This campaign is for my beloved wife, Carol. She was clinically diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis on February 16, 2016 after having suffered bilateral optic neuritis for five weeks. Optic Neuritis is when you lose partial or full vision and bi-lateral made it rare because it means both of her eyes were affected. In Carol’s case she lost over 50% of her vision for 5 weeks, after which she gradually recovered over 85%. This incident, we later discovered, was an attack of an unpredictable & disabling disease known as Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system, (brain, spinal cord, optic nerves). On a daily basis, Carol suffers numbness, brain fog, muscular incoordination, nerve pain, blurred/loss of vision and severe constant fatigue. There is no cure for MS.
My growing concern for Carol’s wellbeing drove me to research endlessly for days, nights turning into weeks without end. A dozen doctor/specialist visits and 7 MRI studies later Carol began a strict regimen of three injections a week. I learned to inject her with Copaxone, which does not cure MS, however is the maintenance drug exhibiting the least amount of side effects. Maintenance MS drugs are engineered to keep you from having new attacks/relapses and keep MS from spreading. Sadly, there is not a single maintenance drug that works 100% of the time. Add that any attack/relapse is very bad due to the fact that recovery is never back to 100% and there is no guarantee you will recover at all.
Despite following a strict painful battery of 3 injections a week for over 9 months, Carol suffered a second relapse in September of 2016 which required her to be rushed into the ER and remain hospitalized for three days. In January of 2017, she suffered a third relapse which came to light when she underwent her first MRI of 2017 (8th in less than one calendar year) which showed brain lesions and damage that grew to 11mm from December 2016 to January of 2017, showing evidence of active demyelination.
Demyelination is a key symptom of MS. All of our nerves have a protective sheath or cover called myelin which is similar to speaker/HDMI wires. When you have MS your own immune system attacks and destroys this protective cover leaving the bare nerve exposed which causes it to become temperature sensitive, unstable and begins to misfire or stops working, causing neurological problems across the entire body. Nerves without myelin affect your brain function, memory retention, walking, hand coordination, arm movement, sight, sense of smell and simple yet everyday survival functions such as the ability to go to the restroom becomes an issue.
There is hope! A cutting edge medical treatment, in Chicago, IL, called Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT) has proven to halt the progression of MS. The HSCT process reboots your immune system using chemotherapy and your own bone marrow stem cells. Most people are denied after waiting several months yet Carol’s application was fast tracked through the process and accepted by the Doctors at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Doctors at Northwestern chose her due to the active demyelination and how aggressive and widespread the disease showed in her MRI studies. Dr. Burt, the lead doctor, does NOT easily approve applicants, which is why we were so excited to learn of her approval!
The process takes place over a 2 month period, involving multiple flights from our home state of Texas to Chicago, IL. Your contribution will help with the accumulating medical bills, travel expenses, lodging expenses, medication expenses, living expenses as well as insurance deductibles while we seek treatment in Chicago. Inherent to this treatment is a prolonged post procedure recovery Carol will endure, under strict restrictions having a brand new immune system. We are now currently awaiting insurance approval.
As a wife, mother, sister, daughter, public school teacher and school counselor, Carol looked to help and serve others but now she needs our help. Carol needs your help.
Every contribution helps and is whole heartedly appreciated. We sincerely thank you for all the love and support. Thank you for reading.
- Christy Brechner
- Karen Griffiths Temple