Gerriann is a talented teacher and writer. A recent change in her vision spurred visits to a local urgent care, vision specialist, and two emergency rooms until an MRI revealed the following:
(For those of you who are medically savvy, here is the medical jargon related to her diagnosis: "FINDINGS: there are multiple foci of diffusion stricture involving the right occipital lobe, splenium of the corpus callosum the right of midline, and the right hippcampus compatible with recent right posterior infarcts. No acute hemorrhage. There is mild to moderate chronic micro-vascular ischemia.") In regular English, this means, she had blockages to arteries (strokes) in the cerebellum, specifically to the parts of the brain that process vision, balance, and bearings. She describes the change to her vision as going from clearly seeing fine details to seeing faces that more closely resemble a painting by Picasso. The visual distortion has a definite affect on her balance and additionally, it has completely eliminated driving from her repertoire of daily activities. She has also reported that the strokes have affected cognitive processes such as remembering the day of the week, the date, and at the onset, even recognizing rooms in the house. Her new motto is "trust the tags" when getting dressed to help her recognize the front and back of clothing.
Another consequence of the visual distortion has been the loss of her two teaching positions. She was an adjunct English instructor at a community college and had just begun a position working with middle school students to address deficits in reading comprehension and vocabulary. The loss of income will be significant on top of mounting medical expenses which include CT scans, extensive blood work, an echocardiogram, hospital stay, and an MRI. The prognosis for a full recovery is excellent, provided she is able to receive all of the recommended treatments, such as physical and cognitive therapies, recommended by the neurologist at the hospital.
Her husband, Ruben is extremely supportive. He has missed several days of work so far, in the search for the correct diagnosis. The deductible on the health insurance through his company is $3,500 for her, after which insurance picks up 80% and they are responsible for the remaining 20%.
Ruben and Gerriann are grateful for any contributions made to this website. She is looking forward to beginning therapy as soon as possible, driving herself to campus, grading papers, and above all, working with her students again. Your contributions will make all of these aspirations her reality and help her focus her energy on her recovery. Thank you for taking time to consider their life changing event.
May Elo Roi, the God who sees, restore her vision completely and bless you for your contribution.
UPDATE - MARCH 3
It has been 3 weeks since Gerriann first experienced the effects of her strokes. Here is an update from Gerriann along with her appreciation for your help in this tough time.
There's always a journey . . . no matter what is going on. It stretches our trust. I think the more we surrender, the easier it is for God to work the lessons . . . and there's always a lesson. The lessons are pretty much always the same
1) Trust in the LORD with all your heart
2) He works ALL things for good
3) In everything give thanks
4) His grace is sufficient.
5) Don't bother making plans (see # 1)
Ruben and I are still finding humor and joy in all of this and we don't have to look very far for blessings. We have each other, prayer cover that comes from friends near and far and even from many we don't know. Friends and family have called, brought meals, made financial contributions, (ohmygoodness!!!!) and driven me to appointments so Ruben doesn't have to take time off from work.
Ruben never tires of me asking him what day it is (but I don't have to ask him several times the same day like I did immediately following the strokes.) ~ I think today is March 1, Friday. ~ We are adjusting to our new normal. That means I have to grab his arm to help me walk outside and it means he sees the panic in my eyes immediately when I get disoriented in the house. "I can do it myself" isn't always the smartest response. In other words, I can find my way to the restroom at a restaurant, but there are no signs that point back to the booth and I didn't drop any bread crumbs. I can recognize my way around local area streets, (when someone else is driving) but not with absolute confidence. And the feeling of being disorientated miles from home is quite terrifying. I told Ruben I'm planning to push the envelope to see where the edge is, but the edge is still a scary place to be at times.
We have been moved to tears and have been overwhelmed at the outpouring of concern and practical help that we've received. We are learning not to take anything for granted, so give a hug to the ones you love and tell them how much they mean to you. There is no time like the present, and no present like the time. (Which reminds me, I can tell time now, even on a clock with Roman numerals. Yay!) Don't let anyone tell you that it's not the little joys in life that make the world so wonder-full. And nope, that's not a typo!)
We thank God for the countless acts of kindness and prayers. This week was a week of rest and seeing where my limitations were. The hard work of finding therapists who are in our insurance network is our priority for next week. We have been encouraged by stories of others who have seen almost full recovery after they have had strokes, so we are believing in that for me. When I was disabled in 2012 following a routine surgery, I was determined to adjust to whatever our new normal was going to be. While it took about two years, I returned to almost 100% and it turned out to be a great gift for Ruben and me as it helped us depend more on each other and more on the Lord. Since we learned that lesson 7 years ago, this time hasn't been nearly as stressful.
Thank you so much for your generosity and prayers. Words truly can not express our gratitude. We pray that God would multiply back to you the blessings and hope you have given to us.
Ruben and Gerriann Martinez