Michelle's spinal surgery fund

Michelle suffers from Degenerative Disc Disease that is climbing up her spine and has already ruptured and torn three discs in her lower lumbar back (her L5, L4, and L3). If left untreated, Michelle will suffer permanent nerve damage and be confined to a wheel chair within three to five years.  

Michelle’s back can be fixed.  With the right treatment, she can heal and be healthy.  She can get her life back.  We’ve created this page to raise the funds we need to pay for her surgery.  We can’t do it on our own.  We are so grateful for anything you can contribute to help.

As Michelle’s brother, it’s been heartbreaking to witness her rapid decline as a result of this unbearably painful, disabling disease.  Before the car accident, Michelle was among the strongest, most prolifically active people I’ve ever known.  On top of being a full-time mother of two children and a co-manager of the family construction business, she also raised chickens and grew produce on her family farm in Maple Valley.  She cooked and baked from scratch, made jams and distilled medicinal ointments.  She crafted beautiful pieces of jewelry to sell at a local gallery, and brought canvases to life with her oil paints.  She hiked and camped and regularly hosted family holidays and birthdays.  Her boundless energy animated her myriad creations and brought so much joy and love into all of our lives—especially the lives of her husband and two wonderful children. 

Now, Michelle is mostly confined to the couch.  She can’t sleep because the pain never stops.  At times she can’t walk without our help.  She periodically loses feeling in her feet and falls down when she’s trying to get to the bathroom.  She can’t eat at the dinner table because sitting up for too long causes her back to convulse and spasm.  She can’t take a jug of milk out of the fridge or put a pan in the oven.  She can’t hold her youngest son.  She is still Michelle, she is still the most loving and understanding and strongest person I know, but her back has left her maimed and immobilized, and the chronic pain is getting harder to manage with every day that passes. 

Because Michelle is only 34 years old and has already lost three discs, the standard spinal fusion treatment won’t work for her.  It will immobilize the joints in her lumbar back and lead to continued deterioration in the rest of her spine.  According to Doctor Lundin, one of the leading neurosurgeons in the country, multiple disc replacement is Michelle's only option.  Anything else will condemn her to a life of chronic pain and disability. 

Due to current FDA regulations, the triple lumbar disk replacement that Michelle needs is not an approved procedure in the United States.  Even single disc replacements are rarely covered by insurance (and two disc replacements never are).  Germany, though, has been performing triple disc replacements for over 25 years. They design and manufacture the most advanced prosthetics in the world, so they have access to artificial discs that aren’t yet available on the U.S. market.  Disc replacement procedures in Germany are also about 1/3rd of the cost of comparable procedures in the U.S.. For these reasons, and because disc replacement can preserve the natural flexibility and movement in Michelle’s back and stop the cycle of domino-effect deterioration, Dr. Lundin recommended that Michelle receive a triple disk replacement in Germany.  He specifically recommended the German Spine Specialist Clinic, which has the longest and most successful track record for this kind of procedure.

If we all come together and contribute what we can, I’m confident that Michelle can get the care she needs to heal.  She can be freed from her pain and disability and get her vital energy back.  Arian Foster, one of the best running backs in the NFL, went back to professional football in less than a year after having a disc replaced.  If he can do that, Michelle can go back to cooking and gardening and painting and raising her children. 

The money we are raising will pay for the surgery, a six week stay in a rehabilitation clinic, travel to and from Germany, as well as care for children and home while out of the country. Gabe, Michelle’s husband will be at her side in Germany through every step of the way. 

Thank you so much for doing what you can to help, and please contact us if you have any questions.

Please see the German Spine Specialist Clinic for more information: http://www.germanspinespecialists.com/

Donations

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  • Eric Richey 
    • $50 
    • 74 mos
  • Eric Richey 
    • $50 
    • 75 mos
  • Kat and Jeff Kirbzzio 
    • $50 
    • 75 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 75 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $300 
    • 75 mos
See all

Organizer

Michelle Ashbaugh 
Organizer
Maple Valley, WA
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