When I heard of Allison dramatically changing her living situation to pay these bills and taking on an extra part-time job that requires her to go into the office during this pandemic--a serious risk to her fragile health--I asked her if she would be ok with me starting this GoFundMe. We both know everyone is stretched very thin right now, but she could really use our collective financial support. If you have anything to spare, please donate. No amount is too small and even a share would be a great help. This will be (and already has been) a long road for Allison, but I am hoping we can shorten it just a little for her. Together I think we can help this very strong and caring person out, as she has helped so many of us with her friendship over the years! Thank you so much.
**all funds will go directly to Allison - please ignore the confusing bit that says your donation will benefit me, Nadia**
My decline in health started around October of 2019.
A small group of family and friends went on a trip to Japan for 2 weeks and we were all very excited to go. However about 3 days in, I was unable to eat or sleep. Foods were starting to smell weird and at times I couldn’t even drink water. Anything I didn’t force myself to eat either violently came back up or took me out for most of the day.
When I got back home, my primary care doctor noticed my thyroid was extremely enlarged. A few more doctor visits later, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease. Pretty much my thyroid was over producing hormones at a dangerously high level, which caused me to dramatically drop weight, lose my hair, and experience bouts of nausea depending on what I ate.
Near the end of December, I started experiencing new symptoms; I would wake up in the middle of the night and be completely wired or have my heart racing. This became very tiresome over the weeks into January and my mood swings steadily became worse. Mid January, there would be afternoons and evenings where my body would get so cold that my lips turned blue and all I could do to stay warm was throw myself into boiling (quite literally at times) baths. I would bring my new symptoms up to my thyroid doctor and we would adjust the medicines accordingly, but I never really saw any improvement.
Finally, the last week of January came. I was on my last leg physically and mentally. My mother moved in temporarily to watch over me since my health wasn’t improving. On the 26th, she decided to take me to Johns Hopkins ER, I was so mentally out of it and I couldn’t even answer basic questions to the attendants. They stuck me in a wheel chair with blankets to keep me warm. For 13 hours I sat. Every once in a while, the triage nurses took me to the side to get blood drawn, and I watched as people were called back to either be seen by the doctors or to be escorted to their rooms. It became apparent by the lack of response from the medical staff that my life was not in imminent danger, so at 3 am we drove back home.
The next night at 2:30 am, I nearly jolted out of bed. My heart was pounding so hard it felt like it would burst out of my chest. I was panicked, shaking and could not get myself to fall back asleep. So I stayed awake for the next hour and a half praying my heart would slow down. All I remember is looking over at my mom saying, “take me to the local hospital” and feeling like I was going to pass out from my overworking heart.
At my local hospital’s ER, and this time refusing to get in the wheelchair, I went in and exclaimed that my heart had not stopped racing for hours. My mom handled the front desk, who desperately wanted me to fill out forms per protocol, while the new triage nurse took me back to go over my vitals. I already knew I was being taken seriously by how swift and thorough these nurses and doctors responded. I was admitted to the hospital right away. The triage nurse was shocked by how low my blood pressure was and how extremely high my heart rate was. In fact, everyone was surprised I walked into the hospital and wasn’t already passed out or, worse, dead. I met with gastros, endos and cardiologists for the next 24 hours. But the moment I remember most was when I was in the hospital room and I looked at my sister in law, who is an ICU nurse, and plainly said, “it’s about to happen again, and I can feel it.” This was the first time I was able to tell my body was about to go into cardiac shock, and it terrified her.
I was rushed down to the ICU where a team of nurses tried to get IVs in my arms, failing multiple times, resulting in a femoral vein IV. I remember being in a big room surrounded by my family and everyone crying, and to be honest, at the time I figured it was stress. I did not understand it was actually due to the high chance that these were my last minutes of life. I was told I was being transferred to a bigger, high tech cardiac unit in Baltimore, UMMC via helicopter. I waited for another three hours, becoming so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open. I remember entering the back of the helicopter and one of the nurses saying, "Don’t fall asleep." Unfortunately, I did, not fully understanding the implications of her warning.
We arrived and I only woke when I heard elevator dings. The EKG tech continued telling me to stay awake during the prelim exams in my new room, but it was especially difficult. I eventually got introduced to the head cardiologist who was very patient and explained that my heart was only working at 17% EF. Any EF lower would result in my death. The reason they didn’t want me to sleep was due to the heart rate decreasing during sleep. They were afraid that it would stop. My heart beats were so far apart the doctors were stunned. They were all surprised about how long I’d been dealing with these symptoms and that I had survived this long.
I was put on a lot of drugs, had MRIs, multiple scans done, more EKGs, and a biopsy performed during the next 5 days. I could hardly eat I was so nauseas and all I wanted to do was sleep. I lost over 20 lbs during my hospital stay.
Since my leave, I have gotten stronger, I have drastically changed my diet and outlook on life. I am doing ok physically, though I continue to need a lot of medical treatment to monitor and keep my heart working. It is still unclear what caused it all and how, exactly, I can keep it under control moving forward with my life.
The one thing I continue to struggle with is the hospital and medical bills. I have accumulated over $90,000 in bills between all of my hospital and doctor visits, medications, and continued scans and surgeries. I need help.
- Kyle Williams
- Liz Herb
- Isabella Edler
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