Roger Hollenbaugh of Bandera suffers from Stiff-Person's Syndrome, a
puzzling disease with no known cure and an uncertain long-term prognosis
despite undeniably real symptoms. Photo by Jessica Hawley
Bandera resident learns to live with rare, debilitating
By Jessica Hawley - Staff Writer
Only a few years ago, Roger Hollenbaugh drove an
18-wheeler all over the United States and beyond the country's border into
Canada. He enjoyed taking photographs of the vast and varied landscapes to
capture the visions he rolled by at 70 mph.
"People thought I was nuts that I would take pictures
through the windshield," he said.
Today, the 37-year-old carefully thumbs through those
pictures with rigid fingers, his trucking days a memory. In September 2001,
after suffering for more than two years from symptoms that doctors labeled
psychosomatic, Hollenbaugh was diagnosed by Dr. Michael Winkelmann, in Jackson,
Miss., with stiff-person's syndrome, an extremely rare and, as of yet, scarcely
studied neurological disease.
The ophistonic posture in SPS Above the classic SPS
Lordotic posture. In
ophistonic the body is arched upwards and in
Lordotic the person walks in a hyperextended fashion. Loud noises trigger spasms
and patients can hear distant dog barking and cat noises at night due to
sensitivity to loud noises.
Although the cause of stiff-person's syndrome is unknown
in most cases, Hollenbaugh believes his case developed while he was receiving
treatment for a migraine headache in a Kerrville hospital on July 10, 1998.
He stated that the hospital staff did not lock the rails
on the cardiac bed they placed him on and it collapsed. He said that he hit his
spine on the base and split open the back of his head on a cabinet he flipped
According to Hollenbaugh's account, doctors shaved the
back of his head, stapled the laceration closed and sent him home the same day.
"They didn't give him any antibiotics or even clean the
wound," said Hollenbaugh's aunt, with whom he lives in Bandera.
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