October 5, 2009

Taking matters into his own hands

By Kelley Luckstein

guitaristGuitarist Billy McLaughlin was selling out shows in 1998 — playing more than 200 concerts a year, all around the United States — when he was on his way to a photo shoot for an album.


He was pulling his youngest son, Blaise, out of the car when the boy's foot got caught on a strap of his car seat.


McLaughlin slipped on an icy patch and the two of them were headed for the ground.


"I thought, 'He's going to crack his head open.' I threw my hand back to break the fall, and he landed on top of me," McLaughlin said.


Blaise's head was fine. But the pinkie and ring fingers of McLaughlin's left hand had been dislocated.


Recovery seemed to take a lot longer than anyone expected.


McLaughlin underwent months of physical therapy and tried homeopathy, acupuncture, rolfing, deep-tissue massage, chi gung and chiropractic. But nothing worked. Even the simplest tunes, songs he could have played in his sleep before the accident, were impossible to play…


He made an appointment at Mayo Clinic in Rochester a few months later, hoping Speier might have missed a "tennis-ball-sized tumor" in his brain, he said. "I thought maybe it's something they can just go in there and fix and pull out because I really want to play my guitar again."


The doctors at Mayo confirmed Speier's diagnosis.


Pioneer Press by Mary Divine, 10/4/09

Tags: movement disorder, Neurology

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