I am a 40 year old mother of three children, ages 20, 17 and 7, and a wife of 21 years. I am scheduled to have surgery on April 25, 2012 for a bowel obstruction due to endometriosis and adhesions.
Together our family owns and works Brittain Family Farm; a small, sustainable and diversified farm that serves our local community with organic food. We raise grassfed meats, free range eggs, and tend a two acre market garden with a 30'x96' hoophouse for four season vegetable production. We sell directly from our farm, run a three season CSA, and attend several farmer's markets. The farm is our family's sole income. It affords us a humble living and the rewards of working the land and providing "clean" food to a loyal and thankful customer base and is a truly rewarding endeavor!
We do not have medical insurance primarily because our income does not afford us to purchase it, but besides that, this is my third surgery for endometriosis and therefore a pre-existing condition.
I was diagnosed with Stage IV endometriosis and a frozen pelvis in 1999 after many years of debilitating pain and illness. My first surgery was not successful in removing the disease. It proved to be ineffective in relieving the daily pain and illness I was experiencing. I was so discouraged!
After my first surgery, I became incapacitated once again, unable to work and to care for my family. During this time, I began to educate myself about the disease and the severity of deep tissue and intestinal endometriosis. I researched specialists who could give me the best possible opportunity for a recovery from this horrific disease. I found only two surgeons in the U.S. who qualified for the type and severity of the endometriosis that I had!
In the spring of 2003, I contacted Dr. Charles Koh in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and requested that he evaluate my records. It was established that he could and would remove the disease I had and gave me hope to be well! I was scheduled for surgery on June 3, 2003. Dr. Koh performed a five hour laparoscopy to remove the endometriosis from my pelvis and the adhesions caused by this inflammatory disease. With the assistance of a general surgeon, Dr. Koh and Dr. Henry determined that the disease had infiltrated too much of my colon to repair through excision and chose to do a complete colectomy (removal of a section of my colon). After a five day hospital stay, Dr. Koh's parting words to me were- "You will be well." And I have been, until now (almost 9 yrs. since my last surgery). He gave me back my life and I have never looked back! I have tried very hard to live every day to my fullest potential because I always remember when I couldn't live any day beyond struggling one minute at a time to endure the pain and illness that came with the disease I had.
One year after that surgery, I conceived, carried and then delivered a beautiful baby girl. Gracie is our "undeserving gift from God". I have lived the last eight years, unrestricted by the disease. I have had regular bouts of pelvic and rectal pain from adhesions, but compared to the ill health and pain I experienced prior to my surgery in 2003 these episodes have been relatively insignificant when put into perspective with past experience. This was expected and anticipated with the extent of disease I had.
On October 3, 2011 I miscarried at 13 weeks gestation and everything changed! Emotionally I was a mess and then physically I began to experience overwhelming upper abdominal pain and tremendous digestive upset for a week at a time. It took several months, but I finally pinpointed that the pain I was experiencing was happening at the same time of month each month (two weeks after my monthly cycle). I sought Dr. Koh's medical advice once again. I have been diagnosed with yet another bowel obstruction and the extent of this obstruction cannot be determined or repaired without yet another laparoscopy. Once the surgery is underway, Dr. Koh and Dr. Henry can determine whether or not the obstruction in my colon can be repaired through dilation or if it will require another colectomy to remove the damaged section causing the obstruction. Any disease found within my pelvis and intestines will be excised during this surgery and any adhesions found will be removed. If any reproductive organs are diseased or damaged due to scarring, they will be removed also.
Our financial goal includes the estimates I have received for this surgery including Dr. Koh, Dr. Henry, and hospital fees including a hospital stay. The estimates do not include travel, hotel accommodations while away from home, and the loss of several months of work while I recover from this surgery. Nor does it include an estimate for hired labor to replace myself on the farm during recovery.
Dr. Koh $3183 (must be paid prior to surgery)
Columbia St. Mary's Hospital Milwaukee, Wisconsin $24,000
Dr. Henry $3000-$6000
Our most urgent financial need is Dr. Koh's bill which must be prepaid prior to my surgery.
At this time, the burden of the debt we face from this surgery seems overwhelming. If you find yourself able to contribute in any way to relieve our financial burden, we will be most thankful! If you know us personally and would prefer to send a check directly to us, please feel free to do so. It would also be a tremendous help if there was someone who could coordinate meals to be brought in to us, once I arrive home during the first week or two of my recovery. This would be much appreciated. I would love visits and emails! I am not a sit still kind of person and recovery is a most challenging time for me. I love to read and knit when I have down time, so if you have any books or magazines you are willing to share, I would be thankful to give them a second reading! I will do my best to keep everyone updated on my surgery and recovery and look forward to restored health!
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