Support Carol Ruiz in fighting MS!!
This campaign is for my beloved wife, Carol. She was clinically diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis on February 16, 2016 after having suffered bilateral optic neuritis for five weeks. Optic Neuritis is when you lose partial or full vision and bi-lateral made it rare because it means both of her eyes were affected. In Carol’s case she lost over 50% of her vision for 5 weeks, after which she gradually recovered over 85%. This incident, we later discovered, was an attack of an unpredictable & disabling disease known as Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system, (brain, spinal cord, optic nerves). On a daily basis, Carol suffers numbness, brain fog, muscular incoordination, nerve pain, blurred/loss of vision and severe constant fatigue. There is no cure for MS.
My growing concern for Carol’s wellbeing drove me to research endlessly for days, nights turning into weeks without end. A dozen doctor/specialist visits and 7 MRI studies later Carol began a strict regimen of three injections a week. I learned to inject her with Copaxone, which does not cure MS, however is the maintenance drug exhibiting the least amount of side effects. Maintenance MS drugs are engineered to keep you from having new attacks/relapses and keep MS from spreading. Sadly, there is not a single maintenance drug that works 100% of the time. Add that any attack/relapse is very bad due to the fact that recovery is never back to 100% and there is no guarantee you will recover at all.
Despite following a strict painful battery of 3 injections a week for over 9 months, Carol suffered a second relapse in September of 2016 which required her to be rushed into the ER and remain hospitalized for three days. In January of 2017, she suffered a third relapse which came to light when she underwent her first MRI of 2017 (8th in less than one calendar year) which showed brain lesions and damage that grew to 11mm from December 2016 to January of 2017, showing evidence of active demyelination.
Demyelination is a key symptom of MS. All of our nerves have a protective sheath or cover called myelin which is similar to speaker/HDMI wires. When you have MS your own immune system attacks and destroys this protective cover leaving the bare nerve exposed which causes it to become temperature sensitive, unstable and begins to misfire or stops working, causing neurological problems across the entire body. Nerves without myelin affect your brain function, memory retention, walking, hand coordination, arm movement, sight, sense of smell and simple yet everyday survival functions such as the ability to go to the restroom becomes an issue.
There is hope! A cutting edge medical treatment, in Chicago, IL, called Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT) has proven to halt the progression of MS. The HSCT process reboots your immune system using chemotherapy and your own bone marrow stem cells. Most people are denied after waiting several months yet Carol’s application was fast tracked through the process and accepted by the Doctors at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Doctors at Northwestern chose her due to the active demyelination and how aggressive and widespread the disease showed in her MRI studies. Dr. Burt, the lead doctor, does NOT easily approve applicants, which is why we were so excited to learn of her approval!
The process takes place over a 2 month period, involving multiple flights from our home state of Texas to Chicago, IL. Your contribution will help with the accumulating medical bills, travel expenses, lodging expenses, medication expenses, living expenses as well as insurance deductibles while we seek treatment in Chicago. Inherent to this treatment is a prolonged post procedure recovery Carol will endure, under strict restrictions having a brand new immune system. We are now currently awaiting insurance approval.
As a wife, mother, sister, daughter, public school teacher and school counselor, Carol looked to help and serve others but now she needs our help. Carol needs your help.
Every contribution helps and is whole heartedly appreciated. We sincerely thank you for all the love and support. Thank you for reading.
On the morning of November 12, 2017, God gained an angel. Due to complications immediately following her transplant, she is no longer with us. We are all still in disbelief as to how this could happen. Her spirit lives on through her daughter, Melanie and her husband Gib. This campaign has turned a new page since all medical and travel costs incurred were payed for out of pocket, thereby, leaving her husband and daughter with significant debt and funeral costs.
Carol was determined to beat MS, by any means and via any sacrifice. Mel and I take some comfort in knowing she is now relieved of all the pain and stress she endured. Carol always use to say that there was a reason for everything. Melanie and I find it hard to understand what that could be. She will be missed so dearly by so many.
We love you Carol. We will miss you always and forever until the end of our days.
Melanie & Gib
As I wrote in the opening post, we began the application process for Carol’s HSCT treatment in Chicago, IL, and she was approved very quickly. We traveled to Chicago and went through all the evaluative testing required before actually commencing treatment. We left approved, with a treatment plan and a new sense of hope. We just needed to wait for our insurance to approve.
Well, Carol’s original claim was denied. Next there was a physician peer to peer review where Dr. Burt (Lead doctor at Northwestern) pleaded Carol’s case with other physicians and was also denied. We armed a third appeal and this was denied as well. Our insurance company reiterated that this was not a necessary treatment, despite it being the only treatment to stop the progression of MS, whereas every other medication, not just approved by insurance, but available to science only attempts at keeping you the same. They would only approve drugs that have the potential to delay the inevitable as opposed to approving the ONLY treatment proven to STOP Multiple Sclerosis!
I fear the worse having wasted so much time battling the insurance company with repeated attempts to get the claim approved. As the days go by, I am reminded that every day is a gift. This has become a life changing event for our entire family. As the weeks, months and seasons pass, it pains me to witness her condition slowly deteriorate. Multiple Sclerosis is taking Carol from us one tiny piece at a time, and I can tell you there is no worse feeling in the world.
My mission has now evolved into getting Carol to this treatment one way or another. Northwestern Memorial hospital in Chicago requires an initial deposit of $125, 000. Total costs and fees will surpass $125K, however this gets her through the door and has become the new goal.
I want to thank all of you whom have shown us love, compassion and support. For those new to our page, I implore that you please share this with the entire world. Of course every contribution, big or small helps and is wholeheartedly appreciated. Thank you for reading.