Here is Jessica’s story:
Fathers Day weekend 2016 is when it all started. At only 42 years old, Jessica suffered her first heart attack, just months after suddenly losing her Father in Law to a heart attack. She spent time at Centegra McHenry. After testing, it was determined her heart function was in the low 30’s. In the days following, they did an MRI of her heart, biopsy of her heart and angiograms. The doctors felt her Rhuematoid arthritis was attacking her heart which caused and inflammation in the middle wall of her heart. The physicians speculated this may have played a factor in the arrhythmia that lead to her heart attack. They went in to do an ablation (destroying part of the heart muscle by burning it) to try and stop the arrhythmia from happening again. Jessica was sent home wearing a Life Vest which was an external defibrillator in the event she had another heart attack. Jessica was told if she had another heart attack it could be fatal since her heart was so weak. This device was costing Jessica $2000/mo.
The doctors all felt because of her age, her heart would start to heal itself and improve function. After a few months, the echocardiogram showed no improvement and Jessica was referred to the heart failure team in Milwaukee, WI. At that time, the doctors adjusted her medications and a few months later, her heart function showed some improvement which was promising.
Jessica resumed her life, was working full time, taking care of her husband and home and things were looking up. She did have occasional dizzy spells that she dismissed.
On October 13, 2017, everything changed. Jessica suffered what they believe was yet another heart attack. When Jessica arrived in the ER, her heart was in Ventricular Tachycardia (VT) which is a dangerous rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. While in the ER, fully conscious, they had to shock her heart back into a regular rhythm. Jessica was then transported back to Milwaukee to her specialists where she spent 2 weeks in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. Her heart kept going into VT so they placed pumps into her abdomin and a line into her heart to try and stop it.
At this time, Jessica’s heart function dropped again into the low 20’s. They began discussing the possibility of an artificial pump or heart transplant. Jessica was determined to start cardiac rehab and make herself strong again.
Over the course of the following 3 1/2 mo, Jessica kept having cardiac problems and was in/out of the hospital every other week for weeks at a time.
During this time, she had a pacemaker and defibrillator placed. Unfortunately, the defibrillator would go off multiple times a day. The doctors felt at this point she would need another ablation in an attempt to stop the VT from firing and further damaging her weak heart. Jessica went into a 9hr procedure on December 11th to find the area on her heart it was firing from. While the doctors were in there, it was found that over 60% of her heart was scar tissue. Every time the doctors located the area the VT was firing from and burn it, her heart would start firing from another area. They finally stopped the procedure.
The following day, Jessica was having problems breathing and dizzy spells. She was rushed back into ICU. Before the ablation, her heart function was at 33-35%, the following day it dropped to 20% and fluid was building up around her heart. At that time it was decided by the doctors that Jessica needed emergency surgery to place an LVAD device (Left Ventricular Assistive Device) - artificial heart pump. The surgeons told us while placing the device, her heart kept going into VT. The doctors were optimistic this pump would help reduce the VT and give her heart a rest.
Jessica pulled through surgery like a champ and wasn’t even on a ventilator like they said to expect. We thought at this point we were through the woods, but the first 24hrs were the most critical. Less than 2hrs after surgery, we watched as Jessica began to have a stroke. The stroke team was called in, but due to her major surgery they couldn’t give her the TPA (clot busting medication for stroke patients) so all we could do was watch helplessly and pray it would stop on it’s own. Thankfully it wasn’t a catastrophic stroke, but she did lose function of her left arm, the left side of her face drooped and her speech was effected. She’s a strong woman and after all that she has been through, we knew she’d get past this. With time and therapy, she has regained most of the function of her left arm and her speech has dramatically improved.
After a couple weeks, Jessica went home but her defibrillator continues to go off even with the pump. At this point, the doctors have moved her up to go on the heart transplant list. Jessica has began some testing and will complete the testing on January 10th to prepare her for a transplant.
Jessicas employer has been supportive, but they soon won’t be able to keep her on their insurance since her FMLA has expired. Jessica will have to purchase the Cobra plan whic is expensive, but at this point she cannot be without health insurance.
Jessica has not been able to work since October 12, 2017. Her very supportive husband, Mark, has also missed work to be by her side. This has been mentally and physically exhausting for both of them, but they keep their spirits high. Mark not only has to work, but take care of all the household duties since Jessica can no longer do these things. With her LVAD, she cannot vacuum, wash laundry or touch a computer and she has been extremely short of breath with movement.
Jessica and Mark are two of the most remarkable people I have ever known and have been through so much these last 10yrs, but their love continues to get them through. If I could help alleviate some of their financial stress, it will help Jessica’s recovery.
Not only are these medical bills adding up, future bills, heart transplant surgery, lost wages, but Jessica and Mark are still paying other medical bills.
After they got married, Jessica and Mark had fertility issues. After several miscarriages, Jessica got to 16wks (yay!) ... it was found the baby didn’t have enough amniotic fluid and they didn’t think he would survive. Every week she had an ultrasound to check on him. At 24wks, when her baby still beat the odds and was considered “viable” to save, Jessica was admitted to the hospital for a month. When he wasn’t frowning, they thought it was best to do a c-section. On October 21, 2011, Ethan James Dieschbourg entered the world as perfect as could be, tiny but perfect. Ethan was in the neonatal intensive care where is condition slowly deteriorated and his tiny organs started to shut down. Jessica and Mark made the selfless and courageous decision to remove Ethan from life support and hold him in their arms where he passed away shortly after 12am on October 22,2011.
Jessica and Mark persevered through that together. A year later, Jessica was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cervical cancer and needed a radical hysterectomy. Shortly after that was her Ruematoid Arthritis diagnosis. So not only does she have her current medical bills, Jessica and Mark have just climbed out of their medical debt from previous years so their reserves were low.
Jessica has the biggest heart - that’s why it’s hard to believe her actual heart is failing. Even after everything they’ve been through, Jessica and Mark continue to be there for their friends and family. Jessica continues to crack jokes (we had the ICU nurses rolling) and makes the best of the cards she was dealt. She refuses to roll over and give up and she has a strong support system that refuse to let her give up.
Love you Yang!
If you would consider any amount and if you can’t donate, please share. I know this is greatly appreciated by Jessica and Mark (it only took me 3mo to talk her into it )
Thanks for reading ❤️
- Mary Cwiak
- Jeyson Herazo
- Jane Howard
- Christine DiTillio
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