In June of 2016, Catie graduated from Thomas Jefferson University's BSN program. Her hard work and dedication, even through some serious life-changing events, allowed her to turn her lifelong dream of becoming a Nurse into a reality. Not only did she attend one of the most intense, accelerated nursing programs in the country, she did it with ease.
In December 2016, she was offered a full-time position as a Registered Nurse on the Telemetry Unit at Hahnemann University Hospital. She went through their lengthy & intensive orientation process where she refined her skills & excelled in her training. However, the day before she was set to complete her orientation, everything changed.
Catie was diagnosed with Shingles on February 4th, 2017 at the age of 25. She was physically exhausted and in excruciating nerve pain. The blisters and pain spread from her neck, down her right arm, torso, and across her back. She was unable to have anything touching that area, even a shirt. She typically only slept for an hour or so each night. Her physician stated that it was the worst case of shingles he had ever seen in his medical career.
Week after week, she followed up with her doctors. Despite her continued symptoms and ongoing pain, she hoped they would clear her to go back to work. Due to the severity of her case, they were unable to medically clear her to go back. This process lasted more than 3 months. Meanwhile, Catie was secretly struggling with anxiety & panic attacks, making it almost impossible to do life's simplest tasks.
For those of you who know Catie, you know she is on the go constantly, always has a new goal, and never stops till she achieves it. On the outside, Catie continued to focus on ensuring the happiness of her boyfriend, friends, and family, before her own.. and even started a new business to make a little extra income. On the inside, she was suffering silently. After weeks of failed attempts with new medications, Catie finally found some relief. During the last week of April, Catie was cleared to go back to work! She was so relieved and eager to be back. Things were looking up!
Unbelievably, after just one day of returning to work, she was back in the ER with severe abdominal pain. The scans performed only saw abdominal fluid, despite Catie informing them that she had passed kidney stones while at home. She was discharged with a diagnoses of simply, “abdominal pain”. She was sent home with NO pain relief, and NO answers. Despite her continued pain and frustration, she returned work on May 4th. This turned out to be short-lived, and the only day she would work since.
This past Memorial Day Weekend, Catie was rushed to the ER with severe nausea/pain/vomiting blood. Nurses were shocked & conerned when she arrived with an increased heart rate of 136, high blood pressure, and difficulty breathing, due to the amount of pain she was in. A CT scan showed an alarming finding. The lining of Catie's colon was 5 TIMES that of a normal person. A healthy person’s would measure about 3mm, while Catie’s was 16mm. She was diagnosed with Acute Colitis and urged to see a Gastrointestinal Specialist immediately to determine the cause. The ER mentioned possibilities such as Chron’s, Ulcerative Colitis, or more critically, Colon Cancer.
Yesterday, I accompanied Catie to her GI appointment. The doctor listened to her symptoms, completed an abdominal exam, and learned that both Catie’s mother and maternal Aunt suffered from Colon Cancer. Upon hearing this family history, the Attending Physician deemed it absolutely necessary to perform a colonoscopy. He believes he may find something that will need to be taken to pathology for testing, We are hopeful that if something is found, we have caught it early and can move forward with a treatment plan.
As you can imagine, being out of work for almost 5 months due to these consecutive health issues has left Catie with a huge burden, financially. Not only does she worry every single day about when she will find relief from the pain and discomfort, she is now constantly in fear of things so simple as paying for groceries.
Catie has always been extremely independent. Since moving out into her own apartment at 19, she has supported herself ever since. She
has an amazing boyfriend, Timmy, who loves her more than anything. He too has been struggling, watching the girl he loves suffer, while waiting for answers that could change their lives forever. He has begun selling his beloved collection of Jordan sneakers just to make ends meet, (something he has been aquiring for over 15 years), as well as working side jobs every weekend. He has taken many days off to be by her side during hospital visits & days where Catie couldn't physically do things for herself. He does everything he can to support her, but bills have added up without having Catie's more substantial income. During a random conversation on the way to the store the other day, we talked about what we would do if we ever hit the lotto. Catie's answer: "Buy my man his Jordan's back."
Catie is unable to use her PTO bc of lack of hours, (she missed 5 months bc of illness), and was not able to receive disability. She had treated a patient who had shingles symptoms just days prior to presenting with shingles herself, but was DENIED Workers’ Compensation. Her application for assistance via her life insurance policy, was denied as well. Through all this, Catie refuses to give up hope.
She is currently receiving shut-off notices from utility companies. Worst of all, they are struggling to pay the mortgage on their home and have been denied any assistance from the loan company. The medical bills have started to add up. The Colonoscopy alone next week will cost over $500 up front. We have the best parents in the world, who have been more than generous and have done their best to help, but they too are facing their own struggles. Just yesterday, our Dad underwent total hip replacement surgery and will be out of work for quite some time.
Catie joked the other day saying, "At this point, It would take a miracle to get back on my feet. But hey, I still have two legs and a beating heart." That sparked the idea to reach out, to you as our family and friends, for help. Catie is not one to share such personal details, or EVER ask for assistance for herself. If you could find it in your hearts to donate towards her medical expenses and bills, or even just share her story, I know she would be forever grateful. We are so thankful for your love & support. Let’s help “Nurse” Catie back to health!
- Xo Craig, Cathy, & Corie Rickard