Thanks for asking. I referred myself to Mayo Clinic and specifically to Dr. Fogelson because I read his research papers and looked at his medical training ( Neurosurgeon trained at Mayo & also Orthopedic spine fellowship ) and having both specialties for spine surgery was a bonus. I found that he was teaching neurosurgery at Mayo and co-directing surgical lab courses at the Spine Research Society Annual meeting for other surgeons in cervical surgeries, both fusion and artificial disc, and was a spinal deformity expert, and someone who takes the complex cases. He had also been recognized by his undergraduate university with a full scholarship and graduated with honors.
After my surgery, he was listed in the Becker Spine Review as a spine surgeon leader to know https://www.beckersspine.com/spine-leaders/item/37080-spine-surgeon-leader-to-know-dr-jeremy-l-fogelson-of-mayo-clinic.html
It was by reading one of Dr. Fogelson's papers, I came across a term I had to look up, and in doing that, I found medical literature with cases similar to mine, and I had found what 5 other surgeons had missed completely. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3111492/
I knew I had found a surgeon in Dr. Fogelson who would understand the complexity of my case, and it was because of the paper her co-authored, that I knew there was an answer. I had been trying to get help for 2 years, and none of the 5 surgeons I consulted would help me. I also have thoracic outlet syndrome that complicated it a bit because of overlapping symptoms, and I needed to be seen somewhere where both would be understood.
I had "funicular" pain or referred pain that confused 5 local surgeons and none recognized that this pain was being caused by cervical stenosis. I literally had pain all over my body caused by spinal cord compression in my neck, and there is no definitive test to prove that this happens, except that surgery to decompress the spinal cord fixes it. The indication that predicts this is having an epidural spinal injection that takes away all the pain; but it isn't definitive proof. I had that experience where the spinal injection temporarily took away all the pain, by the doctor ignored the results and looked no further. I had documented it completely on body diagrams, and there was no doubt in my mind, but that was what flagged me as a complicated case. When I got worse, the last surgeon dismissed me after I had done everything he asked of me over 5 months.
I called Mayo and asked about Dr. Fogelson and they told me that patients really like him. I asked to send my imaging in to him, and I wrote him a letter explaining my symptoms and I sent the medical study I found and told him I found it because of his paper. I was offered an appointment, and I was impressed when I met him. He was intelligent, kind and compassionate, and down to earth. He answered all my detailed questions well. I knew a lot about spine procedures since I'd been reading literature for 2 years and watching online videos of surgeons presenting lectures for other neurosurgeons at conferences and that is also how I knew that the surgeons before I came to Mayo were not getting it right. They were looking for easy cases with no complications, and they didn't want to risk their reputation on something they didn't understand.
At my first meeting with Dr. Fogelson, he wanted to see the painting that I brought, and he liked it and said he wouldn't mind having something like that in his house. I told him that could be arranged and we all laughed. So that is how it began, and I was relieved. I had found a surgeon who respected me as a patient. I was relieved that he was going to help me regain my ability to do my art work.
I was highly impressed with my care and recovery, and when I got the survey about my experience from the then Mayo CEO, Dr. John Noseworthy, just filling out a multiple choice questions was not enough, so I wrote him with a personal letter praising Dr. Fogelson and his nurse. She was also very kind and helpful and always called me back to answer my questions. I got a personal letter back from Dr. Noseworthy thanking me, and he said that Dr. Fogelson was one of their best neurosurgeons and that he valued working with him. I was so excited to get that letter, and I gave Dr. Fogelson a copy at my next appointment… as you can imagine that is how you really make a surgeon happy, and he was so humble and thankful to receive it.
As a patient who was anxious, having a kind doctor made a difference for me in facing my fears. Dr. Fogelson is a gifted surgeon, and I don't have any of that pain any more, and I believe that this type of healing atmosphere benefits both the doctor and the patient. I couldn't find that anywhere else. He also gave me a choice that the others usually do not in having a single level fusion without hardware because I agreed to stay in a neck brace for 3 months which lets me avoid any possible future hardware problems. I had seen that possibility in one of his papers too, and I asked him and he agreed. That really is putting the needs of the patient first.
When I delivered his portrait to him, I asked him why he wanted to be a neurosurgeon, and how told me he chose that because it was difficult and he wanted the challenge. I don't remember his exact words, but he likes solving difficult problems… unlike the others who didn't want my case. If I should need anything spine related in my future, I will go back to Dr. Fogelson at Mayo, and he told me he will be my doctor until such time as he retires. (That will be quite a while.)