July 12, 2022- This is where things are at now for Travis Stephens. (it’s not good)
The last few weeks felt like Travis' team had been making solid progress. His Endocrinologist & Gastroenterologist discussed his case; Agreeing that the best course of action for Travis to see an improvement in his health would require a pancreas transplant; Paperwork was to be started for referral to the Mayo Clinic. He also did an at-home sleep test, which we’re waiting.
Travis’s nurse (Jody) stopped by this past Friday (July 8 ‘22) for his home visit. She’s been trying to bridge the MANY communication gaps between Travis and his doctors.
After hearing about the transplant recommendation, she checked in with his doctor for details and asked what she could do to help get the ball rolling. His doctor says Travis would be ineligible for the surgery because he has GASTROPARESIS???????
Travis, his nurse and I are all shocked and confused. - I’ll explain:
(Nov ‘20) Travis was diagnosed with Gastroparesis, a chronic illness that doesn’t allow his stomach to empty correctly nor get the nutrients he needs being a diabetic. Over the following year, he was treated accordingly and had minimal improvement.
After additional testing a year later (Aug ‘21), Travis was told he does NOT have Gastroparesis.
Here we are a year later (July 22), and again, being told he does have Gastroparesis! This is just the latest example of the uttar communication failure Travis has faced since his health turned two years ago. He’s told one thing in person; it’s different on paper, over the phone, rinse & repeat.
Travis is one of her youngest adult patients, and she does seem to care truly. Nurse Jody thankfully is swooping in and will be reaching out again to all the doctors and getting ahold of all of Travis’ medical paperwork and documentation. We hope she can get everyone on the same page again.
When diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as a child, Travis was well versed and strict in monitoring and managing his diabetes. Keeping his blood sugars in check to avoid severe complications from DKA, which can be life-threatening. However, the stomach issues and various other ailments he’s developed over the past two years have caused difficulties with his diabetes.
At a recent doctor appointment, Travis was told he has the insides of an 80-year-old man. And that his body will not survive many more episodes of Diabetic KetoAcidosis ((DKA), which he’s developed during each trip to the hospital since these issues started getting worse).
Countering that dire news, Travis was given hope and optimism when told about the pancreatic transplant.
Travis’s body is no longer cooperating with management.
While his blood sugars have not been alarmingly high (>200), The last few days, they have been yo-yoing between his ideal range of <200 and worryingly low <60. As I was writing this all up, Travis was sleeping on the living room couch and had been laid up all day with fatigue, and nausea, apart from his multiple trips to the bathroom with diarrhea.
Travis has been poked, prodded, scoped etc., without real answers. Thus far, the most promising is that a pancreas transplant will allow his body to recover and function properly.
This is where it gets bad.
Travis needs this transplant. Otherwise, he may not live to see his 50s. The prognosis was not good when he was told that he has the innards of an 80-year-old man.
If Travis has Gastroparesis, there will be no pancreas transplant.
While we remain hopeful that a pancreatic transplant is still in the cards for Travis, despite this recent snafu, and hope the gastroparesis diagnosis is a mistake, Travis is still awaiting Arizona to approve him for disability. He remains without any means of income outside of this GoFundMe.
How did we get here, and why am I hosting this?
My name is Deanna O’Neill; Born and raised in Arizona. My husband, Irish, and I started dating late summer of 2005, and we’ve been married for ten years.
Years ago, we met (cue Jason DeVore impression) our man Mister Travis Stephens- exactly when we can’t say; We know it was a local Authority Zero show or was it an acoustic Jason DeVore set?
Facebook says we’ve been friends since September 2015. Making sure to stop and catch up while he was working a show in town, Which is not easy because when he is in work mode, Travis has a severe resting bitch face. In any case, we all came to be friends over the years.
After a show or while, he’s just out and about; we learned Travis is just a joyful, jubilant, awnry guy. Who is often, if not always, smiling. ( I might get crap for saying that, though, oh well- I’m the one running his GofundMe)
Catching up at a show, he let us know his roommates were not renewing their lease, and he’d need to find an affordable new place to stay. After a LENGTHY discussion (no, not really). Irish and I suggested Travis move out to the middle of nowhere in San Tan Valley and live with us. Rent was cheap, and most of the time, he’d be gone out seeing the world with the band Authority Zero, or as he calls it “working.”
There is sarcasm there; anyone that’s ever been to an Authority Zero show knows that Travis worked his ass off on tour for that band. Loaded/unloaded equipment, drove hours on end, managed merch, changed guitar strings, and set up and tear down the stage. Etc. Etc. That list would go on and on. It was almost impressive to see this scrawny little dude (he’s barely taller than me) play real-life Tetris, shoving music equipment into a van/trailer.
At the end of summer 2019, Travis got his cheap rent, and we got our roommate, who would often be out of state touring the world working, and our English Bulldog, Maggie, was getting Sid the Pit as a roommate. WIN, WIN, WIN!
All's well that ends well, right?
2020 reared its ugly head, and the nation world was suddenly faced with a pandemic, The likes of which had not been seen for a hundred years. Travis, our new shiny roommate that was going to be gone weeks at a time, was working and paying cheap rent; Suddenly, he found himself out of work, sheltering in place; With Irish and I in the middle of nowhere.
By that summer, Irish had also been laid off. With no certainty on how long pandemic assistance would continue and no opportunities in his career field for the foreseeable future, Irish relocated to Colorado to work for his family. I’ve stayed behind to finish out the lease on our house.
So Travis, Sid, Maggie, and I, learned to live among each other during a pandemic; Without driving each other completely insane and keeping each other from going insane.
Then things with Travis’s health started to get weird, and not in a good way. My documentation for that year isn't great (Never in my nightmares would we have ended up here), and I’ll redact/update as needed later.
Travis does not like the heat, and his body does not like the AZ sun. Both were new elements for him to combat, as he hadn’t endured an entire Arizona summer in many years. Shots of insulin were not keeping his blood sugars down.
Trouble regulating body temperature, loss of appetite, visible weight gain, and frequent anxiety attacks. He started to have nausea, fatigue, pain, and various other symptoms around the clock. As those issues worsened, he developed new ones.
On November 8, ‘20, I had to take Travis to the ER after he’d been having all sorts of stomach issues which was causing complications with his diabetes. He was admitted to the ICU. He wouldn’t be discharged for another eight days.
Travis would begin seeing doctors and specialists of all kinds for the next six months as they attempted to treat and solve Travis’ barrage of recently developed health issues. During this time, he was admitted four more times to the hospital.
Our fur babies did not fare well during this time either. As we looked towards the hope of a new year, Maggie passed away following a seizure in the early morning of January 2nd, 2021. The year was not off to a good start. Sid didn’t understand why his friend never came home, and he was noticeably mourning.
Not long after Travis had been treating a growth on Sid’s leg, it had stopped responding to medication and grew quickly. Travis and I started discussing having Sid put down.
Those discussions ended quickly; days later, Travis was taken by ambulance and admitted to the ICU for the 5th time.
With Travis in the hospital for the foreseeable future, His friend Alle and I would have to take Sid to be put down ourselves to end his suffering. Travis had to say his goodbyes over facetime.
RIP Sid the Pit, May 25, 2021
With assistance from the pandemic ending, Travis has been out of work for over a year. With an avalanche of bills stacking up and the costs for the vet, I started this GoFundMe to help him out. Initially, he didn’t want us asking for much. Just enough to get by at the time.
That was over a year ago. Travis was taken to the hospital by myself or by ambulance- I’ve lost track of how many times (10+).
Travis’s issues have only gotten more complicated. He’s had to fight for his care every step of the way. Insurance, Pharmacies, Doctors, Hospitals. He takes ten prescriptions every day.
Due to his pre-existing conditions and fragile health, Travis makes few exceptions to leave the house to avoid catching covid. He can’t work; hell, he can barely move or function most days. It’s a depressing situation. I’ve watched this all take a toll on Travis physically, emotionally, and mentally. His current weight and how it’s being carried is that of a woman eight months pregnant, wearing on his back and shoulders.
Last summer (July 21), some friends of mine asked me to take in their son's pit bull in the hopes we’d bond and I could adopt him. Indy, the pitbull, decided he was adopting Travis instead. Indy has helped Travis in all the ways a dog can, but there are still some things that are out of his reach.
As all of this has continued, we’ve adjusted the campaign goal multiple times. I’ve done what I can to help and care for him. I’m not a fan of asking for financial assistance, but there’s only so much my husband and I can afford to help, and it’s simply not enough. Please share and Donate if you can. Every bit helps Travis on this long road he has in front of him.