Isabelle's journey to recovery

I never thought it would have to come to this and not completely sure how to word this but here I go.

Hi  there, I'm Isabelle Caldwell. I am 20 years old and was born with this crazy  deformity called Pectus Excavatum (P.E.) It caused my sternum to be dangerously close to my spine (less than 1 cm). Now if you know the human anatomy then you know the heart and lungs should be in between your sternum and spine. P.E. causes everything to be moved and cursed.

Here is a picture to show what I am trying to describe.

Now I have lived my whole life with P.E. but with how uncommon it is I never knew how badly it was affecting me until 2016. In fall of 2016 I started having extreme pains and a slew of symptoms. After many emergency room trips and change of doctors I finally got answers to what was happening to me.

They were able to measure the severity of my P.E. by having a CT scan done, they were then able to take measurements and calculations to get an index number. Now to put this in a way to understand easy, anything over a 3.25 is considered severe.

Mine was 16!

My rib cage and sternum that should to be protecting my body was actually harming it. The lungs were cursed and the left side was only working at about 75%. My heart was displaced and misshaped. Surprisingly enough my liver was also being negatively affected.

The decision was made and I had my first surgery May of 2017, at the time I was believed to be going to a qualified surgeon, but boy was a wrong. The surgeon had to remove ribs 3-7, remove my sternum, break it, and then reshape it. He then placed multiple plates and countless amounts of screws in my chest to try to help support it.

Now let’s fast forward.

Here I am 16 months later living in constant pain and wondering what to do next. I have just recently found out my current plates and hardware have snapped and dislodged from my ribs and sternum. This hardware is actually causing my ribs to be pushed inward and restricting my lungs from working properly. All this damage has put a threat on my health. This all could have been avoided with proper hardware amounts and technique procedures. I now live with constant pain, permanent nerve damage, continuous popping and grinding noises, breathing issues, vasovagal syncope episodes, and was diagnosed with severe anxiety, just to name a few.

I am now unable to perform regular day to day duties as a girlfriend, employee and most importantly a young mother to a very active 4 year old boy. I have had over 50 appointments and months of physical therapy.  I had to pay thousands of dollars for my 1st surgery and surgeon to fail me. I am no longer able to get in contact with my first surgeon and which leaves me in the dark wondering what now.

Thankfully I found a wonderful support group on Facebook, they have given me so much guidance. Because of them I was referred to the number one surgeon in the country, Dr. Jaroszewski in Phoenix, Arizona. Sadly due to possible lawsuits for malpractice she was unable to take my case. She was able to refer me to her “right hand man” also the 2nd best in the country, Dr Miller in Marietta, Georgia.

I have just returned from my consultation with him in GA. After many tests and hours of patience he was able to find me a solution for a better life. In just two short weeks after my consult he wants me to return for a 2nd surgery (9/25/2018)

This surgery is my only option for a better life and better health. My medical issues will not go away but will only worsen at a fast rate. Just as the first surgery these new plates and hardware will have to remain with me for the rest of my life. I have had to switch insurance companies in attempt to have surgery costs lowered. I have struggled to keep my job due to the increased pain and many appointments. This surgery I will have to be in the hospital out of state longer and out of work.  All I am wanting is to have a normal life but all I have left are a few hurdles in my way.

The costs of insurance, office visits, surgery, and hospital stay has left me completely draining all my savings. The estimation I was given was a little over $8,000 but was told it will likely increase. If you know me then you know it takes a lot to ask for help but the situation I am in leaves me nowhere else to turn.

I will forever be grateful for any and all donations received for my surgery for a better life.

Thank you,
Isabelle Caldwell


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Isabelle Caldwell 
Janesville, WI

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