Hi! My name is Susan, and I want to share a friend's story. I've known Shannon Efteland for about nine years, and I have to say that she's one of the strongest moms I know. When I first met her at a homeschooling co-op, she was homeshooling her son Jonas and had little Liam in tow. Shannon would soon find that, in addition to being an advocate for Liam—who has Down syndrome—she would also have to be an advocate for Jonas.
After many doctors’ appointments and endless rounds of testing, Jonas was diagnosed with autism and a brain inflammation. Never one to be defeated, Shannon dove into research so that she could provide the best care possible for Jonas. She put her life and career on hold to serve her children.
A few years later Phoenix came, and for a while he developed normally. Then one day he was bitten by a tick. His arm started to swell and a rash developed. Shannon and her husband immediately took him to the doctor, who put him on a round of antibiotics. But several months later, Phoenix started exhibiting symptoms that eerily resembled Jonas' brain inflammation symptoms.
Undaunted, Shannon took him for testing. She knew she would have to be proactive if Phoenix was going to have the best chance to beat this. Just yesterday she learned that he does, indeed, have autoimmune encephalitis (brain inflammation) caused by Lyme disease. The road to recovery is a long one (6-8 months of treatment and many doctors’ appointments), but it's not an unfamiliar one. Nor is it a road Shannon will shy away from, even though it will be extremely difficult.
In addition to being a lengthy road to recovery possibly filled with setbacks and trying times, it will also be expensive. I’ve spent years watching Shannon give to friends, to her kids, and to her students. She builds up people in the Down syndrome community, and she gives her boys every ounce of energy she has. Despite all her worries, she still manages to laugh and to think about others. I want to help alleviate some of the financial burden so she and her husband can just focus on helping Phoenix recover while simultaneously taking care of the older boys.
The family currently has ongoing medical expenses for both Jonas and Liam, and though Shannon is not one to complain, I know that these added expenses—especially during these trying economic times—can be crushing. Shannon is all about helping others. Let us show her the true meaning of community and do what we can to lighten the load.
Thank you for anything you can share with her and her family as they work to help Phoenix. We truly appreciate you.