Life can change in an instant…
Samaritan’s Palliative Medical Partners Offers Renewed Hope After Devastating Transition
Randy and Janet Bodoff lived a full, satisfying life. Professionally, they owned a well-respected Bala Cynwyd marketing/public relations firm before realizing Janet’s life-long dream to open a Cape May art gallery. Their social life was busy as well. “We had a full circle of friends, subscriptions to Philadelphia theatres…,” said Randy.
Then, in an instant, life as they knew it changed dramatically.
In 1999, Randy began to trip and fall. The neurosurgeon he consulted had troubling news: The bones of Randy’s spinal column were too narrow and were compressing his spine. Without surgery, said the specialist, Randy could wind up paralyzed. Before he could undergo the procedure, however, he contracted the flu. During a wracking two-hour coughing spell, Randy pitched forward so violently that he severely damaged his C6 vertebra causing paralysis to 80 percent of his spine. He was 41 years old.
In that moment, Randy went from “being the go-to guy, the guy who did for everyone else to the person who had to ask for everything beyond the reach of my arm.” Through rehabilitation and sheer grit, he started regain the use of his left leg and was getting around with a walker when another setback derailed his progress.
Eighteen months ago, his compromised immune system became allergic to his own bacteria. He contracted double pneumonia and actually died for 70 seconds. Once again, he became bedbound — for 128 days — and totally dependent. “I was in a very dark place,” said Randy tearfully, “I thought I was going to die.” And that’s when a seriously ill friend told him and Janet about Dr. Stephen Goldfine, Samaritan’s Chief Medical Officer, who heads up its Palliative Medical Partners specialty practice.
Samaritan Palliative Medical Partners is a 3-year-old service focused on relieving pain and other symptoms of serious illness or injury. Its focus is on helping patients achieve their care and treatment goals – even while receiving life-prolonging treatments – so they can live each day with a better quality of life.
At that first visit, admitted Dr. Goldfine, “I felt Randy was ready to give up. He was at a bend in the road where he could choose to fight to live on or give up and die. I wanted to offer him some assurance that I could bring him back some quality of life.”
Randy agreed, “I didn’t know if he could help me, but in my heart I knew he was going to try and that made the difference…He was the first person to not just hear me, but to really listen.”
Dr. Goldfine’s first order of business was to find the right mix of medicines to help relieve Randy’s excruciating pain from his spine, his damaged nerves and continual muscle spasms. “Have you ever hit your elbow’s funny bone?” asked Randy. “Well imagine that sharp pain all over your body 24 hours a day. Right now, as my meds are wearing off, my calves and feet feel like they are on fire.” Dr. Goldfine also prescribed the right anti-depressant to enhance Randy’s outlook, ability to function and quality of life.
Both Randy and Dr. Goldfine point out, however, that the consultations involve far more than prescription writing. “He wanted to know what was going on physically, emotionally, spiritually. What was I feeling?” To ease Randy and Janet’s social isolation, for example, Dr. Goldfine suggested that they invite friends into their Ventnor home to play cards since it was so hard to get Randy out, down his steps and into a car.
Though Randy, now 58, still has some “down days,” things are definitely better than before he consulted Palliative Medical Partners. Dr. Goldfine and his staff have been there with him and his family through it all.
“He’s family,” said an emotional Randy. “He took me from a place where I thought it was over and assured me it wasn’t. We didn’t know at the beginning exactly which way to go, but we knew we were going to get there together.”
Because of you, Samaritan Comforts Always
Palliative Medicine consultations are not fully covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most insurers. Your gift to Samaritan’s annual appeal not only supports our hospice care but also offers comfort and relief to people like Randy – palliative patients who are coping with the pain and symptoms of serious illness or injury but who are not ready for hospice care. Because of you, our program is available to all who need it regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay for this life-enhancing comfort care and support.