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Posted by: thepinetree on 05/16/2018 01:50 PM Updated by: thepinetree on 05/16/2018 01:53 PM
Expires: 01/01/2023 12:00 AM

Tim Bratten: On the Road to Better Health After 40 Years of Neglect

Jamestown, CA...Like many men, Tim Bratten ignored his health for as long as he could – until the pain in his back forced him to stop working. He had not been to a doctor in 40 years. “It seemed like a waste of time,” he says. “Why take off work to go to the doctor?” He points to a scar on his elbow, explaining how he stitched his torn skin back together years ago. Tim is an expert in auto body work and painting all sorts of vehicles and buildings. He lives in Jamestown and considered himself totally self-sufficient as he built a well-earned reputation for restoring vintage cars and transforming buildings and facilities around Tuolumne and Calaveras counties.

Tim Bratten of Jamestown with his beloved 1963-and-a-half Ford Ranchero.

Tim worked at Steve’s Auto Body in Sonora for 23 years before his physically-demanding career eventually took a toll on his health. Tim notes, “It figures that being on your feet all day working on a concrete floor could eventually mess up your back.”

And, he was often working two or more jobs at a time. He was a licensed contractor for 17 years, sometimes bartering his talents as a house painter for goods and services. His craftsmanship is seen around the clubhouse and residential neighborhood of Greenhorn Creek in Angels Camp.

“I just kept working with the pain in my back for years,” he says. “It kept getting worse and then one day last summer, I just couldn’t bend over anymore. I knew couldn’t go on living like that.”

All the years of neglecting his health caught up with him at the age of 60 when he finally sought medical attention for his failing back. “Once I admitted I needed help, it just wasn’t that easy to find,” he says. “I learned that when you are looking for help if you don’t have a primary care doctor referring you, it’s difficult to get people to listen to you.”

That all changed when Tim attended the “Tackle Your Health” workshop at Mark Twain Medical Center in San Andreas during Men’s Health Month last November. The event theme was prevention – the importance of men taking their health seriously with routine, annual checkups.

Tim recalls, “I wasn’t having any luck getting help around home, so I figured I’d just check things out across the river. At the end of that workshop staff members said to talk to them individually if anyone needed help. I did – and it’s the best thing that could have ever happened.”

“They listened – that’s the most important thing. They listened and took me seriously. Right away they set up an appointment for me at the Angels Camp Family Medical Center. Star Hildabrand, who is a Physician Assistant there, talked to me in terms I could understand and things took off from there.”

She referred Tim for tests at the hospital and within a couple of days treatment was outlined for several previously-neglected problems. Physical therapy sessions began to help relieve his debilitating back pain and possibly avoid back surgery.

As his health is improving Tim is able to get back into somewhat of his regular routine. He is a gardener and a gourmet chef who worked his way up from being a dishwasher to 2nd Chef at the esteemed City Hotel in Columbia.

Tim was in seventh grade when his father took over as Vice President of Columbia College and the family moved from Modesto to Sonora. “My dad grew up on a farm in Nebraska,” Tim says. “He had the farmer’s attitude that you fix things yourself. He showed me how to do things when I was young and I wound up making a career out of it.”

Of the many cars he has restored and rebuilt his favorite is a 1963-and-a-half Ford Ranchero with a patriotic red-white-and-blue paint job. It has been a crowd-pleaser in many local parades and car shows over the years. He’s in the process of getting it ready to sell. “It’s time for someone else to enjoy it,” he smiles.

Looking back over the past few months, Tim marvels at the fast turnaround in his life. “I have a life again. I’m not living in pain all the time,” he says.

“Before my experience with Mark Twain Medical Center I had lost all hope in the health care system. These folks are different. They are dedicated to helping you – no matter what your situation.”

“I want other people to know. That’s why I’m sharing my experience. They will help you get on the right track – like they did for me.”

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