Cliff & Patricia's Medical Fund
Cliff has been diagnosed with and is currently suffering from a host of 23 non-curable connective tissue, vascular, neurological and auto-immune disorders that are simultaneously attacking his immune system, vascular system, nervous system, pulmonary system along with the glands throughout his body, his bones and spine. All of this is unfortunately accompanied by a constant, crippling level of pain which has him confined to a wheelchair or bed most the time. He can walk very short distances but it is tremendously painful and it takes great effort. He is also at constant risk of falling when on his feet and has had several falls resulting in multiple broken and fractured ribs, a broken nose and a badly broken ankle and leg. He also suffers from sleep deprivation as the neuropathies flare up at night—making it difficult for his body to maintain contact with the bed. He’s also currently suffering from bilateral sciatica—a terribly painful condition caused by the degeneration and fusing of several discs in his lower spine. Unfortunately, surgery is not an option because several of his pre-existing disorders will prevent his body from healing, which will lead to infections that could be fatal. Cliff just recently returned home from an 11-day battle with sepsis and cellulitis, which nearly cost him his life.
In December 2006, after having to liquidate his home, life savings, and personal belongings to cover his medical costs, that money (along with the funds generated from a benefit concert organized and hosted by Joe Satriani and Steve Vai) enabled Cliff and his family to relocate to the Medical Research Triangle of North Carolina, where he was placed under the care of a team of specialists at Duke University Hospital and the Carolina Center for Pain Management.
Legendary guitarists Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, throughout the years, have hosted a second and third benefit concert in support of Cliff Cultreri and his family. "The Benefit For Cliff III" took place recently on Friday, June 12, 2015 at Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles. The events featured performances by Satriani and Vai, Steve Lukather, Paul Gilbert, Dweezil Zappa, Animals as Leaders and many other great artists.
See concert footage of The Benefit For Cliff III here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDHr1ou5GLw
Although the event raised a significant sum of money, Cliff is still deeply in need of additional support, as his medical expenses are astronomical with no end in sight.
If it were not for the generosity of Joe Satriani and Steve Vai and the series of benefit concerts they organized, Cliff and his family would be homeless. They made it possible for the Cultreri family to get a fresh start in North Carolina, but quite unfortunately, they continue to run up considerable medical costs. Patricia, Cliff’s wife of 25 years and his primary caretaker, has also fallen ill with a degenerative disc disease in her spine and neck. She’s had 3 synthetic discs placed in her neck and has just undergone emergency surgery to replace two more discs in her cervical spine. Aside from the cost, there is also the issue of bringing in a fulltime caretaker until Patricia has recovered. Unfortunately, to add insult to injury, just weeks into the recovery process, Patty awoke one day to find the hearing in her right ear gone and approximately 65% of the hearing in her left ear gone as well. After the MRIs, endless tests and costly visits to specialists, they are afraid that nothing can be done other than to purchase a hearing aid.
Cliff and Patricia are relying on friends, family, and kind donors to help them, and their two magnificent children, one entering graduate school for speech pathology and the other starting a career in the film industry. They are desperately in need of a few more angels to step forward and work some miracles for them, so they can keep their current home and continue to receive the quality of medical care required. Although Joe and Steve would be more than glad to provide the support, Cliff would prefer not to continuously rely on them for the additional help needed. Joe and Steve have gone so tremendously far above and beyond the call of duty and my family and I are forever in their debt. They have worked miracles for us and have dedicated a tremendous amount of work, time and energy to help us on our way.
For those of you familiar with Cliff’s work in the music recording industry: Cliff Cultreri is the A&R executive who "discovered" Joe Satriani and SteveVai, as well as working along side many other popular recording artists including Megadeth, Metallica, Corrosion of Conformity, Exodus, Death, Dark Angel, Possessed, Venom, Opeth, Cradle of Filth, Slash’s Snakepit, Gary Moore, Peter Frampton, Warren Haynes & Gov’t Mule, The Cure, My Bloody Valentine, Agnostic Front and endless others while working at Relativity Records, Music For Nations and Koch Entertainment.
Cliff receives no vocational financial compensation and has not since 2005. He helps his wife and her company’s clients by giving advice and consulting when needed and when possible. Any help and support would be so greatly appreciated and would help Cliff and his family to keep their current home and to continue to receive the level of medical service that is so desperately needed.
It's been a while since my last update as we've been on a bit of a roller-coaster ride through some very dark places, but before I go there, I should tell you the good news first. The Pain Management team in Winston Salem took a chance on a theory and they freed me from the Bilateral Sciatica. With a syringe, they filled the calcified cyst, on my spine, with contrast dye. They pumped it full until it burst and that it did. There was a risk that if the dye made the cyst larger and it did not burst, I could have been paralyzed from the pain of the increased pressure, but that did not happen and once again DR Gilmore and his crew saved the day and my life. The doctors were all in a deep sweat and high fiving and jumping for joy when they saw it finally explode into tiny fragments.
Now for the grim news. I was hospitalized, once again, with sepsis and cellulitis and had an 11 day battle fighting for my life. I got through it and was back home but still feeling rather ill at ease. It wasn't long before a huge infection blossomed on the inside edge of my left foot. I was sent to the wound clinic where they made an incision and cleared out all that was infected. A few days later, I skyrocketed with a fever and the same infection was back. After cleaning if up, they took a series of X-rays and an MRI which showed that the infection had traveled into my bones. Unfortunately there is no cure for this other than removing the bones, so on September 14th, my left leg will be amputated. They will start 4 to 6 inches below the knee and hopefully they 'll find no trace of the infection there. There are also a few complications that may cause the leg not to heal as the skin, that will make the flap and cover where they cut, is not healthy from all the years of battling vasculitis and venous stasis. That coupled with Diabetes, which hampers the healing process, could cause serious complications. If the wound doesn't heal they will have to cut again, this time, above the knee which is far less desirable. Without the knee joint, walking will be difficult and unnatural, and there are far fewer prosthetic legs available to work with.
I need everyone's thoughts and prayers directed at seeing that my leg heals on the first cut. If all goes well, I'll be in the hospital for 7 to 10 days and then I'll be transferred to a physical rehab facility for 7 to 8 weeks.
Once again, the costs are astronomical as amputation is the leading medical cause of bankruptcy. Not only do we have the cost of the operation, the hospital and the rehab facility, but we have had to replace all the toilets in our house and added rails and supports as well as having 5 doorways widened a new shower installed, a steel ramp built, leading to our front door and purchasing a vehicle with a wheelchair lift and on and on it goes. The cost projection, for our portion, after insurance, is approximately 120K and the house renovations, medical supplies and a vehicle with a wheelchair lift is about another 20K to 25K
Once again we're deep in the hole and need all the help we can get.
We thank you for caring and send you all our love,
Cliff & Patty
Patty continues to heal slowly but surely and is up and walking freely with her left arm still in a full cast which should be off inside of 4 weeks. She also has finally been supplied with a hearing aid that is fully functioning and with the use of the hearing aid, her hearing is almost back to normal.
As for me, I'm still battling that case of bilateral sciatica which has become so painful it is crippling, confining me to the wheelchair and walker and causing me to be screaming in pain throughout the day and night. My current Pain Management team and their affiliated hospital have proven to be a group of nasty, non-caring folks who will lie blatantly to blame on myself and each other to cover for their lack of caring and general incompetence. They have , on several occasions, reduced Patty to tears and myself to fits of rage while shuffling us around the ER like cattle, getting absolutely nothing done for days on end while I'm suffering in excruciating pain.
I'm so happy to announce that I will be going back under the care of the Carolina Pain Institute in Winston Salem where the folks are truly wonderful and caring to the point where they will be on the phone with you from their homes at all hours of the night to help you get through a crisis. It's a 2 1/2 drive each way but I'm so glad to be going back under their care.
The biggest problem for me is that I'm no longer a candidate for open surgery. Several of the disorders I suffer, coupled with the fact that I'm cortisol insufficient, have me on a no surgery unless it's life or death list. I am at the highest risk for infection and my body is extremely slow to heal, a very dangerous combination.
The real kick in the face is that the problem with my spine can no longer be treated with microsurgery as we have done for the past 10 years. We are currently at an impasse which is very frightening as for the first time in dealing with extreme pain, I don't know just how much longer I can manage this current level.
We have been searching for a doctor or a team that can perform the work necessary with non-invasive techniques. We've been to the very best and are still empty handed at the moment, but we are hopeful that the team at Winston Salem will have something to help even if it's partial relief. I need some help as this is not manageable and I refuse to be confined to the wheelchair and floor because of pain.
Once again, your prayers, well wishes and support are greatly needed and appreciated.
Sending all our love,
Cliff & Patty
Couple this with Patty leaving her physical therapy session the week before last, late evening, the parking lot lights not working and she's knocked down, taken to the ER by ambulance where they find that she has broken her left hand and arm which is placed in cast, her right leg is fractured and placed in a boot and her right foot sprained, badly bruised and placed in a smaller boot.
Meanwhile, this is all happening while I'm battling a crippling case of bilateral sciatica and undergoing treatment for a dangerous wound on my (left) charcot foot, which could force us into an amputation.
I'm scheduled for an emergency spine procedure to help alleviate the sciatica, where they will attempt to remove all or part of a calcified cyst and I'm scheduled to have 7 teeth extracted on my upper and lower right side as most have already cracked at the gumline where abscesses have set in, causing another area where my body is battling infection. Literally, from head to toe with not much relief in sight.
Imagine all this and now Patty's condition leaves me in charge of cooking, cleaning, feeding, bathing and everything else needed to get through the day and night. It's all on me and my pain level is such that I can barely take care of myself....I don't really know how, but we manage to get by especially when we get a bit of help from our friends, which we surely could use right about now.
I'm in the wound clinic for the charcot foot every Thursday and I'm scheduled for the spine procedure this coming Monday with oral surgery scheduled for Thursday after the wound clinic, and taking care of Patty's needs in-between.
Trying to keep our spirits up and moving forward as best we can. Unfortunately, we are a bit used to this constant bombardment and I have no choice but to try and find some comedy in it all otherwise it could lead to a very dark place.
Sorry for the pile of lousy news. It will simply have to get better, and when it does I'll be here to let you know.
Sending all our love,
Cliff & Patty
Your donations have helped pay for Patty's 4K hearing aid and also for the three, in office, surgical procedures where they unsuccessfully attempted to restore her hearing.
Patty's spine is continuing to heal well, and, in fact, yesterday was her last day of phyiscal therapy which was also a tremendous expense. I have a preliminary meeting with my doctors scheduled for the 15th of this month and my spine surgery is scheduled for the 28th. The pain in my legs and feet is beyond manageable so I'm hoping that this surgery is a success.
As I asked earlier, to all those reading this, please take a moment to link our "Go Fund Me" page to all your social media accounts and ask your family members to do the same. It would be so greatly appreciated.
Sending all our love,
Cliff & Patty
Your illness touches me because it looks very much as mine, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Fibromyalgy, which are causing as well with autoimmune disease, cardiac problems, pain in my body and so on... But I do trust in my God, the only one who can do something for all that if it's his will. I'll pray for you and trust in Christ, he is still as alive today as ever. In him, we are new creatures with no diseases, realty that we will live only when we will be reunited with him. God bless you!