Some of you may not have realized that Heidi, co-owner of The Coffee Tree in Loveland with her husband Michael, has been struggling with severe health issues since Valentine's Day of 2013. Being a naturally cheery person with a strong will, and not wanting to burden others with her constant struggle against severe chronic nerve pain and a ration of other symptoms, she has gotten very good at faking wellness. For more than 4 years she has been visiting a myriad of doctors and incurring huge expenses while trying to determine the nature and extent of her illness.
When the best efforts of her medical team failed to find an explanation for her symptoms, it was recommended that she apply to the Mayo Clinic, where they specialize in diagnosing mysterious and serious illnesses. Heidi's case was accepted by the Mayo immediately, and Heidi and her Mom spent a week at the clinic in Rochester, Minnesota at the end of May. After four-plus years of confusion and bewilderment on the medical front, she has finally received a full diagnosis from the best of the best at the Mayo Clinic: She has a Myelopathy from a Para-infectious Phenomena, along with Cutaneous Lupus and possible mild Systemic Lupus.
The Lupus is under control. As far as the neurological stuff- she either had an attack on her spinal cord from a virus she contracted four years ago, or it was a spinal stroke at that time. The neurologist at the Mayo can only speculate at this late date, but it was most likely the virus that damaged her spine.
We actually saw the scarring on and inside her spinal cord on the MRI. After so many years of facing the unknown, it was actually a relief to see the reason for non-stop pain on film. As the neurologist said, "This is not in your head. This is not mind over matter. This is a serious permanent injury to the Central Nervous System that will never get better".
The scarring has caused all sorts of "scrambling" with the nervous system- hence the myriad of painful, debilitating, and not to mention frightening neurological symptoms. The best news is that this is not degenerative, but she will be in chronic, never ceasing pain the rest of her life.
Next step is to return to the Mayo Clinic to see a pain management doc or go to San Francisco for it. They had no recommendations for referrals in the Denver area as this type of nerve pain is the hardest and most complicated to treat.
We are so grateful to know exactly what is going on but it has come with a hefty price tag. The uncovered portion of the medical bills (from the Mayo Clinic visit alone) comes to around $20,000. Medical expenses over the last four years have drained all of Heidi and Michael’s resources, so we are asking for your help. Monetary donations, prayers, encouragement of any sort will be hugely appreciated!
Heidi and Michael have done so much for so many — through providing a safe, congenial place for the community to come together at the Coffee Tree, and by their loving support of all their family and friends through the years. Let’s join together to ease their financial burden as they grapple with the implications of this diagnosis.
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