My beautiful wife, Dustina (on the right), is one of most generous, open-hearted people I have ever known. She is an amazing woman, a beautiful picture of victim to survivor to activist. For 14 years, she has been working for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault as an advocate, as a trainer of advocates, and as a speaker at many regional and national conferences. And now, this tireless fighter needs help in fighting a completely different battle. Any help you can give is greatly appreciated.
At a conference in late 2010, Dustina began to notice that she was having difficulty walking and standing for long periods of time. Her left leg would stop working for no apparent reason. A few months later, in one terrifying week, she lost 70% of her vision and had to have emergency sheath fenestration of her optical nerve. But the pressure in her brain continued to build. She was diagnosed with pseudotumor cerebri and discovered to have a chiari malformation of her brain. After 19 spinal taps to relieve the pressure, she had surgery to implant a stent in her brain to drain off the excess spinal fluid. As she recovered from that surgery, her ability to walk became more impaired. First, she could only walk as far as the living room to the kitchen, then only from the bed to the bathroom. A walker helped briefly but then her arms and hands started losing strength. She began to use a wheelchair sometimes, then half of the time, and by summer of 2012, full time. But, the medical team that she worked with was determined to find the underlying causes and that was enough to keep hope alive.
February 2013, without any notice, Dustina's employer eliminated her position and the subsequent loss of health insurance meant the loss of access to the medical team. At her last visit before the insurance ran out, her neurologist recommended that the Mayo Clinic was the next logical step. She would even advocate for Dustina to receive an assessment, diagnosis, and treatment without charge through a special program.
But even with their services pro bono, a trip to the Mayo Clinic means other expenses: travel there and back; lodging during the stay; food; and as I would have to go with her as an aide, the expenses of home for a month (rent, utilities, insurance for our accessible van). We have gone through all of our savings already covering medical bills and prescriptions. We do not know what you can do but any help you can give will be greatly appreciated and any funds raised that we do not end up needing will be donated to the domestic violence shelter where Dustina first went as a client and later worked in as an advocate. Thank you so much for opening your heart and reading this.
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