Amanda's Medical Fund

I am raising money for my best friend, Amanda.  Amanda and I have been friends for 10 years.  She is the closest thing I have to a sister and I do not know what I would do without her love, support and friendship.  Unfortunately, my best friend as not been herself for quite sometime and since moving back to the area, I have not been able to spend as much time with her as I would like due to her illness.  Please help my best friend!  Here is more about her situation:
For as long as I can remember, Amanda has suffered from stomach ailments.  Unexplained pains and other embarrassing symptoms were a daily experience for her.   In 2010, she spent several excruciatingly painful nights in the ER, doubled over from the pains in her stomach and lower abdomen.   After several visits to a Gastroenterologist and after multiple invasive tests, she was no closer to a diagnosis of her abdominal symptoms.  Disappointed and feeling dreadful, someone mentioned a specific hospital to her and suggested that she consult with a physician there.  She was thoroughly impressed after her first phone call with the hospital schedulers as they were so helpful and understood her urgency.  Thanks to meeting with the wonderful Gastroenterology staff, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Upon her diagnosis, she began seeing a Gastroenterologist regularly to help treat and manage her Crohn’s symptoms. The first course of medication landed her in the hospital with pancreatitis due to a previously unknown allergic reaction, so her physician had to change her treatment option to Remicade. She began receiving infusions of this medication via IV every eight weeks.  After some time and some breakthrough pain and other symptoms, her physician decided to increase her treatment to every six weeks.  At last she finally achieved remission and felt as though she could live a normal life again. 

In 2012, after suffering a devastating fall (HA HA to those who know how this occurred), she broke both the Radius and Ulna in her right arm.  She was very fortunate to have another physician at the same hospital take care of her.  She saw the Orthopedic Surgeon routinely until it was determined that she needed surgery to install an internal titanium plate and screws to correct the alignment of her right Radius.  She was prescribed numerous sessions of Occupational Therapy.  Over the course of the next two years, she ended up having a total of 4 surgeries on her arm and dozens of OT sessions.  It was a long and very painful process but one that was necessary to help her regain the use of her right arm. 

Then, in May 2014, she came down with a case of strep throat that she just could not get rid of and she was exhausted all the time. On top of this, she was also running a fever. When the symptoms didn’t subside after several weeks of antibiotics and steroids, her doctor ordered more testing and concluded she had the Epstein-Barr virus.  It was explained to her that the years of receiving the Remicade treatments for her Crohn’s disease had significantly compromised her immune system, causing her to be susceptible to any infections.  Due to the EBV diagnosis, she was ordered to stay home from work on bed rest in the hopes that her body would fight off the infection and return to normal.  And, she would not be able to receive any further Remicade treatments until her immune system regained normalcy.  Several months later, none of her symptoms had subsided and she was continuing to run a fever.  Amanda's primary physician suggested that she consult with an Infectious Diseases specialist.  Again, she turned to the same hospital.  Over the next several months and after several visits with the ID department (as well as ENT and Rheumatology) and numerous visits for lab for blood draws, it was confirmed that she suffered from drug-induced immunodeficiency.

During this ordeal, she continued to run fevers and suffered from night sweats and upper respiratory symptoms.  The exhaustion continued and due to the steroids that she was prescribed as a temporary solution for the Crohn’s, acid reflux became a problem and she developed a severe hoarseness to her voice.  She is now on an acid reducer and hoping that the hoarseness goes away. 

After being out of work for eight months, she had exhausted all of her accrued leave.  She is a Senior Intelligence Analyst in law enforcement and she absolutely adores her job.  She is assigned to a fugitive unit and has successfully assisted in the arrest of dozens of violent fugitives.  It is a career that she is very proud of and one that she did not want to risk losing while out sick.  It wasn’t until January 2015 that her primary physician and her specialists agreed to allow her to return to work on a restricted basis, warning her that her immune system was still weakened and that she needed to start off slow.  At this point, she had been on bed rest for months, using up all of her Annual and Sick Leave and hoping that her immune system would somehow reset itself so that she could return to a normal life.  Those of us that have the pleasure of knowing Amanda, knows she is usually a very spunky and outgoing individual, so being confined to her home was not a situation that she enjoyed.  She has been following her doctors’ orders and has been slowly increasing her hours at work, but has to rely on the kindness of her colleagues who have donated sick leave so that she does not have to use leave without pay.

Unfortunately, due to not being able to receive her Remicade treatments, her Crohn’s disease is now out of remission and her stomach issues have started to return.  Since she can no longer take Remicade due to the havoc it caused on her immune system, she has now started a new treatment that requires giving herself shots.  She was very disheartened to hear that her Crohn’s has returned, but feels confident that her medical team knows what’s best for her and she is hopeful her new course of treatment will be just as successful as the Remicaid once was.  Her medical team helped her achieve remission before, and we have no doubt that with their help, she will once again be disease-free.

All of the testing she has undergone as well as the treatments for her Crohn’s disease over the past several years has been very costly.  She made arrangements years ago with the finance department to make monthly payments towards her bill.  When she broke her arm, visits for Occupational Therapy were necessary but expensive, as her insurance did not cover all of the visits that she needed.  That caused a significant spike in her bill.  She has since regained quite a bit of use in her right arm and no longer needs therapy.  Her right arm will probably never be 100% again, but the wonderful staff in the OT department has diligently worked with Amanda to attempt to regain as much use and movement as possible.  They wouldn’t give up on her, even when she was upset or disappointed in her lack of progress.  Without them and the therapies that they provided her, she would probably still be living with pain in her arm and not be able to do simple tasks like using a doorknob, holding a toothbrush or putting her hair up in a ponytail.  These may sound like silly little tasks, but when you lose the ability to take care of yourself by doing these little tasks, it is quite a blow to someone who has always been very independent.

Unfortunately Amanda owes the hospital an enormous amount of money and have informed her that the agreed upon monthly payments are no longer enough.  They have now threatened to send the remainder of her outstanding bill ($12,000) to collections if she does not vastly increase her payments.  If this occurs, Amanda is at risk of losing all her adored specialists that she needs to fight this ongoing battle.  This situation is exactly what Amanda does not need...MORE stress and one more thing to keep her up at night.  I ask that you please consider donating anything you can to help Amanda pay down her hospital debt so she can once again be the independent and spunky person we all miss and love.

Thank you in advance for your generosity!
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Shanna DiSalvo 
Jacksonville, FL
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