Jessica's Journey... Brain Surgery

I met my wife Jessica, about four years ago.  Very early in our relationship, I noticed that Jessica always seemed to be very exhausted.  She is a very strong person and would never complain about it.  Day in and Day out, she was exhausted beyond comprehension.  The exhaustion was also accompanied by debilitating headaches (migraine, pressure and tension headaches), nausea, dizziness and blurred vision.

Her health problems all began back in 2006, shortly after the birth of her first daughter, Blakely.  A few months after giving birth to Blakely, she began experiencing tachycardia, sweating, headaches, insomnia, and several other hyperthyroid symptoms, and was then diagnosed with hyperthyroid and Graves’ Disease.  The symptoms were so severe that it was nearly impossible to function on a daily basis.  After seeing multiple doctors in multiple specialties, it was decided that Jessica would have Radioactive Iodine Ablation of her Thyroid.  She spent the past 8 years reliant on thyroid medication to keep her levels stable. About 4 months after her RAI, she started experiencing vision problems and had received comments on her appearance and the changes in her eyes.  She immediately went to her practitioner to see what was happening with her eyes.  The practitioner found that her right eye was protruding out much more than normal.  She was immediately sent for an MRI.  This was when the large cystic tumor was found on the pineal gland, in the dead center of Jessica’s brain.  As you can imagine, it was terrifying to find out that she had something growing in the middle of her brain.  Surprisingly enough, the Radiologist and her practitioner only wanted to monitor it.  They assured Jessica it was "nothing to worry about" and "not causing any of her symptoms."  Having no other options, Jessica trusted them and continued her courageous fight to feel better.  Over the past 8 years, her symptoms have continued to worsen.  She started having severe migraines, pressure and tension headaches, that alone make it hard to get through the day.  Although she has been on proper thyroid medication, her hormone levels have been unstable.  She has also experienced EXTREME fatigue on a daily basis accompanied by head and neck pain, insomnia, lack of focus, dizziness, balance and vertigo issues just to name a few.  Her right eye continued to protrude and was explained to be the reason for her headaches.  Jessica began to research orbital decompression as an option to only help with her headaches but also to help with the appearance of her eye. Surgery was scheduled for 2012, but before she could have it done, she became pregnant with our twins. She gave birth to our twins, Harper and Hudson, in July 2013 and within a few months started experiencing the same symptoms as before, only this time they were extremely magnified.  Jessica’s exhaustion has increased, her headaches have become worse and more frequent. She is dizzy daily and experiences insomnia nightly. All of this, and I, her husband, am a Firefighter, so I am gone 24 hours at a time and sometimes even 48 hours.

So feeling as exhausted and debilitated as she is, Jessica still has to be a mother to three children. So now we are still in the same fight to find healing and help Jessica feel better, but in the past 8 years, have seemingly gotten nowhere. During this time, she researched and has easily seen 20 plus physicians. She has been scoped inside and out and has seen pretty much every type of specialist possible. Jessica has been on more medication than any 37 year old should ever have to be on and this is just to get through the day. Every physician has blamed it all on her thyroid problems and has basically told her that she was just going to have to “live with it.” It was as if the physicians were just giving up on helping Jessica feel better. She was so determined to feel better, that she took her health into her own hands and started researching more physicians and experts on thyroid treatments. Jessica was not going to give up on having a good quality of life. She found Dr. Neal Rouzier in California, but due to his location, she was unable to see him. He did, however, lead her to a practitioner that was perfect for Jessica. Kala Hill at Pink Link Medical, Inc. Kala has truly been a blessing. She has been determined to help Jessica feel better and has not left a stone unturned. After many different treatments and adjustments, Jessica’s levels were still consistently unstable, so Kala sent Jessica for another MRI. Again, they found the cystic tumor on the pineal gland and have discovered that it has grown and is compressing on the surrounding areas.   After all of the years of unsuccessful medical treatments, here we are again, at the pineal tumor in the middle of Jessica’s brain. Just like before, the reading Radiologist suggested to monitor it, but her practitioner Kala, referred her to a neurologist. Upon doing research of her own, Jessica found top Neurosurgeon Dr. Dong Kim in Houston, Texas.

Dr. Kim is one of 4 Neurosurgeons in the world that have the expertise on this type of tumor removal and that will even do the operation. Most surgeons will not touch it due to the danger and risk as well as location in the brain. Over the past year, Jessica has become completely debilitated by her symptoms, even having trouble doing daily tasks. She was working a part time nursing job, but had to quit and had to put of finishing her nursing degree due to these symptoms. I have become the sole income for our household. I have to work two jobs and take any overtime I can get. This leaves Jessica at home for 24 plus hours alone to care for our 16 month old twins and an 8 year old. That could be challenging for someone in perfect health and Jessica does it feeling completely debilitated daily.  She has many days that, due to the extreme fatigue and migraines, all she can do is lay on the floor and watch the twins until she can go back to bed.  Along with extreme fatigue and headaches, her symptoms have also come to include vision disturbances, seeing stars/black spots, double vision, motion sickness, vertigo, balance issues, speech problems, confusion, lack of focus, memory loss, ringing in ears, muscle weakness, hair loss and insomnia just to name a few.

I honestly do not know how Jessica makes it through each day, the way she does it, or how she is a mother to our three children.  About 2 months ago, Jessica was bathing our twins.  I was in the other room and heard a crash.  I ran into the bathroom and found her lying on top of my son in the bathtub.  I quickly pulled her off of him and out of the tub.  Jessica had a syncope episode. She blacked out and fell into the bathtub with the twins in it.  This was a very scary experience for me, seeing my wife and children like that.  One that solidified our concerns and urgency to see Dr. Kim.

We had our consultation with Dr. Kim on November 11, 2014 at Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann Hospital.  We met with several physicians there, including Dr. Kim.  They all expressed how complicated Jessica’s case is. They also said that the cystic tumor on her pineal gland needs to come out.  If it does not come out, it will continue to grow and possibly cause loss of vision in one or both eyes.  For Jessica and our family, this is the light at the end of our tunnel.  The reward far outweighs the risks but the thought of my wife having such serious brain surgery, is very hard to process. 

She will be having surgery in January and the recovery time is 4-6 weeks.  The surgery is considered a partial craniotomy and Jessica is expected to make a full recovery.

As a Firefighter, it is in my nature to help others, so it is uncomfortable for me to have to ask for help now, but I am asking for my family’s sake.  Our insurance will cover a good portion of the surgery, but we have a good amount that we will have to pay out-of-pocket the day of surgery.  We also have travel expenses and loss wages during the recovery time.  I am asking for any donations that you can make to help with getting my wife the life changing surgery she so desperately needs. Without this financial help, we will be unable to have the surgery.  I believe that God has a purpose for my wife and that she is going through this journey for a reason. Prayers are always welcomed and much needed. Thank you for taking the time to read my wife’s story and thank you for the much needed help.

“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.  He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.  Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.”  ~ Psalm 107:19-21
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Jessica Himes 
Allen, TX
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