Gina needs chemo and possibly another surgery. My wife and kids are my world, it’s so hard watching my wife in pain every day. We hope these are the last things she has to face, she makes it through ok and then maybe she can return to her “normal” life. She feels so guilty thinking she has taken from our kids by being sick. I tell her all the time, it’s not her fault she’s sick!
When her disability switched from short term to long term there was a delay, she didn’t get paid for 10 weeks and things that should have happened in August didn’t start until November. In her confusion, we were 6 weeks late on paying health insurance premiums. We lost coverage and have been fighting to get it back ever since. All of her appointments, medications (one alone is over $1000/month), Matty’s broken arm, with no insurance coverage. We have exhausted all of our financial back ups, retirement, savings, credit. Our families have helped more than I could’ve ever imagined. She recently spent a week trying to get swelling down, edema is not normal for her and she’s so afraid that it could be a sign of her cancer. She needs medical treatment. The insurance company has offered a one time opportunity, they will give us back our coverage if we back pay to January 1. We don’t have the exact figured they want yet, but I do know we are running out of time and options. I work for a small business, if I were to get coverage for our family it would cost more on both the front and back end as well as raise every other employees premium. Insurance companies don’t want to cover someone like my wife. Please help if you can! Every penny helps! If you can’t afford to help, I completely understand, could you please share our link with as many people as you can?
Gina’s main doctor, Dr. Christopher Osborn was recently murdered in Dublin, OH. If you have a doctor you love please send us the info. She needs someone on their game.
My schedule has some openings for vehicle detailing too! I can do the best detail your car has ever seen!
Below is her recent medical story to date;
When you’re sick, flu, cold, whatever, there comes the point where you just think “I can’t wait to be normal again! Sick of being sick!” That’s how I feel right now, so sick of being sick.
May 2012 I left work early to go to the ER for a left lower abdominal pain that was progressing throughout the day. I didn’t think it was anything serious, but I wanted to make sure. I received a CT, found I had diverticulitis and a lump that may be cancerous. More frightened by the diverticulitis at this point, afraid my colon would explode, I focused on that.
My family doctor fumbled the ball on the lump. I eventually had a mammogram, woohoo, no breast cancer! I thought I was in the clear, but scheduled a biopsy. On Friday, 6/29/2012, just hours before the Derecho hit Columbus, the day before my daughter’s 5th birthday party, I received a call. You have cancer. Lymphocyte Prodominate Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
The treatment was debilitating. I was off work for quite a while. My friends and family pulled together to help me. Chemo worked! It had shrunk my lumps. They will always grow back, but it could be anywhere from 2 to 20 years. I prayed that it would be the 20 years! I was so blessed to be alive, my husband, two year old son and my now kindergartener were healthy and I was on my way to getting healthy again myself! Except the debilitating pain they told me would go away kept hold.
I returned to work. I went to the chiropractor, got the cortisone injections, did physical therapy, pain meds, nerve ablation. Through the years my pain increased to the point that I had to walk with a cane, every step was pain, sitting in a chair, lying in bed, so much pain! Doctor after doctor after doctor blew me off. I’m a fat woman, not huge, but by no means skinny. They all made the assumption it was my weight causing the issue. Finally one doc scheduled an MRI, sure there was nothing serious and wanted to prove it to me.
I was at my parents house that weekend. They live in the boonies, no cell service. On my way back home my phone starting going nuts! It was an on-call surgeon from Riverside Hospital. His repeated voice mails were explaining that I needed to get to the hospital A.S.A.P.! Every single disc in my spine, top to bottom, is bulging, except for one. That one, in the thoracic, (bra line area) had exploded and was pinching my spine. I needed emergency surgery! WTF! Finally some validation, but I was scared to death. Out of work on disability, again. My parents and husband took me in, my in laws had my babies. I got settled in a room, my sister came in moments before a surgeon. Definitely not the guy on my voicemails! This cocky prick tells me I have a 30% chance of walking unassisted for the remainder of my life. Told me we had already waited this long, why the emergency, come to his office next week. I was devastated. God did send me an angel in that moment, thank you Miss Vicky! She told me to look forward, don’t let this man crush me! We prayed. She gave me her doctors info, Dr. Chris Osborn. I wanted a second opinion!
My first step was to go back to the surgeon who did my cortisone injections. I brought my MRI disc and printout. He tells me not to worry about the thoracic explosion. We needed to focus on the lumbar, lower back, because that will give me more pain relief. When I asked about the thoracic, I was worried about becoming paralyzed, he said “Don’t worry. It’s not like you’re going to become paralyzed walking down the street.”. So, I proceeded with the lumbar back surgery. The doc told me my surgery was more than twice the expected time, my discs were calcified to the point he had to chisel as if they were stone. It’s surgery, so it’s painful to recover and go through rehabilitation, but I was focused! I needed to move on from this and get back to my life!
The pain didn’t stop, it only seemed to get worse! How was this possible? We lost the house to foreclose and had to move. I was practically worthless. I fell over more times than I care to count that day. The cold, moisture, pressure, activity, everything seemed to increase the pain.
Now this is the part of my story that gets really hard for me, so I feel I need to give a bit more detail. I lost myself between this point and now. Maybe if I can find where I lost me, maybe I can go back there and find myself.
It’s been a horrible night of pain, tossing and turning, no position brings relief. 3:30, awesome, work is gonna suck today. Might as well go to the bathroom. With effort I stand, take one step and immediately fall straight down. That woke up my husband, Jimmy, he helped me get up, I shuffled sideways to the bathroom and back. Lay back down and start to doze. Go to roll over, my legs won’t move. No more pain from the waist down, but no movement either. Friday, February 12, 2016, the day before my son’s 6th birthday party, I woke up paralyzed. There are no words to describe how that moment felt. “Babe, I can’t move my legs. I can’t fucking move my legs!” I call Dr. Osborn, he told me to call the squad. We didn’t. I didn’t want to scare the kids. Somehow, we got my body dragged, pushed and pulled into the van, then dropped them off at my in laws’.
Once we got to OSU hospital we thought we could get me out and into a wheelchair. Not smart. I fell out of the van. Spinal cord injuries cause you to fall straight down in stead of backward or forward. Jimmy later told me the angle of my legs was pretty disturbing.
It’s a blur from that point because I was so embarrassed. I know several hospital staff were suddenly there, helping me get onto a gurney. Rushing me down halls. Tests, game plan formed, time for surgery that evening. I remember praying and sobbing that Jimmy and the kids would be ok if I didn’t make it as the meds took effect and I was out. I wake up in the OR to the anesthesiologist and surgeon saying my name and close to my face. WTF? Apparently, I aspirated shortly after being anesthetized. My surgeon told me if we didn’t try again that night, I would be paralyzed from the waist down for the remainder of my life. Then the anesthesiologist told me his opinion, if we try again that night, he’s afraid I won’t make it. They let me call Jimmy, he was home packing a bag for me. In shock, asked me if he could think and call me back in a few , no. I talked it over with my whole surgical team and decided that surgery would have to wait because I know that my death is an unacceptable future for my babies and husband. I don’t know what a paralyzed mom and wife would look like for all of us, but it was better to be at the sidelines than have them mourning.
Dr. Thoman, my main surgeon, gave the news to my mom and Jimmy, he explained that most people would rather die than be paralyzed. My whole surgical team was touched, impressed and determined! They all came in the next day, every one of them scheduled off, it was a Saturday. Dr. Thoman rearranged his vacation departure plans. All of them came in to give me the best chance I could have of ever walking again. 15 hour surgery, thoracotomy and spinal repair. They cut an incision on my right side about 2” behind the bottom of my breast around to about 2” right of my spine. A rib separator broke my ribs, then my lung was deflated to access the front of my spine. I know they removed debris from the “exploded” disc but, to this day, I don’t know exactly what they from there. Thank you to everyone who prayed for me during this time! It’s because of God and those determined doctors that I made it through!
The next thing I remember is extreme pain. I opened my eyes. I was looking at a wall with strange designs, equipment everywhere, unable to move, unable to talk. I could hear two voices, I then realized that were changing my diaper, I’m fully exposed to complete strangers. I was petrified! My brain couldn’t process all this. I was still intubated, tubes everywhere. My wrists were secured to the bed to ensure I didn’t rip anything out in my confusion. I could still feel nothing from the waist down and everything from the waist up was the worst pain of my life. I have never felt more helpless, trapped, confused, afraid, and thirsty. I was in and out of consciousness, vivid dreams, most involved water in some form. The only way I could decipher reality was a ballon that Jimmy had gotten me with the words “I LOVE YOU!”. I had no concept of time.
I think I was in a drug induced coma for several days. Once I was coherent, it was a day or two and I could move my left big toe. Then all of them, eventually got my foot to push against the doctors’ hands, my right side significantly weaker. My tubes were removed after 10 days, then I drank so much ice water that I had to eat huge salt pills, I had flushed too much sodium for proper brain function. Whoops. My prognosis was not precise, but positive with a lot of hard work and pain.
In and out of the ICU with breathing problems. Eventually got to the point that I could safely move on to a rehabilitation facility. Rehab started in the ICU and hasn’t stopped to this day. It was a slow start, just sitting up was a brutal accomplishment. I worked my ass off! I wanted to go home! On March 14th, my mom’s birthday, with the help of my PTs Kate and Matt, I stood up! After what felt like so many failures I finally did it. Kate had to step on my right foot to keep it from going behind me, which it did as soon as I looked away ever flipping time at that point. Soon after that my OT, occupational therapist, Lauren, got me in the shower!! I needed it sooooo bad, months of sponge baths and not getting my hair washed sucked. Although, Jimmy kept my legs shaved and Angelina kept my toes painted, they’re so awesome!
Once I could walk my walker around the PT room, shower, regained enough bladder control to get off the foley, use a transfer board and pull myself up the stairs, I was released. Months of being inside. The air smelled amazing, the spring flowers and trees were never more beautiful and bright, the sun and wind on my skin, I felt free!
Home was way more difficult than expected. Hindsight, I should’ve had a hospital bed. Jimmy and my mom had to help me with everything. I sobbed countless apologies and gratitude to everyone who helped me, more to those two than anyone. It has been such a long, hard, expensive road. Today, I can walk. In my home I no longer need a cane, most of the time. I worked from home for a time, but was so exhausted that my PT fell slack and has caused issues. I am currently on long term disability from my employer, which means I no longer have a job to go back to and half the pay, for now. I occasionally have accidents. I get exhausted and in pain quickly, so anything I do I need several breaks. When I first get up from sitting and my pain is high my legs don’t work properly, I call it stutter step. I do lose my balance more than average. I don’t leave the house much, but when I do, I can drive myself.
My incision is healing well. My ribs hurt most of the time, I have about a 4” square on the right side of my back that feels like a fresh, deep bruise and my spine is very sensitive. I flinch at hugs now, please no smacks. I have what I call my prego belly, from the middle of my belly to my right side, ribs to waistline, I have a hard protrusion. It looks like I’m half pregnant. This protrusion is painful and gets in the way, I need a doc to look at it. PTSD, anxiety and depression. Damn, I miss my determination, quick thinking, multitasking and independence. I want to get right so I can return to MY life, work, society, friends, INCOME!
In the fall I was told that my cancer has grown. I should have had a PET scan in the spring, after giving my body a little more time to heal, with the advisement of my oncologist to not ignore any warning signs. Well, I have recently experienced some of those warning signs. Once I get health insurance back, I plan on attacking the cancer and my prego belly.