Kathleen Smith has been diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS for short). Thoracic outlet syndrome is a group of disorders that occur when the blood vessels or nerves in the space between your collarbone and your first rib (thoracic outlet) become compressed. This can cause pain in your shoulders and neck and numbness in your fingers.
TOS can be arterial, venous and/or neurogenic; usually it's in women who played overhead sports, baseball players, healthcare workers that develop large scalene muscles in their necks and upper back. Kat was born with a very narrow outlet for the artery, veins, and nerves that feed her arms from her spine and heart. Unfortunately, she has severe vascular, arterial and venous occlusions and neurogenic, and it is on both sides. Very rare!!
As the arm lifts up (even to drive a car) the blood supply and nerves get impinged and "fall asleep". Her hands swell from a size 6 3/4 at night to a 9 in the morning. It usually takes her about 2 hours in the morning before she can start using her hands as they are in a clawlike position.
Chronic muscle spasms of the scalene muscles cause further damage by creating adhesions and bands that wrap around the nerves and vessels. Severe arterial is the most severe as she could have a stroke or have a clot shoot down her arm.
She had immediate surgery after initial diagnosis in 2001; had several shoulder surgeries after that; then she was inujred at work lifting a 500lb patient (that partially tore her bicep tendon) which created the current flare up of TOS. Went back to work but was put on medical leave in April 2013 until diagnosis could be confirmed. Since then she's been out of work and had a few minor car accidents and started having severe symptoms again. She was seen by a neurologist and vascular surgeon who confirm an extreme TOS flare. She was sent to Massachusetts General Hospital (she lives in upstate NY) where there are experts who see this illness more often. After several tests over a period of a few days, they discovered that her left rib is growing back from tissue left over from previous surgeries; except it's not growing back in the normal sense, its regenerating at will in different locations.
After her 4th shoulder surgery the orthopedic surgeons said she must have a complete right shoulder replacement in order to restore full funtion. So she will have two surgeries at Mass General - one for the shoulder relacement, one for the TOS/rib.
Kat will be having surgery on July 31st and has to stay within 10 min from Mass General for 4-7 days post op incase of any complications so she will be staying at the Mass General Hosp Hotel- Beacon House (it's the least expensive). Samantha Hopkins will fly in from AZ to take care of her as Kat's mom is too ill to travel. To make matters worse, Kat's car was totaled and her other vehicle is a gas hog SUV; she's trying to sell it now in order to get a more cost efficient vehicle to travel back and forth to Boston over the next 6-8 months. This will be a very long journey for her.
Not only will she have the travel costs to & from Mass, she has to pay out of pocket for her hotel & food, parking, cabs, etc. She pays $500/month for her Cobra insurance and will run out before these surgeries are done. She already has $119K in hospital bills. Her disability just can't cover it all.
This is where YOU come in! I'm asking(even begging) you to please donate something, anything! $5, $10, $50 - whatever! Every dime of it will help!!! Next, spread the word! Share this link with your friends, coworkers, church families, etc.
You can contact me or Sam or Kat directly; donate by name or anonymously. Sam will provide updates from the day of surgery & the days following.
Laurie - [phone redacted]
Sam - [phone redacted]
Kat - [phone redacted]
Kat has the biggest heart, and has spent her life as an RN helping others, not to mention her GTMO family! Please....let's help her out!
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