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Lisa Needs Medical X-mas Miracle

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Lisa Needs Medical X-mas Miracle

My name is Steven Legge and my best friend Lisa Lannon is critically ill with Lyme Borreliosis Complex. It is a chronic, inflammatory disease marked by a group of infections that include the bacteria Borrelia burdorferi, Babesia, Bartonella, Anaplasma and Ehrlichia.

Lisa got so sick in 1999 at age 23 but the disease went undiagnosed until 2007. By that time the impact was too severe a cure or anything close to it was impossible. Doctors from that point dealt in damage control. During this time Lisa endured a PICC line, hospitalizations, transfusions, anaphylaxis, phlebitis, C. difficile colitis, home nursing care, gall bladder removal and a temporary pacemaker alongside constant, invasive testing.

Sadly, her spinal tap in 1999 revealed the disease--a stage when it could’ve been cured--but a hospital error discovered years later denied her a chance at living. Meanwhile she and her family spent a massive amount of money over the years on balances due after insurance paid its portion, and significant out-of-network expenses as required by her doctors.

Before her illness became critical Lisa had severely comprised autonomic and central nervous systems, immune, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal and vascular systems. Too often she watched life out her window. But she always stayed tough. She is absolutely the strongest person I've ever met. I’d credit her Irish roots, but that’s just her nature. I try not to think about what she could’ve offered if her dreams were realized.

She fell gravely ill about 2 years ago when she suddenly became paralyzed in bed and was hospitalized via paramedics. A chest port was surgically placed (a tube going into a vein in her chest ending at her heart) to deliver IV fluids, which she couldn't tolerate. Then, she dropped 15 pounds in less than a month given difficulty swallowing and sudden loss of appetite. A PEG tube was surgically placed in her stomach so she could be fed formula enterally through a machine. The stomach tube saved her life at that time.

Once finally discharged after further complications, she was connected at home 24 hours a day to a machine  that fed her formula via her PEG tube. This was the only way Lisa could “eat" for 8 months.

Lisa was bedridden for about 2 years. She couldn’t care for herself. By this point her mom left New York to live with Lisa in Washington, D.C. Her dad worked back home in New York to pay the snowballing medical bills. A wheelchair was purchased that Lisa named “Beast.” She was so weak I don’t know how she ever made it to, or through, medical appointments in that thing.

Lisa then had urgent surgery to  open her jugular veins because blood flow from her brain was severely reduced. At that time the chest port was removed and another PICC placed surgically in her dominant right arm. Both her shoulders froze to the point of immobility as Lisa remained infirmed for many months more.

Lisa has since had her stomach tube removed. She's now on a restricted nutritional program of which she says her choices are “raked leaves” or “drywall.”  Presently, a  physical therapist performs full-body assisted stretching given her atrophy. Lisa moves and speaks slowly. Communication is now an issue. A permanent pacemaker is likely in her future. She was put on a medication protocol by her infectious disease doctor that is an attempt toward progress, but setbacks come often. Still, she continues her 16-year fight through insufferable pain I doubt nearly any of us could endure for one day.  

Beyond the obvious financials this devastating illness has cost Lisa her passions, youth, physical capabilities, freedom, relationships, friendships, self-reliance, cognitive function, the ability to have a child or to ever be a parent … the list goes on.   

Many of us take our health for granted. We choose instead to complain about traffic, the grocery store line, our jobs, etc. Lisa would gladly trade for those complaints. We ignore that blessed, fragile gift which  could leave us at any moment.

For those of you who don’t know Lisa, she was always-- and still is--grateful, laughing, smiling, spirited. She loved all types of skiing, biking, hiking, the outdoors, swimming, roller coasters, the arts, football, baseball, and winter. She was active in the Catholic Church and an avid reader. Her sense of humor has endured as has her innate ability to engage others.

She says she remembers the sound of leaves crunching beneath her bike wheels and the “swoosh” feeling of skis on snow or water so long ago. And she doesn’t get how I could barf on roller coasters. I don’t get why this happened to her. And I can’t make peace with the grim odds doctors continue to deliver Lisa.

She would never ask for help. But she (and her family) need it desperately. Their finances simply can’t sustain Lisa’s ongoing medical bills, care, living expenses, medications, supplements, special dietary needs, home health nursing, medical supplies and more.

Worse still, she needs to pay for new health insurance entirely out of pocket as of this December 2015.

She was dropped by her life insurer and denied coverage from any others due to “the history of her disease.” She was also denied Social Security benefits. Lisa has zero income and has been unapproved for state/federal assistance.

I know the holidays are busy and can be a time for overspending and concern with material things. But they are also a time of giving and reflection on the blessings in our lives. I kindly ask you make any financial gift posible to help Lisa.

Her dreams are different now. Simple. Heartbreaking. But, as always, she fights for them.


  • Anonymous
    • $50 
    • 7 yrs

Organizer and beneficiary

Steven Legge
Arlington, VA
Lisa Lannon

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