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The End of Neuropathy, The Resumption of Fly Fishing

Richard Kress

Nearly 20 million Americans suffer from neuropathy, a chronic condition that results from damage to or compression of the nerves outside the spinal cord and brain. What are the odds, then, that a physician would treat a pair of twin brothers with the same condition? Ask New Jersey plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Michael Rose of The Institute for Advanced Reconstruction in Shrewsbury, who should know, as he performed the surgery on both twins.

For many years, Richard Kress had trouble walking and difficulties with balance. He was unable to stand on his feet for long stretches of time and needed handrails when using stairs. With such restrictions on his mobility, his basic life activities took a lot of planning. Kress had peripheral neuropathy, a chronic condition that develops from nerve compression or damage and causes tingling and decreased feeling in the extremities. But that all changed this past November after he underwent nerve decompression surgery performed by Dr. Rose.

Kress’s peripheral neuropathy was deemed idiopathic, meaning it could not be linked to a definitive cause. The 61-year-old retired lawyer and family man from Mountainside, NJ, now a part-time financial and liability consultant, and adjunct professor in forensic accounting and fraud law, had surgery eight years ago to remove benign tumors from his pancreas. When he began experiencing the telltale tingling associated with peripheral neuropathy a few years later, his doctors thought it may have resulted from his post-surgery medications, but they weren’t certain.

What was certain was the progressive loss of feeling and shooting pain Kress experienced in both feet—pain that caused him to reach his breaking point this past June. Says Kress, “I went to see some of the top neurologists in the country but was told that nothing could be done and that I’d most likely wind up having to use a cane and even a wheelchair.”

Fortunately, he knew Dr. Rose, who had successfully treated his identical twin brother, Ken, several years ago. Dr. Rose is especially skilled in treating peripheral neuropathy with nerve decompression surgery and is among a small number of surgeons worldwide trained in the technique. Outpatient and minimally invasive, the procedure takes less than an hour and requires only a few small incisions to relieve pressure on an affected nerve. The vast majority of his patients recover quickly and are relieved of symptoms.

Dr. Rose and Richard Kress

Said Dr. Rose, “When Richard came to see me, I saw, as I always do, a patient who was desperate to hear the words, ‘Yes, I can help you.’ Fortunately, Richard was a great candidate for the surgery, and like a majority of well-selected patients, he has had a phenomenal result, and his life has already been immeasurably improved.”

Kress’s nerve decompression surgery to address his right foot took place on November 1 at Jersey Shore Medical Center, with the left side surgery following exactly one month later. He is now in the midst of two to three months of physical therapy.

“I couldn’t be more pleased. The pain went away immediately–even my sleeping improved,” says Kress. “Dr. Rose and his staff are so caring and knowledgeable. My experience with them was 100% positive, 11 on a scale of 1 to 10.”

“Now I can walk and do the things that I love, like fly fishing, my favorite pastime. Before my surgeries, I didn’t have the ability to feel the bottom of the stream when I stood, so I stopped fishing. I’m really looking forward to putting back on my waders!”

Last Saturday at Point Pleasant, Richard Kress could kick off his shoes and walk on the deck. “I’m too young and active” to have lived with the increasing disability caused by his neuropathy. Dr. Rose concurs.