Have you ever had that person in your life that is a true inspiration? They make you feel good just knowing them, being around them reassures your faith in whatever higher powers there may be?
Francine is that person to me and many others she knows. As she battles chronic illnesses that have plagued her for most of her life, she has never asked for a hand out. So now WE, have a chance to offer Francine a Hand Up.
This is HER Story:
Francine suffers from: severe and refractory Crohn’s Disease, Avascular Necrosis (of both knees and right hip), severe Acid Reflux Disease, eosinophilic esophagitis, osteoarthritis, osteopenia, tricuspid regurgitation (heart), a history of Pancreatitis, Hypotension, Anemia, Tachycardia, Dyspnea, Endometriosis, heart palpitations, congestive heart failure, and she’s immunosuppressed. She has a Hickman Central Line in her chest so she can receive IV treatments at home (as well as in the hospital). She does not eat solid foods, and only drinks liquids. She survives using daily TPN (total parenteral nutrition), which means she gets a premixed formula that goes directly into the bloodstream to give her all her nutrients and everything healthy people get from food.
She most recently has spent 32 days in the last two months in the hospital. The first hospital admission of the 32 days she was admitted Christmas Eve with what the doctors thought was a brain tumor, and was transferred to another hospital that was capable of handling such a complicated case. She spent Christmas in the hospital getting parts of her head shaved to get electrodes to mark out the problem area on the CT. Luckily it turned out to be a very large cerebral abscess that they were able to drain over 10ccs of pus out of—the abscess was bigger than the part of the brain it was mostly on. The doctors couldn’t believe how fast she was up and trying to walk and get around, and she was sent home a few days later on 3 months of IV antibiotics to do at home. She was home just over a week when she had to return to the hospital due to very high fevers of 104 and 105. She and her family figured she had an infection from the surgery, but that wasn’t right. She was diagnosed with Pneumonia. The doctors said she got the Pneumonia by aspirating when she vomits (breathes it in and it goes down the airway). This will be a chronic problem as Francine vomits almost daily. After a week in the hospital she was sent home on more IV antibiotics to treat the pneumonia for 3 more days. Francine was home no more than three (3!!!) days when she spiked a fever of 105 degrees out of nowhere. Again her husband took her to the hospital immediately.
This time she was admitted to the ICU, and they could not get her fever down, even packed in ice with cold fans blowing on her with no blankets. Finally it began to come down enough she could be transferred to a step-down unit. It was at that time her blood cultures came back positive for a fungal infection of her Central Line and the line had to be pulled right away—leaving her with no way to get nutrition. Francine had to wait for 3 clear cultures before a new line could be inserted.
Finally she had the surgery to replace the line, and was restarted on her TPN. She was also found to have a very bad eye infection called scleritis, and one eye affected by the fungal infection in her blood. During this hospitalization is when they did the echocardiogram that found the severe tricuspid regurgitation, and the congestive heart failure. She will not know more until she sees their cardiologist at her appointment.
Francine is a strong patient advocate in the area of Disability Rights, chronic illness, and also raises and trains her own Service Dogs. She has been involved with Paws for a Cause, volunteered for 4H over the years, provides foster care for dogs in need, uses her rehabbed and loving Pit Bull fosters as ambassadors for the breed. She has even taken a Medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic with Steel City Mission Group. She didn’t let her health issues or the barriers she would face in a 3rd world country in her wheelchair and little ability to walk with her cane at that time deter her from doing what her heart was calling her to do. Tell her she can’t do something and she will.
Chris, Francine’s devoted husband, has had to take a lot of time off work and travels great distances to be with her. Recently, during her surgery, he refused to leave her side and with a lack of space in her hospital room, he pulled up a chair next to her bed and laid his head down on the side table to sleep. Why? Because he did not want to let go of her hand in her time of need.
Francine’s case is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Her chronic conditions will continue to plague her. ANY donation, will help her to continue to remain in good spirits and help to eliminate some of the extra worries. While her chances of old and grey often are unclear, I, for one, want to do what I can to help get her there!
Francine has many medical expenses and things needed just to get her through the day. While insurance does cover a portion, there are many stones left unturned because of funding. Wheel chair accessories, medicines, service dog items, fuel for transport to hospitals and doctors, and much more. Even a small donation can help in a large way.
I call her superwoman at times, I don't know what her Kryptonite is, I hope we never find out!
Thank you all !
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