The purpose of this campaign is to raise money for Kate Howard to have brain surgery later this year. Yes, brain surgery. This operation could be life changing - in a good way.
Many of us know Kate as a singer-songwriter, a live music superfan, a visual artist, a thoughtful friend, and an absolute goofball. What you might not know about Kate is that she has a incurable condition called Cervical Dystonia.
What is Dystonia?
Dystonia is a movement disorder, like Parkinson's and Essential Tremor (which is what Katharine Hepburn had). Dystonia is a neuromuscular condition, and it causes a host of problems: muscle spasms involuntary muscle movement limited range of motion twisting of the neck, back and torso chronic and, at times, debilitating pain Kate's friends and family have watched her deal with this condition for years. Medication helped for a while, but it's starting to lose its effectiveness. Imagine how bad something must be for you to WANT brain surgery to help it.
Why is this campaign necessary?
After losing several jobs for health reasons, Kate applied for Disability Insurance in November 2017. Her application was denied; she appealed; and that was denied. Now, she's waiting for a court date, which might take another 6 months. She's not allowed to work in the interim; so, she's being supported by family members, to whom she's enormously grateful.
When Kate's Dystonia "episodes" started becoming more frequent last fall, she decided to take her doctor's advice and have Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery. The stats she was given were that she has a 50% chance of getting 60-80% better. With diligent research and self-advocacy, Kate has patched together most of the funding through HAAM, a house concert, and other music-related nonprofits. She has health insurance, but she will still have some out-of-pocket medical expenses, plus living expenses during a 6- to 8-week recovery.
By contributing to this campaign, you can help ease Kate's pain and relieve some of the financial strain on her and her family while she recovers from surgery.
What is this surgery?
This surgery - Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) - could significantly lessen Kate's symptoms, providing dramatic improvements in her quality of life and her ability to work a steady job again and continue making music and art.
Kate's surgeon, Dr. Anant Patel, has performed this operation approximately 600 times. He says it's the least invasive neurosurgery on the planet, and that it's "real sci-fi shit". Electrodes will be placed on Kate's brain; the leads from those electrodes will be connected to a device that's just a little larger than a book of matches. This device acts like a brain pacemaker, suppressing the excessive nervous impulses that cause Kate's muscles spasms, neck and body torsion, and involuntary movements; in the weeks and months following the surgery, Kate's neurologist, Dr. Elizabeth Peckham, will calibrate the device using a remote control to get the best possible result, which will enable Kate to lead as normal a life as a gal with a twisted sense of humor can enjoy.
Will she answer to "RoboKate"?
When is the surgery? How do we get updates on Kate's condition?
DBS actually involves two surgeries: the first involves the placement of the electrodes on the brain. The second surgery is when the device itself is implanted. The date of the surgeries have not yet been set. Kate needs to visit her neurologist first. Dr. Peckham is so beloved that Kate has had to wait months for an appointment. She'll see the good doc in late June. The surgery will likely be in late August or early September. The date will be posted in the updates on this GoFundMe campaign as well as on FB. Kate will take a much-needed break from social media after the surgery. She will designate a few friends as her social media representatives; they will post in this GoFundMe campaign, on FB and on Instagram with news of Kate's recovery.
What will the money donated cover?
The surgical center where the DBS surgery will take place is in network for Kate, as is Dr. Peckham. That is why she selected the insurance plan she did. This will save her thousands of dollars. The neurosurgeon is not in network, however. She chose him because he is considered the best in the region. Plus, the hospital has dedicated machinery for this specific surgery that makes the placement of the electrodes as precise as possible. The more precise the electrode placement, the better the possibility of a positive outcome for the patient. Money donated to this campaign will cover:paying the neurosurgeon for both surgeries co-pays for visits to the neurologist to calibrate the device medication co-pays for the facility for both surgeries (this covers the anesthesiologists, overnight hospital stay, MRI, medication, etc.) Kate's living expenses for up to two months while she recovers Note: Any money raised by this campaign, beyond that needed for the surgeries and Kate's expenses during her recovery, will go towards completing Kate's aptly-titled debut album, "The Best Medicine". Kate recorded it live for an audience at Tiny T Ranch in April 2018. Co-produced by Kate, Kacy Crowley, and Ben Jones, the band includes Mr. Jones, Jeff Plankenhorn, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Noelle Hampton, and Steve Schwelling. The rough mixes sound great. However, the record still needs to be mixed and mastered, and the artwork needs to be created.
Your contributions are greatly appreciated by Kate, her family, her friends, and her fans.