Our mother has made countless sacrifices to raise her six children. She and our father instilled in us, that we can pursue anything in life and that they will support us to know that we are happy.
In March 2014, our mother’s illness began with a very sudden and unexpected trip to the emergency room at Guam Memorial Hospital for lower back pain and loss of sensation to her legs. This is when she became bedridden and on a ventilator with a diagnosis for Guillain-Barré syndrome. In this condition, our mother’s immune system was attacking her nervous system causing our mother’s paralysis. We have all become skilled in lip reading as this is how we now communicate with our mother. We are blessed that she is alert and carries same positive attitude that pushed us to succeed in life.
In hopes to further understand our mother’s condition and to seek further treatment options, she was medically referred to Asian Hospital and Medical Center in the Philippines in April. Our father travelled with her as an escort. Not knowing the duration of this trip, our two younger brothers, Joaquin and Jacob, were sent to San Diego to live with our eldest sibling, Jon. In the Philippines, our mother’s diagnosis was updated to transverse myelitis. This is a rare inflammatory disease that causes damage to parts of the spinal cord. This means that involuntary functions that control the heart and breathing are weakened. Doctors used powerful antibiotics and ran numerous tests, but our mother’s condition persisted.
Understanding that there is nothing that the hospital could do for our mother, it was her wish to return to Saipan at the end of July. She is currently still back home in a stable, but non-progressive status. Our father remains at her side tirelessly spending days and nights in her hospital room.
There is one examination, however, that our mother has not undergone. Every hospital that our mother was treated at lacked the capability to conduct a magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, of her spine. In our mother’s rare condition, many hospitals are not equipped with a ventilator that could be placed in the MRI machine. This missing piece of diagnostic data will provide vital information for any further treatment and care.
Never losing hope, we have located a facility in San Diego that has this capability and can provide long-term care for our mother, if it may become necessary. Having been cleared for air travel, our mother is now on the waitlist for travel to Hawaii with follow-on travel to San Diego. This type of travel requires a special aircraft that can accommodate a stretcher. Additionally, our mother’s condition requires a team of medical professionals to escort and care for her during travel. These all come with a very hefty cost, even with medical insurance.
We want nothing more than to give back to our mother and to be able to help her when she needs us the most. It has been over a year now since her condition ensued and we truly believe we are closer than ever to getting our mother the proper medical attention she so requires. Understanding the cost of medical care, our gratitude towards any amount you can contribute is beyond expression.
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