Sarah's Road to Recovery

My sister Sarah is 22 years old. She and her wife, Tammara, live in Pine City, Minnesota, with 1 dog (Barnaby, a Boston Terrier), 2 cats (Maggie and Jack) and 2 foster babies (one 11 month old and one 5 month old). Sarah has done foster care for Pine County for over a year now and has had both babies since they were born- straight out of the hospital. She loves them as if they were her own.

Tammara and Sarah, on their wedding day.

Sarah has always put others needs ahead of her own. She loves to cook and care for Tam and her foster kids, loves to care for animals, and will do anything for friends and family without a single complaint. She always has a smiling face. If she's sick, she will ignore it and work through it.

Sarah with her neice (our sister Pam's daughter), Evangeline.

Sarah has had intestinal problems for several years. Celiac's disease runs in her father's family so she assumed it could be that. Last year (2016), she saw a doctor, whom said it was just irritable bowels (IBS). Thus, Sarah simply lived with the pain and discomfort and used the bathroom an increased amount. We remember Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinners as a family. She would frequently run to use the restroom and had consistent cramps, but she kept smiling and dealt with the pain.

This past June, our dad, Kenneth Youngquist, who had suffered from glioblastoma (brain cancer) since 2012, took a turn for the worst and Sarah's pain took a turn as well. But she continued ignoring it, choosing to be with family during dad's passing on, all the while still taking care of the two babies. Our dad died on June 27th, all of us siblings were present with our spouses and our mom. At this point, Sarah's abdominal pain had progressed severely.

Finally, through some bullying by our mom, Sarah was scheduled for a colonoscopy. She had a referral from going to the emergency room a week before, also caused by some necessary pushing from mom. Her colonoscopy, on the 3rd of July, showed evidence of severe ulcerative colitis. She was prescribed some medication and sent home. The pain increased and so did her vomiting, fever and massive weight loss. She had already lost 30 pounds in less than a month.

Dad's funeral was on July 8th. Three days following (July 11th), once again being badgered both mom and Tammara, Sarah had an appointment scheduled with a GI specialist in Plymouth. He prescribed stronger medication, Prednisone (a steroid) and anti-nausea pills. He gave some basic education on ulcerative colitis and followed it up with a scheduled return visit 3 months out. He left an email address to ask any questions and guaranteed a quick response.

Sarah's sickness progressed and she became much weaker. She could no longer take care of the babies, so Tam set up respite care for each of them. Meanwhile, Sarah, it being her fourth visit to the emergency room, was finally admitted. She went to the ER at the hospital in Sandstone, MN, and was soon transferred to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids by ambulance. Even after she was given strong doses of Dilaudid, she continued to be in severe pain.

Once at Mercy Hospital, she was put on a cocktail of several pain meds, to include Morphine, Percocet and Tofranil. It barely managed her pain. The CT scans, which were done at each ER visit prior had shown nothing unusual concerning any of her internal organs. They did, however, show swelling in her colon. At this point, Sarah's sickness had progressed to fevers of over 104°, chest pain with elevated heart rate (over 160 bpm) and difficulty breathing. Not long into her stay, the lactate levels in her blood elevated significantly, which resulted in her testing positive for sepsis. Still, CT scans and ultrasounds showed no absess or infected areas. Several EKGs and eko cardiograms showed everything seemed just fine.

With the discovery of sepsis in her blood, Sarah was transferred to the ICU, but was put back into a regular room the following day. On August 1st, her ninth day after being admitted to Mercy, she had a digital rectal exam done. The scope showed that her colon was deteriorating. A GI surgeon spoke with the family to advise immediate surgery to remove the entire colon on that very same day, to be scheduled at 3:15 pm. After asking several questions, Sarah, Tammara, and mom all agreed it was the best option.

Sarah, just before surgery.

During the procedure, the surgeon, Dr. Samy Maklad, found that her colon was fuzed to her abdominal wall. Upon pulling it away, he found the tissue had died and the colon burst open, spilling stool. The procedure, which had begun as laparoscopic, had no other option but to proceed to cut her open to finish. The estimated time of 2 hours became a 4 hour process. Following the operation, Dr. Maklad met with the family, explaining the entire process. "Poor girl." he added, "No wonder she was in so much pain."

Sarah, after surgery.

At this point, Sarah is still recovering at Mercy Hospital. She generally felt much better without the colon; an ileostomy bag temporarily being in place of it. Three days following surgery, she is still in ICU and is back in pain; losing blood, feeling faint, losing vision.

Sarah is still not better. This has become a battle for her life.

In the meantime, Sarah has lost both babies; the county will not wait for her recovery even though Tammara has been paying for respite care. Sarah is heartbroken.

Tammara has been by her side every day, eating and sleeping at the hospital. Mom, in addition, has stayed there every day.

Due to this devastating situation, neither Sarah or Tammara have been able to work. Sarah thankfully does have medical assistance, but unpaid bills are accumulating and their house is in trouble. I'm opening up this fundraiser in hopes that your generosity and gifts will assist through these hard times during her slow stroll on the road to recovery. We, as a family, have greatly appreciated and felt all of the love, heartfelt thoughts and prayers thus far.

I'm admittedly terrible with updates, but will do my best to keep you all up to date. Sarah is an unbelievable fighter. That, for sure, runs in the family. Again, I can't express enough how much your generosity means to us. Thank you for all of your continued support.

Doug Youngquist


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Organizer and beneficiary

Doug Youngquist 
Saint Francis, MN
Sarah Bebensee 
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