This page exists to support the continued search of finding a proper diagnosis of Tom's health issues. We are thankful for those who have continued to support us in prayer as we seek answers. Below you can find Tom's story which will give a summary of what we have experienced over the past year and where we are now in our journey. Before the chronic health issues arose, Tom served as a pastor at our local church and had been a graduate student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC.
Tom's Story and Our Journey
For most of my life I have been a very active adult with no major health issues at all. I rarely have been sick over the past decade and have never experienced a serious illness until this year. My current issues can be traced back to late February 2017, when I experienced a severe episode of vertigo and fell to the floor not able to walk. This episode went on for about fifteen minutes and then I went to bed shortly after not having any other severe issues. Although the vertigo did not return, for the next three months I felt a constant feeling of being off balance like I was walking on a trampoline with every step I took. Between February and May, I saw my GP three times and was examined without finding a true diagnosis. During this time, I had a CT Scan (brain) done and a ton of routine blood work that did not turn up anything abnormal.
Fast forward to July 2017 when I started to have a number of GI issues that eventually caused us to go to the ER for further examination. At this time, I had another CT Scan done (this time of my abdomen) and more blood work done as well. Once again, the doctors told us that everything seemed to be normal and they could not make a diagnosis. I followed up with my GP every several weeks and more blood testing came back negative for many other conditions and chronic illnesses. We continued to pray and seek answers, but the doctors could not help us find the cause of all these chronic issues.
Beginning in the middle of October 2017, new symptoms arose such as extreme fatigue, muscle aches and spasms, burning/tingling pains, joint pain, vision problems, increased weight loss, and more severe GI issues. Further testing was done to rule out various auto immune disorders, bacterial infections, viruses, and other conditions such as fibromyalgia, MS, and arthritis. These tests were all negative. At this point, I was sent to a GI Specialist who scheduled a colonoscopy for early January 2018 to rule out colon cancer and other chronic GI disorders. We hope this may provide answers as the symptoms have been growing more severe every few weeks.
Recently, I have seen a few other doctors regarding my continued chronic health issues. Because many of the symptoms overlap with Lyme Disease, I have been recommended to test for it as other conditions have already been ruled out. I initially tested for Lyme through a standard test and the results were inconclusive as I showed positive for two bands of IGG and one IGM, but not enough to be given a full positive result (requires 5 or more bands). This happens to many people who actually have Lyme disease due to the outdated testing the CDC recommends. Given the nature of Lyme testing, an accurate test needs to be highly specific and selective and these can be very costly. We do think it is important to explore the Lyme issue with further testing.
For most folks, finding affordable health insurance can be really difficult with high premiums and deductibles. For this reason (and others), I had joined a faith-based health sharing network (not insurance) this past year, but according to an updated policy they are unable to help with any medical expenses as they classify all symptoms as pre-existing even though no diagnosis has ever been made for a specific illness or disease. We just learned this recently and are in the process of looking at health insurance options, but have not found any that will immediately help cover the cost of further testing. However, I do plan to purchase insurance for 2018 since the sharing network is no longer an option. Still, the deductibles are very high for us and each premium quite expensive.
So far this year, we have drained our entire savings to pay for the high cost of doctor visits and over 30 different tests which have been done and do not have an answer on how to move forward with any immediate medical expenses. Due to this situation and through much prayer and reflection we have been led to create this cause. It has been somewhat difficult to do this because I find it very hard to ask for help. I believe God is using part of this journey to teach us that he uses other people to help and bless those during difficult seasons. I pray that he would allow us to do the same for others down the road as well.
What’s Next for Us?
First, we continue to pray and search for answers in this difficult season. We trust that God will provide wisdom and answers to these issues in his own timing. There is always so much that we do not understand during these times, but we are confident God is working everything out for his good purpose.
Second, we would like to pursue the highly recommended Lyme testing that is available through IGeneX Labs as all the research points to this being the best testing available at this time. For the entire lab panel which covers both Lyme and existing co-infections is estimated at around $1000 in cost. In addition, we will plan to follow through with the GI specialist and get a colonoscopy done in January. Since we are planning for this to be under insurance the cost will be estimated at $2500 to $3000. There are also additional tests that the GI may pursue based on results of the colonsocopy which could bring up costs as well.
Currently, these are our next steps and based on new findings or issues we may have to explore other options as well. Also, once a diagnosis is made we will need to explore treatment options as well. We want to be as transparent as possible about how you can pray and what we are facing in a short time with these medical expenses. We will update with any changes or additional info as we go along so you are aware of the ongoing situation.
How Can You Help?
If you feel led to pray for us or to share in this journey by means of donation (or both) we would be truly blessed either way. Also, at your discretion we encourage you to share this page with family and friends. All donations will go directly to continued medical expenses and we will personally provide updates on this page as often as we are able and have information to pass along. Although we will receive all donations directly, we will be accountable for use of funds through our local church and will provide them with a record of donations received along with receipts used for all medical expenses at least every 30 days or as requested.
Ultimately, we know that God will provide and in every situation trust in his care over our lives. We appreciate and are thankful for the many blessings that God has given us and most especially the gift of Christ who has secured our eternal hope. In all of this, I long to get better in order to continue serving our church, pursue graduate studies, and to serve my wonderful and caring bride (Erin Neal) who has shown so much support and is very dear to me. At this time we must be patient and continue to pray that God would be glorified and made much of every step of the journey. Thank you for your prayers and support as we continue to move forward in hope, faith, and trust in God during this season.
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”
- Joe Gresock
- Joe Gresock