My family and I are starting this fundraising campaign to help my sister Elizabeth. She has been dealing with many health issues over the past ten years and now faces yet another major medical treatment that is leaving her overwhelmed with expenses she can't manage to cover on her own.
Here is her story—
Ten years ago in October 2007 when Elizabeth was 22 years old living and working in Vancouver, she was suddenly struck with major back pain. The pain was so severe that she was unable to continue working and because of this she was unable to support herself and so moved back in with our parents in Kelowna.
After an MRI in February of 2008, the doctors discovered a disc protrusion as well as a tumor (they later discovered the tumor was benign in January 2011). They prescribed physiotherapy to rehabilitate her; however, the physiotherapy aggravated the problem and increased the pain. The doctors were dismissive of this and had no other plan of action other than to prescribe pain medications and wait for her to see a specialist; and so, Elizabeth got on a waitlist for a Neurosurgeon.
She was prescribed many different medications. They helped with the pain but caused many undesirable side effects. The doctors told her this was just something she would have to live with going forward.
Two years later in November 2010, after continuing to be unable to work she was seen by a Neurosurgeon. Having seen the MRI scan from two years previous, he said that the tumor was the cause of her pain and that they would be able to do surgery to remove it.
In April 2011 Elizabeth had a major, 8 hour long, spinal surgery to remove the tumor, a piece of vertebra, a piece of rib, and to fuse the T4 to the T7 vertebrae. They inserted five screws and two rods to stabilize her spine. Seven days in the hospital, 6 weeks of recovery, and months of personal rehabilitation later she was pain free and back on the road to a heathy active life.
Elizabeth has had many great accomplishments and experiences since the healing of her back. She went back to school to become a Medical office assistant, got married, started a great job she enjoys, and adopted an adorable dog. However starting in late 2015 she started to experience serious digestive issues and abdominal pain. She would occasionally end up in the ER with extreme stomach and intestinal pain but the doctors could not determine the cause.
In the beginning of 2017 she became increasingly ill with excruciating abdominal pain. In March she started to experience severe back pain as well--so debilitating she had to take leave from work. The abdominal pain was so intense that she was unable to eat. She was becoming very weak and losing weight at a rapid rate. Frequent trips to the ER and doctor visits led to 2 CT scans, colonoscopy, gastroscopy, 3 ultrasounds, HIDA scan, GI follow through, and 2 X-rays.
No answers. The doctors were stumped. She continued to lose weight.
Dec 2017 Elizabeth visited a chiropractor who looked at her X-rays and realized that she has severe scoliosis. This is the cause of her significant gastrointestinal troubles. The result from her spine curving is intense pressure on her internal organs—specifically her digestive organs. To date Elizabeth has lost 45 lbs and she continues to lose weight because of the pain it causes her to digest food.
The chiropractor is strongly suggesting she start wearing a corrective brace to support her spine and adjust it. The other alternative is surgery to fuse her spine; however, this is a major surgery with risks, and will permanently limit her mobility. She would like to go with the brace. It is a 2-3 year endeavor. As well as the brace the specialist is suggesting breast reduction surgery to alleviate the extra pressure on her back and neck.
Elizabeth has been on Medical EI during the past 3 months and is very overwhelmed with the cost of the brace--$4900, not to mention the cost of fittings, appointments and adjustments. She has tried to start working again but can’t seem to manage more than a couple of hours a week at the current time. Her husband works also but his work is not always predictable and he has been dealing with an extremely ill partner.
My family is starting this campaign to try to raise funds for Elizabeth’s brace as well as to help supplement some of her living costs during the difficult time she’s been enduring and will continue to endure. We are so thankful that there is a possible solution to this problem. This being said, the brace is no easy fix. She will be required to wear it 23 hours per day for the first two years. I am sure this will be taxing on top of her current discomfort. She has a long painful recovery in front of her. My hope for her is that she doesn’t have to go through it with a looming financial burden hanging overhead.
I know that some of us wonder how we can help people in these kinds of situations. We might worry that what we can offer is not very much, and therefore not very helpful. I want to say that whatever you can offer will be so incredibly appreciated because whatever amount you can give will be put towards the end goal—a better life for my incredible sister--and that is something worth giving to!
We will continue to share her progress with you through updates and photos as things go forward.
Thank you sincerely for your help!
- Debra Reimer
- Ruby Plett
- Don Plett
Organizer and beneficiary