On Monday, March 19th, Stephanie was at the gym when she went into cardiac arrest for several minutes. Luckily this was probably the best possible place for this to happen, since we later discovered that this moment was likely inevitable for Stephanie.
A nurse near her was able to take immediate action, and she was at the hospital within minutes. While the doctors initially thought Stephanie would become responsive by the next day, that was not the case. Her brain and body spent several long days working to recover from the damage that a cardiac arrest causes, not to mention a tough fall on a moving treadmill. Meanwhile, the doctors diagnosed her with Stress-Induced Cardiomyopathy (aka Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy) and a Left Anomalous Coronary Artery Originating from the Opposite Sinus.
She's One in a Million
We always thought Stephanie was special, but now we know for sure - there is a one in a million chance of having this heart condition! The good news is that Stephanie has her husband Jeff caring for her every step of the way, and that this condition can be fixed with heart surgery.
Slowly, Stephanie started to become more aware of her surroundings. She was able to squeeze the doctor's hand and give us a thumbs up, which was huge cause for celebration. Over the next few weeks, Stephanie improved a lot. Experiencing her daily physical and mental gains has made all of our hearts grow three sizes bigger. On April 11th she was transferred to Kaiser's Rehabilitation Center in Vallejo, CA to start the next phase of her recovery. Her biggest requests while there were to be able to go home, and of course - to go for a run! Basically, she is a total champ and continues to remain in good spirits.
The Long Haul
Now that she is home, Stephanie will continue to work on recovering all of her physical and mental capacities over the next few months until she is deemed strong enough for heart surgery, at which point she'll endure another recovery period which will likely take many more months. Her mental recovery will likely take the longest. She struggles daily with both long and short-term memory loss, reading and writing. Until the surgery (tentatively scheduled for late July), Stephanie is required to wear an external defibrillator vest 24 hours a day that monitors her heart and administers a shock if her heart stops again. This alone is a challenge -- if the vest triggers a false alarm, someone must be there to disable it before it shocks her unnecessarily. With her current physical and mental challenges, we can't be certain that she can disable it by herself. This means that someone needs to be close by Stephanie at all times, making it hard for Jeff to do this alone when he also needs to go to work for a few hours or run daily errands.
Your Support Means Everything
The flowers, visits, food, prayers, calls, texts, and support from friends (not to mention haircare!) have made a huge difference to Stephanie and Jeff. However, while insurance is a wonderful thing and Jeff has won some major battles so far to get the care that Stephanie deserves, there are a lot of uncovered costs involved with getting her back to 100%.
Any small donation is helpful and I know that Jeff and Stephanie will be forever grateful. They'll use this money for anything they might need to make Stephanie's heart great again (sorry, bad pun!). They will require extra in-home caregiving which in San Francisco can cost $100+/hr, daily physical and occupational therapy, and in-home medical equipment such as a shower chair and other necessities as Stephanie works on her strength, fine motor skills, and long and short-term memory.
XOXO Stephanie, we love you.
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