Lyme Disease Treatment Fund

My name is Zak Semens I am a 35-year-old graphic designer from Oak Forest, IL. In July of 2002 I met my wife Rhiannon in Monticello, IN. To say we were in love from the moment we met is an understatement. People always say your life can change in an instant. You walk through the door of a restaurant, unaware of the scope of the events about to take place. There you are setting eyes on, from that moment forward, your best friend, lover, and partner. Eight months later we were engaged, and four months after that we were married. We have three children which is ironic because we were told we may not be able to have conceive, but I will cover more on that later.

During those eight months that we were dating we had a long distance relationship. She was attending St. Joseph for nursing, and I was working as a layout artist living in the Chicagoland area. We saw each other every weekend. It was during that time I learned that Rhi had suffered from frequent kidney stones since she was 17. Some that required extraction due to their size. Such procedures can be quite expensive for a college student. Due to the amount of times her stones required extraction she had amassed a huge amount of medical debt. Nevertheless, she continued to pursue her degree in nursing and moved to Chicago in the summer of 2003.

In the years following the move Rhiannon's health problems seemed to progress at a frightening rate. She was hospitalized shortly after she moved to Chicago with intense abdominal pain. She was diagnosed with endometriosis through laparoscopic surgery. Between 2003 and 2006 Rhi underwent six laparoscopic procedures to remove adhesions that had caused a myriad of issues from bowel strangulation to ovarian torsion. We were informed during this time that due to the extreme nature of her condition that having children would be difficult if not impossible. However, Rhi is not one to be told that she cannot do something, AND DOCTORS ARE NOT GOD. In 2006 our daughter was born. The pregnancy was uneventful, but Rhiannon did develop a kidney stone during the last few weeks of her pregnancy.

Rhi was symptom free until 2008 when her endometriosis began to cause her problems again. In November of 2008 our son was born. However, this pregnancy was far from normal. Rhi developed kidney stones throughout her entire pregnancy and spent a majority of the time on bed rest or in the hospital. Despite all of this our son was healthy and her endometriosis was held at bay again. However, this pregnancy had taken a toll on her body. Rhi had often complained of back pain after she hurt her back during the move to Chicago. After our son was born her back issues became very bad. An MRI and bone scan revealed that she had osteoporosis, and ankylosing spondylitis in her lower back. This was a hard pill for all of us to swallow after she suffered so immensely through six surgeries, a VERY difficult pregnancy, and enough medical debt to frighten the Rockefellers. Nevertheless, we pushed on and focused on our two children.

In 2010 we surprised to find out that Rhiannon was pregnant again. We were delighted and, to be perfectly honest, frightened to death considering how hard the last pregnancy was. This pregnancy was the twice as hard as the last. Her kidneys were full of stones and her back made it very hard for her to get around. Our daughter was born in June of 2011 but had to spend two weeks in the NICU. Rhi being the strong woman that she is made trips during all hours of the day and night to feed and bond with our new daughter. Eventually we all went home and once again we tried to focus on raising our children, and return to a normal life.

Then in May of 2013 Rhi became VERY sick. She began to have intense muscle spasms all over her body (hundreds per day), debilitating shooting pains through her body, arthritic symptoms in her hands and feet, headaches, dizziness, brain fog, and a number of other neurological issues. She was hospitalized for a week with no answers. She was sent home with a possible diagnosis of ALS. The possibility of two years to live and three young children at home was devastating.

After seeing multiple doctors at two university hospitals, we still did not have a firm diagnosis. We were at a complete loss and grasping for ANY shred of hope. Rhiannon began digging through the gamut of tests results that were run during the week she was in the hospital. The test results showed that she had tested positive for Lyme disease antibodies and numerous other strange infections. We found a Lyme doctor who diagnosed her with late-stage Lyme disease with co-infections. Rhi's fear and anxiety about the future of our family and how Lyme could affect them was an immense weight to bear. We pray daily that God will strengthen and heal her. She tries her best to keep a smile on her face despite the fact that she deals with constant pain, and an array of neurological issues.
The only way to kill Lyme is through long-term antibiotic treatment and supplemental therapies. Insurance does not cover ANY of these therapies. The cost is thousands of dollars a month and weekly doctor visits at $200-$400 per visit. I am the sole provider for our family, and members of our extended family have helped out as much as possible. We are drowning in medical debt and we fear that we will no longer be able to afford her treatment in the near future. (visit link below for more information on financial destruction caused by Lyme Disease).
http://lymedisease.org/news/touchedbylyme/lyme-financial-destruction.html

That's why we are reaching out to you and asking for your help. Chronic Lyme disease is devastating my wife and our family. We need your help so Rhiannon can continue to receive the treatment that she needs to beat this disease. Any donation, no matter how small, would be immensely helpful and very much appreciated. Thank you for reading this.

MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY AND GRANT YOU GOOD HEALTH.
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Organizer

Rhiannon Semens 
Organizer
Oak Forest, IL
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