remember anything like that.

    • Brenda Jordan Says:

      Mine came on slowly over a 5-6 month period after my shoulder surgery. I started getting a cough and feeling short of breath on exertion……
      Did you feel short of breath right after getting the hiccups really bad?

      • catpowered Says:

        OK this is kind of crazy. Probably from the onset of the pain I was having in my neck and shoulder about the second or third day after the onset I had a huge I’m mean a huge hiccup very painful. I had taken a bite to eat and suddenly that happened. That was very odd but I kind of feel like that was the last time that my diaphragm on the right side actually had a big movement. Another thing that’s very odd I used to have a irregular heartbeat. Skip beats. Once the right Phrenic nerve paralysis took fact that is no longer happening. I’ll put it this way if it happens it is like less than 5% of the time in regards to frequency beforehand. Used to be something that would happen multiple times a day. The right Phrenic nerve has something to do with the sensory and feeling of the pericardium around the heart. Kind of interesting. .

  111. Molly Jesberger Says:

    Hi everyone! My name is Molly and I’m just a 54 year old wife/mother/grandmother from Ohio who wants her life back!! I found this blog about 3 months ago and have been following it closely since. I can’t tell you how it’s helped me! Thank you scrozier and all who have commented and given advice. It has given me hope, and we all know on here how important hope is in our situations. My situation is different in that my right hemi diaphragm paralysis/collapsed right lower lobe is due to my total hysterectomy done on June 1, 2015. They are certain that somehow, the surgery is when it happened because I had a normal pre op cxr one week before surgery and 1 week after surgery I had excruciating neck/shoulder pain and immediate shortness of breath. the pain subsided but the sob did not. A cxr showed my raised diaphragm and atelectasis. They think it may have been due to positioning and inflammation around my phrenic nerve. I am currently on a bi pap machine at night because my oxygen levels were dropping below 80 for several hours at night. This has affected every aspect of my life as I’m sure you can all relate. Long story short…this blog led me to Dr. Kaufman. I have had my phone consult with him and he says I am a candidate for the surgery but he wants me to wait the 6 months. My problem is, that all of my insurance co pays, deductibles and out of pocket expenses are paid for the year and I would really like to have the surgery before the new year. I also have read that the sooner the surgery, the better the results. He has agreed that I can have another
    sniff test in early November (that will be 5 months since the injury) and if there is no change, we will move forward. I guess my question (although I have many more!) is how long did it take to have the surgery once you begin the process? I know it can take time to preauthorize with insurance and there are so many other details to work out..Am I being unrealistic to think it could be arranged before the end of the year? I would greatly appreciate any and all advice!

    • scrozier Says:

      Molly, I have no idea what Dr K’s schedule is like, but as to other issues, I think getting in before the end of the year is realistic. Best of luck to you.

      • Molly Jesberger Says:

        Thank you Steve! Mind if I ask where you stayed while you were there and for how long? My husband and I were thinking it would be smart to stay in a rental apartment so we could eat in more. Trying to keep costs down as much as possible. I’ve been pricing and it’s comparable to hotels, but many of them only do monthly rentals in the winter.

  112. scrozier Says:

    Molly, as I recall, we were in the NJ area for about a week. Dr K’s office had recommended a hotel (Extended Stay Suites? Homewood Suites? I don’t remember). It was not great, but it was relatively convenient. I actually don’t remember staying there but a few days. I think we may have travelled to visit some friends and family in the area, once I felt like doing that. I’ll check with my wife when she gets home, as she is in charge of the memory in our relationship.

    • catpowered Says:

      We stayed at a Residence Inn in Tintan Falls. It was ok. Breakfast was free but not great food. Had a fridge so we shopped and stocked up. Stayed a week. 9-18-13 to 9-25-13. About 1200 bucks I think. Rented a Toyota Venza for 500 for the week. Flew from Indianapolis to Newark round trip 350 each times two. If you’d like to talk I would be glad to. I didn’t have a good result but some people have.

      • Molly Jesberger Says:

        Catpowered, thanks for the info! Seems like flights have come down some since you went. I’ve been pricing for December and have found them as low as $175 pp r/t from Cleveland to Newark! I’ve read literally every post on here so I saw that your experience wasn’t great..I’m so sorry you went through all of that. None of us wanted or expected to be dealing with this anomaly of a complication and for you to have to deal with all of that on top of it is just so unfair..I’m cautiously optimistic going into this surgery mostly because it’s only been 4 months since the injury and from what I’ve read, that is a good thing. My hysterectomy was the first surgery I’ve ever had and I ended up with a paralyzed diaphragm, so of course I’m nervous but I feel it’s my only option to feel better. I know I’ll have many more questions through this process and so appreciate everyone’s willingness to help.

    • Molly Jesberger Says:

      Thanks Steve. I understand all about that! I am in charge of memory at my house too!!

  113. Michelle Fall Says:

    I am so thankful for this site. Reading through the comments has helped me significantly. As much as it saddens me to say it, I’m glad to know that I am not alone in this nightmare. I went in on 9/30/15 for Thoracic Outlet Surgery on my left side. When I woke up in recovery the surgeon notified me that he accidentally cut my phrenic nerve because he was closing the scissors as he was going back in and unfortunately closed them on my nerve. I understand that there is a chance of damage like stretching since that area is so small, but I never thought the surgeon would cut it because he couldn’t control his scissors. I have been working with a pulmonologist and just got back my results from my PFT and according to the pulmonologist they are terrible. I have an appointment in the morning to find out what the next steps are to at least manage the day to day. I am also on oxygen at night because I was suffering from severe headaches after waking up in the morning. This has taken it’s toll on my life and my family. As a 34 year old and fairly active women I am trying to get my life back. After reading a ton of information online, I am led to believe that things should not be as bad as they are since I’m only dealing with unilateral paralysis and not bilateral. Depending on how my appointment goes tomorrow, I may be making a call to Dr. Kaufman. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories, it helps to know that we are not alone and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    • scrozier Says:

      Michelle, I’m so sorry to hear your story. If there’s a tiny silver lining, at least you know exactly where the nerve was cut and exactly when. That may help your prognosis with Dr Kaufman. Many of us here have little idea when and how our injury happened. Best of luck to you.

      • catpowered Says:

        Steve is right on this Michelle. If you know where the injury has occurred get to Dr. Kaufman as quick as possible to get this fixed. The sooner the better and you will have to push.

      • Michelle Fall Says:

        I am thankful that my surgeon was very upfront about the mistake as well. I will make sure to reach out to Dr. Kaufman ASAP!

  114. Thomas Maddalla Says:

    OMG…………. Don’t wait another minute ! Mine was a needle stick during a nerve block Procedure for shoulder surgery and I did not know why I could not breathe for a year and a half. Doctors kept calling it C.O.P.D. until we found Dr. Kaufman on this blog. You have to realize that 99% of doctors have never herd of this procedure, as it is a New procedure of intervention for Nerve damage. They were not taut this in medical school,Your Diaphragm is now not being told to make your lung work.Please don’t wait another minute Call Dr. Kaufman…..Yesterday Good Luck

  115. Judy Says:

    Michelle I am so sorry this happened to you. My injury was also a surgical accident during thoracic spinal surgery. I am the one who figured out it was the phrenic nerve. I had many pulmonologists waste my time with testing trying to determine what was wrong. the surgeon never came to the hospital to see me after the surgery. He didn’t even acknowledge anything had occurred. I stopped breathing in the recovery room and was put on a ventilator and then to intensive care. the surgeon left a message on my phone saying everything went fine!! He wasn’t even able to finish the fusions do to my lung !!
    I really think you are in the perfect position to contact drKaufman and get this fixed. Good luck to you

  116. Molly Jesberger Says:

    Michelle, I’m so sorry that this happened to you. I too have read many, many articles on this subject and until I found this blog all I ever read was that unilateral diaphragmatic paralysis rarely has symptoms that affect daily life and that no treatment is usually required or needed. I thought it was just me and I would have to live like this for the rest of my life. The wheels are in motion now and I have a surgery date with Dr. Kaufman on December 1st. We are in the process of working out insurance details right now but I am so thankful that SOMETHING is being done to hopefully get my life back. It’s my ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. Good luck to you..

    • Michelle Fall Says:

      I am so excited for you and wish you the best of luck in your recovery. I have a sniff test scheduled for tomorrow morning so after that, I will be reaching out to Dr. Kaufman’s office. I had a bipap machine installed last night so hopefully I will be able to get some sleep once I get used to it. I am so thankful for all of the helpful comments everyone has left, what an amazing community that has been created here.

  117. David Stuart Says:

    Hello all. I’m a 33 year old with a right paralyzed diaphragm. I’m also a new father and I’m terribly concerned about not being able to interact with my son (games, sports, etc) as he grows up. He just had his first birthday. It’s trying holding him and walking around carrying him. I’m very tired of the “learn to live with it” I’ve gotten from so many doctors. I’ve been in touch with Dr Kaufman’s office and hope that I’ll become a candidate. I still require an additional sniff test but I’m having a hard time getting any doc to order it. There’s no known source to my injury but I suspect it came from the chiropractor a few years back. Just thought I’d let you all know there’s another person out here with a hemi-paralyzed diaphragm.

    David Stuart
    Harrisonburg, Virginia

    • catpowered Says:

      Hi Sir. You’re not alone. I’m right side as well. Had the surgery on September 2013. If you get ahold of Dr Kaufmans office he will fax you an order for a sniff test. Yes it’s hard to love with it. I am three years since diagnosis. I’m now 46. I can not carry my two year old grand daughter 50 feet without handing her off or stopping. It’s tough. I hear you. Good luck my friend.

      • Judy Says:

        Hi I am in touch with DrKaufman’s office once again. the problem I am having is getting someone to do a diaphragm EMG here in southern ca. I did get a call back from Stanford in the bay area and they do them. So I have to get my referral there . There is one hospital in socal that does them, maybe, but they never answer their phone, I have left messages but no return call yet. Anyone else had that test done and if so where? Thanks

      • scrozier Says:

        I flew to NJ to have the test and meet with Dr K at the same time. Worked out pretty well, plus the advantage that the neurologist (or whatever he is) knows what Dr K is looking for.

      • catpowered Says:

        Same here. Flew to New Jersey on a Wednesday had the test and had surgery on Friday.

        I’m surprised there’s not something very close to UCLA. Dr. K performs the surgery out there now also. You might call his office and talk to Gina or Heather.

      • Judy Sewell Says:

        Molly it has been very frustrating. I was on his schedule last Jan for surgery at UCLA and had to cancel it in Dec because I didn’t get the EMG and could not find anyone to do it. Then I had a lot of reconstructive spine surgery this summer . Still no improvement in lung capacity, before the surgery I spent 6 months hiking trying to build up something,but it didn’t do anything either. Good luck with your surgery Molly

      • Molly Jesberger Says:

        My surgery is Tuesday, Dec 1st. We will be driving to NJ the day after Thanksgiving and I have 3 appointments on Monday. Dr. Kaufman, a physical therapy evaluation and then the neurologist for my EMG. The 2 appointments after Dr. Kaufman are at JFK Medical Center. I agree that you should talk to Gina or Heather to see if there is someone near UCLA that Dr. Kaufman works with.

      • David Stuart Says:

        I tried but I’m told he didn’t have a license to practice in Virginia do he can’t prescribe it for me.

      • catpowered Says:

        That is very odd. He has written all kinds of things for me in Indiana and when I checked his licensing before I had surgery he did not have any license in Indiana. He was good in New York, New Jersey, and California. I believe Ohio has been added since. I’m not telling you what to do but you just might double check that. The only thing he could not do for me once I got home was prescribed any narcotics. I had a horrible infection in my neck and foot after the surgery which almost took my life to be honest. I had a hell of a time getting anyone at home to help me because the surgery being as where is what it was no one wanted to touch me with a 10 foot pole. I finally got Dr. K to talk to doctors at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis where I had been admitted and things finally got going from that point but it was a bout three weeks after the surgery. The infection set in on about day 12 to 14. Since the surgery in September 2013 he has prescribed to rehab stints at IU med center in Indianapolis and to sniff test at IU health in Bloomington. All in Indiana.

    • Molly Jesberger Says:

      Hi David. Yes, you are definitely not alone! I do daycare at my home and have a 2 year old granddaughter (and one on the way). Needless to say, I’ve had to cut way back on kids that I watch and limit to toddlers and up that don’t require as much lifting/carrying. One of my most frustrating moments was when my granddaughter was scared and upset and when I tried to carry her to where she felt safe, I could barely breathe. This has literally affected every aspect of my life and it is very frustrating to be told that ‘you have to live with it’. I’ve had to do all of my own research and thank God I found this blog! Luckily, my pulmonologist and primary doc have both been very receptive and helpful in ordering tests and faxing them to Dr. Kaufman. I had my 2nd sniff test yesterday and it showed no change so I will be having surgery with Dr. Kaufman on December 1st. I’m glad the waiting is over and I am very hopeful for even a partial recovery. I wish you luck and hope that he can help you too.

      • David Stuart Says:

        I’m still working. No doctor is prescribing me one. I may be able to get an ultrasound to verify. I’m going Dr k will accept this. I’m waiting to hear back. It’s unnecessary apparently since I’ve had a SNIFF verifying it already. They don’t want to give extra radiation and fluoroscopy is a heavy dose

      • catpowered Says:

        I am afraid that I glow. Four fluoroscopy’s, four x-rays, two CT scans.

  118. spearman3004 Says:

    I have a left hemi-diaphragm paralysis as of last April. My hunch is a Cervical sprain from 45 yrs ago has finally been impacted in top vertebrae. I have been undergoing tests for the last 3 mths having eliminated everything in terms of other diseases. Found this blog tonight, thank God. Could I please have Dr. Kaufman’s contact info?Thank you so much for doing this research for us.

    • catpowered Says:

      Hang in there it will get better. Go on the Internet to http://www.advanced Find all of his information there yet on the phone and make some calls and get it arranged to go out and have a chat with him.

  119. scrozier Says:

    spearman, glad you found us. I have a number for Dr Kaufman, but I think catpowered’s info will get you there. (Obviously, taked out the spaces in advancedreconstruction that mysteriously got stuck in there.)

    catpowered, I had not visited that web site for a long time, and was surprised to see that Dr K now does a diaphragm muscle replacement surgery. Very interesting.

  120. Rob Senatore Says:

    I just recently saw that diaphragm muscle replacement surgery listed on Dr K’s site. My pulmonary doctor and Dr. Brown the neurologist both think if the nerve is not working adequately then the diaphragm muscle still will not work sufficiently . In my case the nerve is not sending strong signals to my diaphragm. I am surviving as is and setting smaller goals on my physical fitness routines. Still not giving up. I am in 2nd -3rd year period since surgery.

    • scrozier Says:

      Rob, I had a nerve conduction test and it indicated that my nerve was working 100%…but I’m still not clinically improved very much. So the diaphragm surgery sounds interesting. Just not sure I’m up for what sounds like a major procedure….

      • Rob Senatore Says:

        Yes. I understand. I will not have the surgery because I see it as being too experimental. I have reinvented my body to fit my needs. I run/walk 4,5,6 miles at a time. I find that the adjustments I have made enable me to do normal things such as walking up flights of stairs or carrying groceries home , which were difficult tasks two years ago, are now doable with little discomfort. My cardiologist and my pulmonologist have suggested that I do everything I did before this illness- only to a lesser extreme. I am following that advice. I have taken on the goal of run/walking the 2016 Philadelphia Marathon. I have a year to train. I have run 6 marathons prior to my surgery, so I know what is necessary and what to expect. I am looking forward to this next year.

    • Juanita E James Says:
      Could this be happening that our bodies alignment is critical for our
      core muscles to hold our vital organs in place. Our nerves can only stretch the may the body was designed. Did our life styles in time do this. My son has bilateral paralysis, hes my only child. Fedelis Ins Co of NY
      refuses to send him to NJ to Dr.Kaufman hes machine dependent for breathing and has a trach now. hes been in the hospital Aug 27th and is still there.

      • Brenda Says:

        Juanita I am so very sorry about your son. I have an only child myself and can’t begin to imagine what you are going through. I wish there was something that could be done for your son. I will be praying for him and for you. God Bless And Keep you both in his care.
        I so wish there was a lot of research $$ being spent on this horrible health problem; to know the long term effects of what issues it causes to our body and other organs. Just to be able to talk to a doctor who knows what it is and that can actually carry on a conversation on the topic. There’s still so much unknown about it…. and If it weren’t for Steve Crozier we’d know little to nothing. I am very grateful that we can talk about what we are going through and share each other’s burdens.

  121. catpowered Says:

    OK I have something to run by all of you but I’m a little scared. I’ve known this for about five months but can’t seem to get any traction in regards to what the cause might be. I talked with my pulmonologist and also Dr. K and neither of them have ever heard of this in all of their years of experience and specialization. I was diagnosed with right diaphragm paralysis in September 2012 no known cause like many of us here. Went through The full gamut of testing….. In May of this year my brother who is about 22 months older than I am has been diagnosed with left side diaphragm paralysis. I have been assured that this isn’t something that hereditary to their knowledge. My concern is no one has ever went into the causes of this condition with great detail because it’s very rare. I have asked a few people but been very cautious about who I communicate with asking if they have heard of this as well and again the answer remains the same no one knows of anyone that even has a relative that has the same condition. It seems as this board has grown I want to trust everyone here. So my question to you is does anyone here have an idea or a relative or a brother that is fighting the same condition? I worry about my daughters, my son, my parents, my grandchild ….. If there something that can be worked toward preventing I want to know what it is we can do.

    • scrozier Says:

      Very interesting! No, no one in my family has it, to my knowledge. I was adopted as a child, so I don’t have access to all my relatives.

      Just curious: why are you scared to bring this up?

      • catpowered Says:

        Well because I don’t want to alarm people. I asked what the odds were of me and my brother both having the same condition and I don’t get an answer other then one in maybe a billion? It just seems extremely odd that no one else has on record of the doctors I’m dealing with which one happens to be the most renowned in the world at this point as to dealing with this condition knowing no one that has a relative with the same condition.

      • scrozier Says:

        I see, catpowered.

        This being such a rare condition, I’d say that a billion to one is being conservative. It’s very interesting. It is certainly tempting to suspect that there is something hereditary going on.

    • Molly Jesberger Says:

      I have a very large family (6 brothers and sisters) and no one else has had this that I am aware of. In fact, not one person that I have spoken to about my condition (except my pulmonologist who diagnosed me) has even ever heard of it! Crazy that your brother has it too..

  122. Judy Says:

    Thanks all for your info on your diaphraqgm EMG’s. I have been emailing Gina about this. I do hope I qualify for surgery. I am having a repeat sniff test tomorrow. Last years showed right side paralysis. Although the doctor mentioned the left side didn’t move to well either. It waws a very confusing report and seeing I could not find a doc to do the diaphragm EMG, I had to cancel the surgery for last Jan/\. Now his is coming to UCLA again in Feb. I hope I can get this test done in time. It is odd thatr no one near UCLA does it, I was told of one hospital in Irvine but so far I cannot get anyone to call me back and they do not answer the phone. I did find a few doctors in Stanford that do it so I did ask my pulmonologist to send my referral there. Everyone was telling me this one doc at Cedars
    Sinai did them. But he is who I waited to see last year he walked in the room and said I do not put needles in diaphragms. Someone finally asked him and he said he does not do it. So I may have a road trip to San Francisco.

    • Molly Jesberger Says:

      That must be so frustrating for you Judy. It will be 6 months for me at the time of my surgery and it can’t get here soon enough! I sure hope you can get the test so you can have the surgery in February.

      • Brenda Jordan Says:

        To those of you getting ready to have surgery, could you please post your updated post op information on this blog? I am very curious about what all you go through, how much pain you have after the surgery, recovery time, etc. I want to know as much as possible from the folks who really know–those of you on this blog who have had the surgery. It’s not like heart bypass surgery or knee replacement surgery, etc. This is a very rare and unusual condition so the stats for this type of surgery are not known. I am the type of person who wants to be educated as much as possible about any Recommended surgery.
        I wish those of you preparing for surgery the very best and I hope and pray the surgery is 100% successful and you can get back to living a normal life again. God Bless.
        Brenda Jordan

      • Molly Jesberger Says:

        Hi Brenda! I will certainly follow up on here after my surgery. I’m like you..I like to know as much as I can before going in. There hasn’t been much detailed discussion about the pre testing and surgery experience on here that I have seen. Mind you, it’s been a bit since I read all of the comments! I know catpowered had a rough post op complication but has still been very helpful in this blog offering advice. I, too would love to hear anyone who has had the surgery’s experience. I’m particularly curious about the EMG as I’ve read that there is a ‘needle into the diaphragm’ involved! And how big are the incisions for decompression (neck) and grafting (ankle). And again…I am so very thankful for this page! They say misery loves company but I truly wish everyone on here good health and happiness

      • Judy Says:

        I just had another sniff test today. the one I had last year is written so poorly no one could ever interpret it. One reason why last years surgery was cancelled. I had a great doctor today. He said he would have the doctor that did last years correct it. He found for sure that my right diaphragm is paralyzed, I am on my way

        Molly I had an EMG of my diaphragm in 2011. I didn’t find it painful or anything. My problem now has been finding a doctor to do that test here in Los Angeles. the doc that did it in 2011 is no longer working anywhere right now. Not sure if he is retiring.

      • Brenda Jordan Says:

        Molly thank you! I appreciate your willingness to share info after your surgery. I know you are curious about all the particulars too. I did have EMG nerve conduction study on my cervical area but the neurologist did test the phrenic nerve. I am not sure that he would have but that was not on the order. It wasn’t so painful until he got further up in my neck, but the good thing (like Steve stated) is that it doesn’t last but a few seconds and when they take the needle out the pain is gone. I hope you get more information on this blog about recovery time. Best wishes Molly! I hope you are an excellent candidate and you are completely healed. I will be praying for you.
        By the way I live in the Chattanooga area. I am curious about where fellow PPN bloggers are from. Maybe somewhere down the road we could try to meet in a central place. I have yet to actually meet someone with this health issue. To know there are people who totally understand what I am living with because no one could actually understand or imagine what this is like unless you live it…
        I am so glad to have the information on this blog and to know that there is hope.

      • scrozier Says:

        I have to be honest: my EMG (if that’s the right name for the needle in the diaphragm) was painful. However, once they take the needle out, it’s over. No residual pain. I went through it twice, and lived to tell the tale. (Not sure I’d volunteer for another one, though….)

      • Molly Jesberger Says:

        Thanks Judy and scrozier. Judy, the first sniff test I had, I swear the radiologist had never done one before! I was worried that the results wouldn’t be accurate. My second one the radiologist was extremely arrogant but appeared to know what he was doing and the results were the movement. Good luck finding someone to do your EMG! Scrozier, can I ask how long the needle is in? I’m sure it probably varies but I really want to know going in so I can prepare myself. Also, what about pain post op? I’m trying to gauge what my activity level will be when I get home with Christmas coming up!

      • scrozier Says:

        Molly, I don’t remember the needle particularly, but I assume it’s fairly long to reach the diaphragm. It’s not the needle poke that hurts…they could poke you repeatedly with the needle and you’d barely notice. It’s just an odd sensation when they get to the enervation site at the diaphragm.

        Post-op wasn’t too bad. I have a terrible memory, but I think they put me in a neck brace for a whiile. Maybe the whole week while I stayed in the area to see the doctor for follow-up. It’s more an annoyance than anything, I’d say. I think I took one pain-killer pill the whole time. Maybe plan on a few days of doing nothing, then another week of taking it easy, then you’re probably back to normal. Be sure to plan on staying in the area for a week (as I recall).

      • Judy Says:

        So far I seem to be the only one on here in the west . I would love to meet someone who has the same problem. I have had this since 2009 and never heard anyone with this problem.
        I do have another rare condition, I have panhypopituitarism. My pituitary gland stopped functioning around 2004. At least it was diagnosed then. I have to replace all pituitary hormones now. The list is long, one is a nightly injection, one is cortisol the stress hormone. If I don’t take that one several times a day I will die in a few days. But I actually met someone on line who has the same problem and found out he lives a half hour from me. My ex left me with my lung problem,the hormone problem and all my back surgeries, and his wife left him when his health went downhill. We are ablout the same age and are now dating, but it is so nice to havec someone with the same problems.

      • Molly Jesberger Says:

        Thanks Brenda! I’m in Northern Ohio between Toledo and Cleveland. It seems we are spread all over the country! So true about no one being able to understand how we feel. Even the doctors don’t really know what to tell us! It’s one of those illnesses that you don’t really look sick but you’re broken inside..My friends and family have been great but they just don’t get it. I’m just not myself anymore and that’s hard for them too…

  123. Brenda Jordan Says:

    I meant to say I DID NOT have the EMG nerve conduction study on my phrenic nerve. I left out the not! I have no clue why the email address came up in my message?

  124. Dee Says:

    I had the surgery in JUNE 2013 The emg was done up there in Edison NJ. Numerous shocks and one long needle but it was All worth it… my lung doctor in NC could NOT recommend anyone here to do a proper EMG. and we have two great hospitals, Duke and Baptist… finding someone to do a sniff test is not an issue,finding someone that can read a sniff test properly is next to impossible.

  125. Dee Says:

    oops 2014

  126. gmanhart Says:

    I was diagnosed with paralysis of my left diaphram due to phrenic nerve damage. I too have been told nothing can be done. I have always wanted to be in the best health and this has been depressing. Mr. Croizer you give me a glimmer of hope. Can you also send me an email with your surgeons contact information? I cannot thank you enough.

  127. gmanhart Says:

    I’ve had a paralyzed left diaphram caused by phrenic nerve damage for 3 years. I have learned to live with shortness of breath but I hate the uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. Has anyone else experienced the stomach issues and any solutions?

    • Dee Says:

      you will hear this from others… bloating is common also as your lung is not working or partially working, your stomach now tends to move into the area previously used by your lung…. sure there is a better medical term but that is part of the problem

      • scrozier Says:

        Early on in my diagnosis, my wife (who is a doctor) was concerned that my compromised lung would, at least partially, collapse–and therefore be susceptible to pneumonia. I discussed this with my pulmonologist, who gave me an Ambu-bag, fitted with a flexible connector and mouthpiece. I used it to force (carefully) air into my lungs, hopefully keeping the bad side expanded and free from pneumonia.

        Keeping in mind that I’m not a doctor, I wonder if it would be helpful for keeping your lung taking up that space near your stomach that your stomach may now be invading?

        Might check with your pulmonologist.

    • Judy Says:

      I do have stomach issues but never thought they could be related to this. I actually see my gastro doc on Monday and hopefully will remember to ask him about this.
      My other news is I finally got a call back from UC Irvine, which is only about an hour away from me they do the
      EMG of the diaphragm and are now scheduling the beginning of December. I called my pulmonologists office and had them send a referral there so hopefully by next week I will have an official date for that test. then I hopefully will get on Dr Kaufman’s schedule for Feb when he comes to southern California. It might just happen this time.

      • genemanhart Says:

        There have been others that have posted in this blog about stomach issues from the diaphragm paralysis. It makes sense. Your stomach has shifted up to fill the void left by the elevated left diaphragm. You might mention this to the gastrologist.

      • David Stuart Says:

        Hi Judy
        I’d be interested to know what your gastroenterologist said as mine didn’t pay me much mind when I saw him. Ironically the pulmonologist didn’t pay me much mind either and I have one of the best in the state (pulmo).

    • David Stuart Says:

      I definitely have abdominal issues

      • Dee Says:

        after the surgery , no discomfort but bloating continues…. can only hope that as lung comes back may take some territory back but not a lot of hope

      • Judy Says:

        I saw my gastro doc yesterday and he just said it may move to that area, but he didn’t think it was the cause of any of my problems. He just told me I will have my problems with GERD and abdominal pain for life

      • Dee Says:

        to give you pulmonologist told me that there was nothing I could do for a paralyzed diaphragm …that I had to live with it…. A LOT HE KNEW

      • Judy Says:

        I know any pulmonologist I went to told me the same thing, nothing to do about it. With the exception of one , who really pissed me off, he said can you vacuum? He thought it I could clean my house what more did I want. I was pretty mad at him , but it turned out to be a good thing, because I went home and researched diaphragm plication and that is when I found dRKaufman.

  128. Thomas Maddalla Says:

    I remember having the same feeling of bloating and discomfort. we searched hi and low and found that there was other options available. We looked into a plycation method to make an envelope of internal tissue to hold the stomach in place so it can’t migrate to the lung area. But it seemed to do little for the real reason of why the stomach was there in the first place. Another choice we had was to put a pacemaker into the upper chest area ,and wire it down to the diaphragm and send a shock signal to the diaphragm to inflate the lung. Not something that I would recommend unless there were no other options.However it maybe something that may help someone with no other options!!!! If someone does need more info on that option I would be happy to dig up that information for you. I’m not a doctor , However it was offered to me as a last resort.

  129. David Stuart Says:

    Did anyone have issues with extreme elevation of the diaphragm? Did it have any health effects?

    • scrozier Says:

      Mine was/is elevated, but not extremely.

      • David Stuart Says:

        My liver is raised in to my chest and is actually touching my heart. I’m really hoping I can get the necessary tests and see Dr Kaufman. Pulmonologist said it won’t kill me but it feels odd

      • Dee Says:

        never heard of the liver doing this with a paralyzed diaphragm but what the heck do I know.

      • David Stuart Says:

        Did anyone with elevation have it return back to its normal position? It was indeed my liver, I just came from the pulmonologist and he showed me the ct scan

    • Judy Says:

      David that is strange, I never heard of it or had it happen either. I am like scrozier mine is only slightly elevated at least by my last x-ray

      • catpowered Says:

        Mine is high severely right side. Liver up also. Liver is even with my nipple believe it or not. Been there three years….

      • Judy Says:

        Hi Everyone
        I am upset and confused. I had my sniff test last year and the doctor who did it and wrote the report made no sense. All doctors agree. I had one last week. I showed the doc the one from the previous year and he could not make sense of it either. So I had the test and he told me right there that my right side was paralyzed. Ok so today I pick up the report to send to Dr Kaufman. It now says as his impression: Bilaterally diminished diaphragmatic excursions right greater than left . No evidence of diaphragmatic paralysis. Last years wording was confusing, but his conclcusion was a paralyzed right hemidiaphragm. I am now thinking I won’t be able to qualify for surgery once again. My problem was from a spinal surgical accident in 2009. I was a trail runner the day before surgery and couldn’t make it to my bathroom in the hospital after without desaturating. I still cannot climb one flight of stairs without being our of breath. I am still waiting for my doctors office to send in the referral for the diaphragm EMG and I did find a local hospital to do it. I just now have no idea what it will show. I am just getting really depressed thinking I have to stay like this

      • David Stuart Says:

        I wouldn’t get so upset yet. I’d see what the emg has to say. Send both reports to Dr K and let him make sense of it

      • Judy Says:

        Thanks David, I’ve already been crying. I don’t know why he would have told me right after he finished the test that my right side was paralyzed then write a different report. My test was done on 11/11 and it says he reviewed it on 11/18, could he have forgotten?

      • David Stuart Says:

        Call the Dr tomorrow and have him explain himself and let him know that this diagnosis is very important and must be right. Remind him that he said it was paralyzed and that it was paralyzed before. Maybe he messed up. You have the right to inquire.

      • Judy Says:

        I would love to talk to him, I am not sure if I will be able to, but I will try and if not successful I will ask the pulmonologist to speak with him. The same stuff that happened last year and I ended up having to cancel the surgery. Then the pulmonologists try to say It was a condition I already had. They don’t understand I used to run miles and miles up in the mountains. I know my breathing changed with the surgery when I ended up on a respirator

      • David Stuart Says:

        It’s so unfortunate you’re in this position. Just don’t give up hope. It’ll all get figured out in the end. You undoubtedly lost function after your respirator. You don’t go from mountain running to breathlessness ascending stairs.

      • catpowered Says:

        Judy I may have missed something but what was the reasoning behind wearing a respirator? How often, how long?

      • Judy Says:

        David and Catpowered
        I was put on life support basically after the thoracic spine surgery, I stopped breathing in the recovery room. The surgeon had damaged my phrenic nerve and who knows what else, It was in 2009. I was only on the respirator for about 2 or 3 days in intensive care. Then on the floor I was just on oxygen, but the physical therapist refused to take me out of my room because I would desaturate quickly. I was out of breath just walking from my bed to the bathroom. the spine surgeon never came to see me, he said nothing happened. But he had kept inflating and deflating my lung. By the end of all that I had lots of plural effusions. Then sent to a cardio thoracic surgeon. My right lung was pancaked together and required something called decortication. Everyone thought I would be fine after that surgery but my lung capacity stayed the same at 50%. Now it goes down to 40 at times.

      • catpowered Says:

        Wow. Irresponsible surgeons. I have had two. Both very cocky and never would acknowledge their wrong doing. There should be better protection for the patient.

        I now have the curvature of the spine to the left at the T-12 to L-3 area. This is where the ligament for the left working diaphragm attaches. I really started working in my leather with exercise and brisk walking last winter. It wasn’t long to where I could hardly walk. Leg nerve pain. Numbness. Hip issues. My last sniff test was done. I got a copy which initially showed the right side still paralyzed. My PT Dr in Indianapolis took a look and said to me, my goodness there is your pain issue. The spine goes left with every breath. When you except ode and breathe harder it pulls farther. Had an MRI done and I have three herniations in that same region now. My physical therapist who is a specialist in regards to diaphragmatic retrain told me this was a common problem with diaphragm paralysis patients that is overlooked many times. Issue with it is nothing can really be done because there’s no balance between the left and right with the left being the one the pulls.

        This plus the Gastro issues. Plus no air many days…. It’s the gift that keeps on giving but I am alive.

      • Judy Says:

        My spine has been a horrible mess and my first surgery was in 2007 on my cervical spine . I have had herniations and everything else you can have in a spine. A few years ago I became so hunched over I looked like I was 95 ,my mom looked much better than me. I had to walk with a cane and was headed to a wheelchair. I had been in one for a while after one surgery. All of the screws the surgeon had put in my lumbar area all came out and were pulling on nerves . I couldn’t put my right foot down at all and barely my left. I would crawl up the stairs to the shower every few days when I could no longer stand my smell. I have had 14 surgeries on my spine. But the last 3 this summer were to straighten me out. I read the x-ray reports last week , they said I still have a curve , scoliosis in my lumbar spine and many fractures too, I guess they are there for life. But now I can stand up straight and no longer need a cane. I was just praying I could regain some lung function. I had got it in the 60’s at one point then the beginning of 2014 it was only 42%. I have really exercised and have made no improvement. That is when DR Kaufman told me to contaqct them again , if I tried and made no improvement. But now with a sniff test saying they are both weak, I don’t have a clue what is going on

      • catpowered Says:

        Hate that Judy. I’m lucky. My PFT showed 62% lung function before surgery with Dr. K. Not sure what it is now but I am not better.

      • catpowered Says:

        Wow. Irresponsible surgeons. I have had two. Both very cocky and never would acknowledge their wrong doing. There should be better protection for the patient.

        I now have the curvature of the spine to the left at the T-12 to L-3 area. This is where the ligament for the left working diaphragm attaches. I really started working on my health with exercise and brisk walking last winter. It wasn’t long to where I could hardly walk. Leg nerve pain. Numbness. Hip issues. My last sniff test was done. I got a copy which initially showed the right side still paralyzed. My PT Dr in Indianapolis took a look and said to me, my goodness there is your pain issue. The spine goes left with every breath. When you excert and breathe harder it pulls farther. Had an MRI done and I have three herniations in that same region now. My physical therapist who is a specialist in regards to diaphragmatic retrain told me this was a common problem with diaphragm paralysis patients that is overlooked many times. Issue with it is nothing can really be done because there’s no balance between the left and right with the left being the one the pulls.

        This plus the Gastro issues. Plus no air many days…. It’s the gift that keeps on giving but I am alive.

      • Brenda Says:

        I am So sorry to hear of all of your health issues Judy. I hope and pray Dr Kaufman can help you. It’s terrible the damage that is sometimes done to patients by doctors. Your story is horrific. I can’t imagine that many surgeries on your spine! Praying for you. XXX

  130. David Stuart Says:

    Mr. S, can you email me a picture of your makeshift ambubag, I’d greatly appreciate it.

  131. David Stuart Says:

    Thanks cat, I’m glad I’m not alone on this. Made me feel especially alienated. Mine would be about level with the nipple as well. Strange to think that my liver is right there.

  132. David Stuart Says:

    For those who had an elevated diaphragm and underwent the surgery, how long was out before your diaphragm lowered?

    • catpowered Says:

      Mine has been 26 months and it has not moved. I have talked to four others that had the surgery only one had success. He had the surgery about four months after diagnosis. He figured about six month from the onset as it took a bit to figure it out. His started working six months after surgery. Left side for him. Dr Kaufman states it’s usually about a year.

      • David Stuart Says:

        How long was it after your diagnosis that you had surgery?

      • catpowered Says:

        13 months. I waited too long.

      • Judy Says:

        Michael Langowski, Dr Kaufman has a new procedure that has appeared on his website some time in the last year. It is a muscle transfer. My last sniff test showed I have both left and right sides of my diaphragm weak, the right more than the left. It barely moves.It has taken me a while to find a place to do the EMG, I finally did, now just waiting for them to call and schedule it. My docs office took over a week just to send in the request. But seeing I was damaged during a thoracic spine surgery in 2009 , I know it is too late to work on the nerve, but I am hoping I will qualify for the muscle transplant. You might want to see about that.

      • catpowered Says:

        I just got word my friend’s father had a lung transplant and now has a right paralyzed diaphragm due to an issue with the surgery. It appears as though he will have to remain on oxygen and struggle with breathing even though he has went through the transplant.

      • Judy Says:

        Catpowered that is so sad about the man who had a lung transplant and now has the paralyzed diaphragm. to go through all that emotionally and physically and still end up with breathing problems is awful. I have a facebook friend from our hip replacement group who may be facing a lung transplant, I would hate to think of that happening to her

      • scrozier Says:

        Judy, without a functional phrenic nerve, how does the muscle transplant work? Do they have to use a pacemaker?

      • Juanita Says:

        I tried to post two days ago but it didn’t go through. How many ppl have discussed any simular symptoms that led up to this condition. What about any deficiencies that are common? What about living around where they spray pesticides? . What about posture similarities ? Did everyone fall or lift something . ? How many think of what did this to them and what is it ? Can everyone make a symptom list so we can compare. ? I need to figure this out . My only child has this and it’s bilateral. He’s been on the hospital -Aug 27- … I’m with him now at upstate medical ny. The doctors are sending him home on Friday because my son can’t handle being hospitalized any longer. The ins co, fidelis refuses to send him to jersey. This is a scary and dangerous thought , I love him so much.

      • Judy Says:

        I am sorry Juanita, it is hard enough to deal with when it is ourself but to have a child with this, it is terrible. I am so sorry. I know my only symptom I am sure of is my shortness of breathe. Mine happened in a thoracic spine surgery in 2009. I was fine and hiking 8 miles per day before the surgery also then swimming one mile after my hike. then something happened during the surgery. They did have to deflate one lung to do the procedure, but had lots of problems with it and kept inflating and deflating it. My oxygen saturation kept getting into the 30’s so the anesthesiologist stopped the surgery. the surgeon cleaned up and went home, never checking on me. I ended up not breathing in recovery , it took 2 hours to stabilize me ,I remember hearing doctors say she is stable, but not out of the woods yet. I was on a respirator in intensive care for a few days. Then I came off the respirator , but would desaturate with only a few steps.
        so I never did get physical therapy. I was out of breathe at that time just walking from my bed to the bathroom. Now it seems that my right side is really very weak or paralyzed, it depends on when you ask a doctor. But my left side is weak as well , which is scary to me.

        I hopeDr Kaufman can help your son and soon.

    • David Stuart Says:

      I’ve seen some that were years after diagnosis gain some recovery, don’t give up hope. Maybe it wasn’t too late and it’s taking a longer length of time to recover….I hope for your sake

  133. Thomas Maddalla Says:

    My diaphragm problem took Two and a half years to diagnose. They called it everything they could think of but we persisted to look farther and we found Dr. Kaufman and he sent us to get a sniff test right away.Surgery was soon after and it took three years to to build back to normal tests. It is never going to be an overnight thing,Just something that has to be rebuilt. I hope that you all can have the success I had, It just takes time and work.

    • David Stuart Says:

      Mr Maddalla
      I of course am hoping to be a candidate. If your diaphragm was actually raised in your chest, do you have an approximate time it took for it to lower to a more normal level? I know it takes time to regain diaphragm control and strength because of atrophy but I’m curious on the relief of sandwiching in the chest. Is there an specific exercise you do that I could potentially work on? My Dr hasn’t been much help in that aspect.

      • Judy Says:

        I am hoping to be a candidate for DRKaufman’s muscle transplantation. But now that I have two weak diaphragms I am not sure if I will be. Maybe he can fix the weaker of the two.
        All I know is I was just out of breath walking to answer my front door . It is really getting bad. I took a mediation class where the instructor told us to just think about out breathing. At the end he asked for comments, I told him it was horrible for me, it just showed me how bad my breathing was. MY doctors secretary is taking her sweet time sending in my referrals for the EMG. I don’t know why , but I did find a local hospital that does them.

      • Dee Says:

        strongly suggest that you make sure they know what they are doing at your local hospital for an EMG my pulmonologist told me he knew of nobody in the southeast that he would trust to do an EMG properly. Finding someone to do a sniff test and read it properly is just as difficult..

      • Judy Says:

        I know Dee my last 2 sniff tests are so confusing. I did leave a message to have the radiologist call me back as he told me one thing at the time of the test, then his report written a week later says something else. He never called me back so I will call again Monday morning. As far as the EMG, I was told so many times that this one doc woiuld do it, but I insisted he would not. I went to him last year and he walked into the room saying I don’t put needles in diaphragms. So I asked Gina at DRKaufman’s where to go and she told me. so I am waiting for my doc to send in the referrals to Stanford and to UC Irvine. She told me they were both good. then I asked another doc to give me a referral for another sniff test at a different hospital. Those 2 tests are so hard to get, I almost just want to fly to NJ to have them done

      • Brenda Says:

        My sniff test was done in Chattanooga TN. It didn’t take 5 minutes. The radiologist told me immediately that I had a left paralyzed phrenic nerve. His report said the same. Judy you need to find another place to have your sniff test. Obviously they aren’t experienced in performing this test for you. Good luck!

      • Dee Says:

        we went to NJ to get emg done not pleasant but GLAD I did

      • David Stuart Says:

        How has your recovery been Dee? Making good progress? Do you remember any of the qualifying factors for the surgery? I have another test pending Monday morning then I’ll be submitting my papers via fax.

  134. Thomas Maddalla Says:

    Oh…. That dastardly E.M.G. Test That all the doctors are afraid to do Turned out to be Quite easy in my experience with Dr. Kaufman’s team. I was expecting the worst and they said OK You are done. I Hardly even noticed it. I must have been under a lucky star or something. lol

    • Molly Jesberger Says:

      I sure hope I’m under a lucky star a week from Monday when I have my EMG in NJ..I think I’m more nervous about that than the surgery!!

      • David Stuart Says:

        I’m betting you’ll be just fine Molly!

      • catpowered Says:

        I will say a prayer for you and your family…

      • Dee Says:

        the EMG was more painful for my wife watching than it was for me but glad I had it done in NJ …. only true way to find out if there is some diaphragm activity.. YOU WILL BE FINE…… PROMISE…

      • catpowered Says:

        Now to clarify I didn’t mean I’ll pray for you because it was a horrible test. It was not. I part for great results of the whole thing.

      • catpowered Says:

        Now to clarify I didn’t mean I’ll pray for you because the test was awful, it was not. I pray for you for the results of the test and surgery to be safe and a great success.

      • Molly Jesberger Says:

        Thank you all so much! I appreciate your prayers and words of encouragement more than you know! Coming from those who know exactly what I’m going through with this bizarre ‘condition’ that we all share means so much! It’s so frustrating to have something that no one around me has ever even heard of, let alone understands. The results that those of you have had with this surgery are so varied, I really don’t know what to expect for myself. I just keep telling myself that only being 6 months out from the injury that I have an advantage and hope for the best!

      • David Stuart Says:

        What’s the schedule look like for being there? Hotel prices? Flying or driving?

      • catpowered Says:

        When I went out there in September 2013 for my surgery we went to a restaurant somewhere in a marina in New Jersey. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it, a hole in the wall kind of place. But anyways the best crab cakes I’ve ever had. Fantastic. If my credit card records were to go back that far I would dig it up because if I ever go back to New Jersey to that area we were staying I will definitely eat those crabcakes again.

      • Molly Jesberger Says:

        David, we were going to fly but decided to drive to save money. Flight costs for the holiday weekend were ridiculously expensive!! It’s about an 8 hour drive from our home in Ohio. We decided to stay in an apartment instead of a hotel so that we will have a kitchen so we don’t have to eat out every meal…again, to save money! The price is comparable to a hotel that has a kitchenette but much more homey. We are staying in Ocean Grove and the cost is $1000 for the week (7 nights). Mind you it would cost much more in season. We are going on the Friday after Thanksgiving. I have my EMG and visit with Dr. Kaufman on Monday and surgery on Tuesday. I will be staying at the hospital overnight and follow up with Dr. Kaufman on Friday. The plan is to come home after my appointment but it will depend on how I am feeling. I hope this answers all of your questions!

      • catpowered Says:

        Good luck to you Molly. All will go well.

      • Molly Jesberger Says:

        Cat…if you think of the name of that restaurant in the next couple days let me know! I love crab cakes!

      • catpowered Says:

        Barhs Landing Marina. Super Crab Cakes. I just googled it. Little pricey but I couldn’t eat both. You have to go and send me some to Indiana. Half an hour north from where you’re staying.

        Bahrs Landing Seafood Restaurant & Marina, 2 Bay Avenue, Highlands, NJ 07732

        Now a funny story so I hope not to offend anyone buy my wife after a few days had to get away from me. Cooped up in a hotel she decided to go to Asbury Park to a beach to hang out for a while. Drove there got situated on the beach to try and get some sun. Laid down and looked around a bit. Then she ran to the car and back to the hotel. I said why you back so soon. She said I looked around and I was the only “straight” person there. It was a gay beach, primarily males. Makes that were doing things they shouldn’t be, in public. Wowowowowowow. Back to good ole Indiana for us.

        To be completely honest if you’ve never been there it’s really not any different than the Midwest once you get a few miles of the ocean. But when you get around the ocean you can see about anything.

  135. Brenda Says:

    I wish you the very best and hope you make it through the tests and surgery with flying colors!! I hope your surgery will be 100% successful and that you are completely back to normal. Keep us posted on how you are doing.
    It is a strange phenomenon, the illness that brings us all together here …with tons of help from Steve, of course. I am always interested in any bit of news or information from everyone here. It’s a comfort to share experiences about this horrible condition.
    Happy Thanksgiving PPN Support Group!!

  136. scrozier Says:

    Several of you have asked about the “devices” that my pulmonologist made for me, so I’ve posted them in a photo album. Please don’t try to rig something up on your own. There is a potential for harm if you don’t have the assistance and advice of a doctor.

    There are two “devices” and three photos at the link below.

    The first photo is the modified ambu-bag. I use it to blow air *into* my lungs, on the theory that it expands the lungs fully and potentially keeps the “bad” lung from collapsing.

    The second two photos are for rehab. It is an incentive spirometer, with optional resistance fittings. (I don’t really know what they’re called.) The fittings can be used and combined to make inhalation more difficult, like you would do progressive resistance in the gym.

    If your interest is piqued, show the photos to your pulmonologist or other specialist.

    (If you click on a photo, and click again, you will get an enlarged view.)

    • Judy Says:

      Molly best of luck to you. I will be thinking about you and praying and hoping for the best possible outcome. I tried to post this yesterday, but I was having computer problems and it didn’t go through.

      • Michael Langowski Says:

        I went to Dr Brown yesterday for a follow-up emg.I’m lucky I live very very close to both Drs My phrenic reconnecting surgery did not take 1year ago due to excessive bleeding so Dr Kaufman wanted me to redo the sniff test which showed a still very paralyzed right hemi diaphragm and emg test. I failed the emg test I fainted 2times ,I hate this test……… A word of advice to all about this test. First time is ez cause you don’t know what to expect. The second time you had better be well rested and hydrated with a full belly. I went not doing the latter and failed miserably. I wish this test was done with me being knocked out. I don’t see why you have to be awake there is no input other than discomfort for this test. I don’t think I will continue trying to have the good Dr try to reconnect. I think I will just capitulate to this condition and live with it just like all the Drs previous to Dr Kaufman told me. On Nov 23, 2015 9:34 PM, “Steve Crozier’s Blog” wrote: > > Judy commented: “Molly best of luck to you. I will be thinking about you and praying and hoping for the best possible outcome. I tried to post this yesterday, but I was having computer problems and it didn’t go through.” >

    • David Stuart Says:

      Thank you Mr Scrozier. I inquired about an ambubag with my pulmo. He didn’t “rig” anything up for me but the thought is understood.

  137. David Stuart Says:

    Sorry for the bad experience. Did you inquire about maybe taking an anxiety medication before the test? I don’t actually know what happens during the test but I would imagine it’s not too pleasant. Is completing this test preventing you from a redo? I hope you can find a solution for your problem. We all want to breathe better, I know I want to and I want everyone on here breathing better. How did your surgery “not take” the first go?

  138. Michael Langowski Says:

    David, Dr Kaufman didn’t get the chance to graft the nerve. The location where my phrenic nerve is, is damaged it’s a mess of veins and arteries.This is most likely from me carrying heavy items on my right shoulder during my working years.
    Dr Kaufman could not graft due to the severe bleeding.
    He was very unnerved after the surgery, he pretty much went into lifesaving mode for me said I lost better than 800cc on the floor.I did get 2 bags of blood.
    I believe he wanted to retest to see if maybe he could have released the phrenic nerve.
    I did have an office visit with him this past summer. He wasn’t interested in going back in then.

    • Judy Sewell Says:

      I’m sorry that happened to you Michael. I thought I sent a message to you asking if you or DrKaufman considered the muscle transplant on your diaphragm. I don’t see it now, I am probably repeating myself, but my computer is so slow and behaving poorly

    • David Stuart Says:

      Very sorry it went that way. I hope at the very least you’re relatively asymptomatic.

  139. Judy Sewell Says:

    scrozier, I have no idea how this muscle transfer works, it also says on his site that it is used for people who have had their damage for a long time. I just sent my sniff test and new pulmonary function tests to Gina tonight , so maybe I will get to have an apt with DrKaufman now, I sure hope so and I will post whatever I learn. My first EMG in 2011 actually the only one I had said I had partial damage to the right phrenic nerve> I finally got a date for my EMG but it isn’t until Jan6th. Dr Kaufman is coming to Ca in Feb. I hope I qualify . With both sides being weak, I have no idea what this will show. My docs office wasted time sending in the info , when I told them to , the hospital was booking for Dec 8th. But they waited a few weeks with me bugging them to send it in.
    If my left side is now weak it would explain my lung capacity going from 65% down to 42% in 2013. I just don’t know why the left side got weak

  140. David Stuart Says:

    Let us know how things go tomorrow Molly! I’m sure things will breeze by.

  141. David Stuart Says:

    Well finally got my consult with Dr Kaufman. He said he is willing to see me and I’m going to Jersey to get my emg with anticipation of surgery if the results are within the qualifications. I’m now waiting for Heather to call now. He said it’d be after the new year…darn because I’ve met my out of pocket for the year but I’m thankful he’s even been willing to see me.

    • Dee Says:

      Great news… but the bad news is insurance companies and doctors dont care about your timetable…. what a shame

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