Help a Dear Friend and Her Family

$14,246 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 142 people in 28 months
JD
Janelle Downey
on behalf of Eryk Ian Heavyside
 BENICIA, CA
Dena Heavyside is a 5th grade teacher in Pleasant Hill, California. She has a true passion for teaching and taking excellent care of her students, along with her beautiful family; her husband Eryk, and her young sons Colton and Dylan.

Tuesday, February 21, Dena arrived to work on what she believed to be another ordinary day. Having gone to bed the night before with a sore back, the pain turned debilitating and upon arriving at her school in the morning, immediately drove herself to the emergency room. By the time she was laying in the ER bed, she had lost complete use of her legs, and is now paralyzed from the waist down.  She has been seen by numerous specialists and endured endless tests and procedures.  The doctors have diagnosed her with Transverse Myelitis, a rare condition that causes extreme inflammation in her spinal column. Though doctors are hopeful her state is not permanent, much is still unknown; what triggered the inflammation, what the fate of her future movement will be, the continued length of her hospital stay and overall recovery time.

Dena remains in the hospital waiting for answers, and hoping that various treatments will start to bring her movement and strength back. With two young boys at home, Eryk is working hard to keep things running smoothly and also be with Dena during this scary and uncertain time. 

As one can imagine, financial costs continue to rise, as Dena and Eryk have both run out of sick leave and medical bills continue to pile high.

She is a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. Her “ordinary day” has now changed the course of her life forever. Beyond the usual daily financial challenges families face, they will now need to balance a single income household (once Eryk is able to return to work) with insurmountable hospital bills, extra childcare costs, and  possibly long rehabilitation therapies.  One of the hardest things in life to do is ask for help when in need, and we feel this family is in true need.  Any funds that have been collected that go unused will be donated to The Transverse Myelitis Association to help further research on this mysterious disease.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kindness and generosity.
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An update from Dena!!

Hello Friends,

I just wanted to thank everyone for donating funds to my family and I as we navigate our way through this unexpected crisis. Please know that your generosity is greatly needed and dearly appreciated. Not being able to work, and medical bills piling to the ceiling just add to what is already an unbelievably stressful situation; so please know that your contributions are needed and again, appreciated. We will never be able to thank each of you enough for being so kind as to extend yourselves to us in the ways that you have.

On the bright side, things are looking good for my recovery. I am now standing and walking with a walker! I can only go short distances around the house, but it's a start! There were 10 days in the hospital when I couldn't move at all, so this is a big accomplishment. My neurologist and orthopedic doctors feel I'm making lightning speed progress...but of course to me it feels very slow! At the current time I'm trying to get into an outpatient program called Project Walk that specializes in spinal cord injuries, and they have a great philosophy and track record for getting people back on their feet. The bummer is they don't take insurance so this will be all cash-we feel that if it gets me walking, and walking well, then it will be worth it in the end.

It has been so touching to see the generosity pour out from several different areas of my life..old friends from childhood, mommy friends, teacher friends, etc...please know that I love you all, and will never forget your kindness.
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Hello!
Once again how amazing it's been to see the support coming in. Here is a quick update!

Dena was released from the hospital this weekend. She still needs around the clock care but luckily she has a caring husband and mom who are both trained nurses and can be her in home care for now. Also Eryk's mom has generously flown in from Tennessee to help out. While she is happy to be home with her family, she still has a ways to go in her recovery.. She has almost all her movement back but needs to work on gaining her strength as she is still bound to a wheelchair. Thankfully the rehab facility has accepted her and she will be going there starting April 1st. The hope is that they will work with her many hours a day and she will be well on her way to full recovery in no time. Keep sending those healing thoughts! ❤
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Wow! Dena has made amazing progress this week. We are all so thankful to see her making such great strides. Among her improvements, she can now straighten both legs and is getting some abdominal strength back. This is all amazing news! The doctors think she may have had a blood clot in her spinal cord and this is what caused all her issues. The doctors are optimistic that she will recover fully. When?!? We don't know. The plan is still for her to transfer to a rehab facility but the family is still running into trouble getting her admitted. Her options are to go home with 24 hour care or go to a convalescent home (not ideal). Both scenarios will present more financial burdens.
Once again, thank you so much to everyone who has shared this page, sent love, and donated. Your support is truly invaluable.
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It might have taken nearly 3 weeks, but Dena was elated to be able to get a visit from our youngest. There is still a very long road ahead of her, but we are gaining more and more courage through the amazing acts of kindness and encouragement from everyone daily. We are still struggling to get her into a rehab facility, but we are knocking on everybdoor we can, hopefully we can get this amazing woman back home and to her classroom as soon as possible, but it wont happen easily. Keep your prayers going, and please keep sharing!
-Eryk
Dena and her new Dr. I think hes good!
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Read a Previous Update
Bill Swart
27 months ago

Do the best you can with the tools you have ! I had Polio when I was 24 years old. I had to learn how to walk again with a full leg brace, back brace and crutches. Finally made it and moved to California from Rochester, NY. No more snow for me. Got rid of the back brace, then the leg brace and crutches. Walked until I was about 85 years old. Today, it is me and the wheelchair as Post polio syndrome set in. Still believe in: Do the best you can with the tools you have.

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$14,246 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 142 people in 28 months
Created March 5, 2017
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$25
John Kyllonen
22 months ago

I wish I had more money. I'd give it all away. I sure hope you have a good recovery

RS
$1,500
Rob & Katie Stagnitta
26 months ago

We love you.

DM
$25
Debbie Mitchell
26 months ago
MT
$200
Michele Ternes
26 months ago

The Ternes Family sends prayers and healing thoughts. We all miss you!

TH
$25
Trevor Hetrick
26 months ago
$100
Anonymous
27 months ago
BP
$100
Brandon Pratt
27 months ago
JG
$200
James Giraudo
27 months ago

You are all in my prayers

MP
$100
Mary Palmer
27 months ago
CG
$50
christina gray
27 months ago
Bill Swart
27 months ago

Do the best you can with the tools you have ! I had Polio when I was 24 years old. I had to learn how to walk again with a full leg brace, back brace and crutches. Finally made it and moved to California from Rochester, NY. No more snow for me. Got rid of the back brace, then the leg brace and crutches. Walked until I was about 85 years old. Today, it is me and the wheelchair as Post polio syndrome set in. Still believe in: Do the best you can with the tools you have.

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