Sister's Medical Bills

Hello to all,

Nikki was diagnosed with blood clots in her lungs back in late February and spent a week in the hospital. She was/is on blood thinners and has finally gotten her counts to a therapeutic level. For a while, there was no answer as to why these clots developed. She did not have any of the typical risk factors. All her tests came back negative. So the doctors sent her home to stay on blood thinners for a few months.

After some time, Nikki went to go see a specialist at UNC Chapel HIll to do some further testing. These tests still did not prove or show why these clots were formed.

On June 11, Nikki had a severe episode with her heart, which was linked to the blood clots in her lungs. She was transported by ambulance from the Watuaga Medical Center in Boone to CMC Medical center here in Charlotte. Upon arrival, the doctors did all kinds of tests to try an diagnose why the clots had formed. They discovered that when she holds her left arm up it cuts off some of the blood supply to her arm. Due to this, She has some damage to vessels in her left shoulder.

The doctors were weighing the options available for Nikki. She might have had to have a heart catheterization and if they decided that needs to happen, she would be moved to a different hospital. They were also looking at a medical procedure that would bust up the clots in her lungs. But this definitely involved some risks.

They decided not to do the clot busting procedure due to the risks involved (mainly bleeding out). The procedure would involve dripping high powered blood thinner medicine directly on the clots and would basically make her a hemophiliac. Any cut or even minor scrape could cause massive bleeding and they could not stop it easily, if at all. At 3:30 am the next morning, Mom and Dad were awakened by a call from the hospital saying the she had become unstable. Her heart rate and blood pressure levels suddenly dropped. So they decided to immediately do the clot busting procedure so they can get rid of the clots and increase her blood flow to get her pressures back up.

The procedure worked and she stabilized. Though there are still serious clots, the heart was under much less stress and she was improving greatly.

This is a quote from my Dad's facebook. "Just spoke with the vascular surgeon and he will take Nikki back to insert the catheter into her left shoulder and they will begin applying the thrombolytic drug to the area of her clot. This will take up to 48 hours. They want to be very cautious not to get her blood too thin. We do not know that this area is the source of her clotting problem, but getting this done is just one more step toward resolving these issues.

An echo cardiogram this morning showed that, although the stress from the clots in her lungs has been relieved, the right side of her heart is still enlarged. It may take a while before she begins to see improvement in the heart. Because she is young, the doctors do expect her heart will return to a more normal function."

"The doctors were about to do the procedure on Nikki's arm to address the clot there when the scan showed her lung clots are still critical. That's the priority and they are now going to do the lung catheter procedure to apply the thrombolytic drug directly to those clots. There are lots of potential complications so we ask our prayer warriors to keep at it.

After months of dealing with these pulmonary emboli, we finally have a more concrete idea of where they are coming from and what we need to do...

It turns out the doctors are fairly confident now that Nikki has something called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. This occurs when the blood vessels or nerves in the space between the collarbone and first rib become compressed. This compression causes a narrowing in those vessels that lead to blood clots. It is a common condition found in people who have suffered a severe trauma (as in a car accident) or through repetitive use... Typically the kind of use athletes are engaged in... The doctor specifically mentioned softball, shot put, and gymnastics... All sports that Nikki played in middle school and high school. Nikki has reported just about every symptom that comes with this syndrome at one time or another.

The repair for this involves surgery to remove both of her first ribs (the thoracic ribs). It is a surgery that has been successful in athletes who returned to play top level sports.

We still need to address the clot in her shoulder and then give her heart some time to rest. The first shoulder surgery will probably not take place for a couple of weeks. A second one would happen later. The doctor said he saw no reason why she couldn't have both done before returning to college in the fall.

Please pray that we can get that final clot taken care of and that her recovery will go smoothly so the heart can get some rest. Pray that she will be able to have the surgery in a reasonable time frame. Pray that her recovery from the first surgery will go smoothly so we can get to the second one. And... Please pray the God is glorified in everything and that this will only pave the way for His fame to be spread."

"Nikki had a catheter placed in her arm this morning through which they will administer more clot busting drugs to the DVT in her shoulder. The catheter will stay in for as long as 48 hours... But the doctors think probably less. As soon as the clot dissolves, we will begin to discuss her discharge and scheduling for surgery to repair the damaged area in her shoulder. We expect that will happen in about two weeks."

"Praise the Lord! The clot in Nikki's arm is gone! This is the news we've been waiting for all day. Now, the final piece of the immediate puzzle will involve another echocardiogram to check out the pressure in her heart and lungs. If things look stable, we'll begin talking about going home!

She still has a couple rounds of surgery ahead of her... We'll go after the left shoulder first... Then the right one."

After 2 more nights, her heart improved enough for her to go home. She would be continuing the blood thinners and she was instructed to take it very easy so she can get some rest in order to have stable enough levels and low stress levels to have the rib surgeries.

She went back to the hospital for a check up on July 9th. Nikki had her echocardiogram and it turns out that her heart is still very stressed. The pressure in her lungs is still high and surgery is definitely not an option for right now. The doctors have given her a prescription medication which will help to lower her heart rate and hopefully give her heart a chance to rest better.

She met with the vascular surgeon about her problems. The ultrasound of her shoulder showed no new blood clots forming and he believes that issue is stable as long as she remains on her blood thinner medication. It is her heart problems that are of much more concern for the time being. Tomorrow we will meet with a cardiologist who will discuss with us some follow-up plans.

We do not believe there will be any surgery to correct her shoulder issue for at least several weeks... maybe even months.

This was the last report, "I don't know how to begin... So I'll just tell the facts for now.

We met with a cardiac pulmonary specialist today. He may be the best doctor we've spoken with to date. (And that's saying something... Because we have had GREAT doctors!) He sees that Nikki is not only not getting better... She's getting worse.

After looking at her entire case file, the only logical answer is that she has chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH). This happens when clots in the lungs harden and do not go away through the body's normal process. Those hardened clots are making it difficult for the heart to pump blood through the lungs and back to her heart to go to the rest of her body. A human heart should have a left side that is much larger than the right side. But because of the severe pressures, Nikki's right side is nearly double the size of her left side. The doctors keep telling us this is very rare... Especially for someone so young!

The critical thing here is for those pressures to be relieved so her heart can get back to normal. But, that will not happen now without intervention.

On Monday, she will have a heart catheterization to measure the cardiac output and then they'll most likely start her on a very powerful class of drugs designed to break up those hardened clots. This definitely carries some side effects that we are looking into. But, the need is serious enough that we are ready to move forward.

If the medications do not work, surgery to remove those clots would be the next step. And... That would be in San Diego.

Please pray... We believe the Lord is answering prayers... But He isn't answering them in the way we expected! For now, we are grateful to know that what Nikki is experiencing has a name and can be addressed."

So as you can imagine, this is taking an incredible toll on the family, especially mom and dad. Stress levels are high and nerves are high. Mom and dad, and the rest of the family know the severity of the situation for the most part, but we are not trying to make a big deal about it for Nikki's sake. But please know this is extremely dangerous, especially if she needs to undergo surgery in San Diego.

Hearts are heavy, but we KNOW THAT GOD IS IN CONTROL. He is our healer and our redeemer. He is the Great physician and our Shepherd. We put our faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ and know that through Him and Him alone, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.

As you can imagine, the mdeical bills are VERY expensive. Yes, they do have medical insurance, and we are extremely thankful for that, but this is still such a burden on my parents, financially and emotionally.

My goal is to raise ATLEAST $5000 for them. This money would go to support their medical expenses and potential flight to San Diego if she has the open heart surgery. We ask that you give what the Lord lays on your heart and give faithfully. Please do not take this lightly, pray about the amount you desire to give.

We thank you for your donations and your continual support in prayer.

God Bless!

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Zach Wright
Charlotte, NC

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