(Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt of a story that was originally published in The Leader-Telegram on Dec. 1, 2018.)
By Christena T. O’Brien
In October, Dorothy Sorlie’s husband, Jim Urness, suggested they pack up their bicycles and go for a ride. The 77-year-old Sorlie agreed, but she feared she’d be unable to handle hills as she once did. Riding along the Chippewa River in Eau Claire, the couple saw some rises ahead and doubt filled her mind.
“Not wanting to give up, I increased my pace and guess what,” Sorlie recalled. “(It) took a lot of energy, but I made it all the way to the (High) Bridge. Wow!”
Six months earlier, Sorlie, a biker who loves the outdoors, couldn’t have seen herself completing such a feat.
Then again, she never imagined being diagnosed with normal pressure hydrocephalus, or NPH, and having a narrow piece of tubing inserted into her brain in May.
“I’ve thanked God a million times,” said Sorlie, of Eau Claire, who agreed to share her story in hopes of potentially helping someone else.
“This is not a ‘poor me’ (story), but the need to make others aware of this condition,” Sorlie said about her experience. “If even one person can escape this ordeal, … my effort (to share information about this condition) will be worth it.”
Two years ago, Sorlie began to feel herself slipping backward as she struggled with a variety of conditions — a declining interest in activities that she loved, including cooking and reading; decreasing mobility; and urinary incontinence.
“My decreasing mobility was blamed on arthritis and my right foot, which needed surgery,” she said. “My lack of interest in many things — I could never find a good book or a great new recipe … — I blamed on pain. The reality (was) that I was unable to concentrate.
“The foot surgery recovery was very difficult, and it was then that the urinary incontinence became a profuse, tough situation.”
Her decreasing mobility also was difficult, and “falling was a constant companion,” she said.
“I began to think this is the way life would be,” Sorlie recalled. “How does one adjust?”
Rather that accept the changes in her life, Sorlie sought many ways to heal, including Eastern, Native American and natural medicine, but nothing helped.
“I kept looking (and) exploring and was blessed with a doctor who also kept looking,” she said, referring to Dr. Kevin Wergeland, an internal medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.
He sent her for consultative care at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and directed her to a movement specialist, Dr. Catherine Schmidt, at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Sorlie recalled.
Schmidt referred Sorlie to Dr. Jonathan Bledsoe, a neurosurgeon, who ordered a CT scan. When she got home that day, she got a phone call: “We found it, and it can be cured,” she said. “I did not respond with happy delirium but rather with ‘Oh, really?’”
To read the full story, please visit: https://www.leadertelegram.com/news/front-page/eau-claire-woman-shares-story-in-hopes-of-educating-others/article_8c7a4f9a-d5f4-5580-95de-17bf1cccbc4a.html.