Physician teamwork scores a win for Ty Taubenheim
When former professional baseball player turned nurse practitioner Ty Taubenheim crashed his mountain bike in autumn of 2019, it didn’t seem like anything worth worrying about.
“I’ve had so many worse falls that I walked away from,” says Taubenheim, an active athlete and former pro baseball pitcher who now works as a nurse in Knoxville.
A couple of days later, he began experiencing intense pain in his abdomen and groin area. A CT scan at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center revealed blood had pooled up in a cavity near a muscle close to Taubenheim’s spine.
He was hospitalized and the blood was drained. The pain came back six months later. It came back three months after that. In a few more months it was back, again.
Every time it was the same. Taubenheim would be in severe pain, and he would be admitted to the hospital for a drain while his wife shouldered the responsibilities at home.
“She was an absolute rock when I was in the hospital,” Taubenheim says of his wife, Anna.
Taubenheim was discouraged, frustrated and desperate for relief and for answers, but there seemed to be no way to get to the affected area without potentially doing damage or forcing a long, hard recovery. He consulted with Fort Sanders Regional surgeon Joseph Thurman, MD, whom he knew from his days as a Fort Sanders Regional emergency room nurse.
Looking for a creative option, Dr. Thurman connected with Andrew Conrad, MD, an interventional radiologist at Fort Sanders Regional. The two physicians reviewed the CT scans and devised a plan. Instead of going in through Taubenheim’s back and near the spine, they determined Dr. Thurman could try performing surgery going in from the front of the body with Dr. Conrad providing a well-timed drain.
“This collaborative approach allowed Dr. Thurman and I to achieve the kind of clinical and technical result that would have been very difficult otherwise,” Dr. Conrad says.
Dr. Thurman cleaned the abscess and discovered a small stone that had made its way into Taubenheim’s muscle. The stone was removed, and Taubenheim recovered.
The origin of the pain-inducing stone will always be a mystery, but Dr. Thurman believes it may have been something from a past appendectomy, jarred into a painful place when Taubenheim’s mountain bike crashed.
Whatever the cause, it’s just part of Taubenheim’s medical history now. It won’t hold him back anymore.
“We couldn’t have done it without having the drain in place. It took some creative coordination and thought from Dr. Conrad and I trying to tag team, knowing what the ultimate goal was,” Dr. Thurman says.
Dr. Conrad agrees. “This result and approach to a unique and difficult patient problem exemplifies the team spirit we espouse here at Fort Sanders Regional,” he says.
Today, Taubenheim is enjoying an active, athletic lifestyle again.
“I’m not overcome with this stress that if I work out really hard or if one of the boys tackles me playing football I’m going to end up in the hospital for a week,” Taubenheim says. “I got my life back!”