Lauren's Fight for Her Life

Our family started this GoFundMe campaign in hopes that my sister, Lauren, can get the care she desperately needs.  Lauren has spent the past two decades in and out of hospitals, at doctor appointments, physical therapy appointments, etc.  She has endured many painful procedures and surgeries to improve and alleviate various health complications, as well as to treat physical injuries she sustained from a severe car accident.  Her health is beginning to decline again and we are fearful of what might happen if she does not get the treatment she needs.

Here is her story.

Lauren began struggling with anorexia nervosa following a traumatic event in college.  She was 19 years old.  She went from being a happy, outgoing, and strong college athlete to a very ill and depressed young woman almost overnight.  She was eventually hospitalized and had to drop out of college her sophomore year.  She spent the next few years receiving outpatient care while also trying to work in hopes to go back to school. 

In the summer of 2006, Lauren was diagnosed with severe gastroparesis, which is paralysis of the stomach, and her health began to rapidly decline.  Her heart rate was in the teens at night, and her other organs were severely compromised.  For the next 2 years, she spent months at a time in the hospital and needed several surgeries and painful procedures to keep her alive. 

On June 10, 2008, feeling there were no other options and believing this was the best chance to save her life, doctors performed a vertical sleeve gastrectomy.  This bariatric procedure removed 85% of her stomach.  She is 5’8” and only weighed 82 pounds at the time of the procedure.  Recovery was extremely challenging, but with support from loved ones and a determination to get better no matter what, Lauren was eventually able to eat again and hopes for her future returned.

As her health improved, Lauren went back to work full time with a goal to return to college and get a degree in the healthcare field.  Sadly, on April 18, 2009, she was in a serious car accident on her way to work.  She was ejected and broke her neck at C2, sustained a brain injury, and had several broken bones, some of which needed reconstructive surgery.  On December 7, 2009, her neck was fused due to severe ongoing pain and debilitating headaches.  She spent years in physical therapy and received daily treatment for her brain injury at a rehabilitation hospital.  

Lauren’s physical injuries slowly healed, but she continued to have cognitive difficulties from the brain injury.  Due to the care and time she needed to recover, she was unable to return to work and has had to live off her monthly disability checks ever since - constantly struggling to cover the costs of food and other basic necessities, as well as continued treatment for PTSD and other healthcare needs.

In 2016, she began having digestive problems related to her bariatric surgery.  Dealing with her many health issues and a personal loss in her life, stress and anxiety took over and she relapsed back into anorexia.  

Recovery has been especially challenging because eating can make her very ill.  After months of testing, doctors recently diagnosed her with severe post prandiol hypoglycemia.  This is likely a permanent condition directly related to her bariatric surgery.  Doctors have been unable to fully explain and understand why this has become a chronic condition for her.  Her endocrinologist wants her to use a medical device called a Dexcom G6 that sits under the skin and gives an alert when her sugars drop.  However, she is unable to use it, because Medicare only covers this device for diabetics, and it is very expensive. 

Over the past 3 years, Lauren has needed a feeding tube to get adequate nutrition and to control her blood sugar.  Unfortunately, the feeding tube was causing several medical problems, so she had it removed last summer.  She also recently had a bowel resection and a second bariatric surgery to fix a problem from her initial surgery that was affecting her ability to swallow and was causing pain when she eats. 

We are so grateful Lauren has the opportunity to go to Princeton University Hospital in New Jersey for treatment.  They will work to find a diet to stabilize her blood sugars and treat her eating disorder.  She will likely be hospitalized for 3 months, because of her complicated medical history and current medical needs.  Once she is healthy enough to leave the hospital, she will continue receiving intensive outpatient treatment for at least another 6 months.  This part of her care will be an extension of her treatment at Princeton and is crucial to ensuring she maintains the health gains we expect her to make while she is inpatient.  The outpatient treatment will include guidance on her nutritional status and hypoglycemia, but will primarily focus on the trauma she has experienced, the health struggles she has faced over the years, and the impact they have had on her life. 

Eating disorders are biologically based brain illnesses influenced by many different factors, including: genetic predisposition, personality traits, trauma, and environmental.  In Lauren’s case, it is even more difficult to treat due to her chronicity, blood sugar instability, and only having 15% of her stomach.  It is very difficult for her to eat properly when her stomach is so small and when food causes her blood sugars to reach dangerously low levels. 

Lauren has struggled to get the treatment she needs due to insurance restrictions and financial constraints and the challenges of finding the right medical specialists to handle the various medical issues she has.  Just as someone needs a surgeon to fix their heart disease, or any other diseased organ, Lauren needs doctors and qualified professionals to help her get better.  She cannot do this alone.  Your contribution will help her have a chance to live a happy and productive life outside of doctors’ offices and hospitals. 

As Lauren has struggled with health issues for so long now, her doctors believe it is vital that she get help soon, before it is too late and she sustains a life threatening complication.  She is at a breaking point and struggles daily with the fear that her future may never get better.  The amount of pain and suffering she has gone through has been insurmountable and heartbreaking to watch her go through.  While this is a long-term treatment plan, the amount of money we are able to raise with this GoFundMe will directly impact how much treatment she will actually be able to receive.  We are hoping to raise enough money to ensure she is able to get through the entire treatment plan, which we believe will be crucial for her recovery.   

These are the expenses your support will help with:

* Airfare costs to and from Princeton University Hospital in New Jersey
* Any hospital bills that her insurance will not cover, along with other treatments her doctors recommend
* Purchase of a Dexcom G6 to alert her when she has low blood sugars
* Apartment rental after she is released from inpatient care at the hospital and continues outpatient treatment
* Car rental to drive to outpatient treatment - her current car is too old to drive safely while out of state

Thank you so much for reading our story.  Any amount, no matter how small, would be such a blessing to Lauren and our family!  Even if you are unable to contribute, we would be so grateful if you would share her story with others and pray for her.  She is so driven and dedicated to getting better.  She just needs our help!

If you prefer not to donate online, you are welcome to write a check directly to Lauren Bowman, and mail it to her at the following address:

Lauren Bowman
1603 Glenover Ct.
Columbia, MO  65202

We will update you on Lauren’s progress and let you know how she is doing on a regular basis!


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Organizer and beneficiary

Kristen Bowman Hockman 
Columbia, MO
Lauren Bowman 
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