Alissa and her family have spent the past thirteen years searching for an answer. Under the constant care of Boston neurologists, surgeons, and pediatricians, pain therapists and counselors, pain clinics, chiropractors, acupuncturists; various homeopaths, naturopaths, nutritionists, and allergists, her pain has still persisted. All norms of medicine, therapies and treatment options have utterly failed to help.
In spite of the pain, Alissa had always done her best to push through, and do the things she loves: playing the cello in youth orchestras and ensembles, singing in her indie-folk band, playing sports, volunteering with children in medical and classroom settings, reading, writing, studying and laughing.
Now, Alissa's pain is so intense, she spends about 90% of her days in her room with the shades drawn, mostly alone. Light, smell and sound can be a trigger. She is desperate for relief from the overwhelming daily pain, and hoping for the chance to lead a normal life. For those who know and love Alissa, seeing her in pain, and being powerless to help, is heart wrenching.
A few years ago, we found out about migraine surgery, and our hopes soared. Over the past decade, it was determined that a routine procedure for plastic surgery significantly decreased, or even completely eliminated migraine pain for 50 to 90% of chronic migraine sufferers. http://www.massgeneral.org/plasticsurgery/services/treatmentprograms.aspx?id=1383
Alissa excitedly and extensively consulted with several migraine surgeons, including Dr. William G. Austen, Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Mass General; Alissa is the perfect candidate for the procedure! The surgery, in Alissa’s case, will target four separate sites ($5,000 per site), at a total cost of $20,000. Insurance will not cover it. Though her parents have been trying for years to fund the surgery, they’re struggling financially, and have simply been unable to do it.
Even with the tremendous pain, Alissa is taking college courses towards a degree in the medical field, maintaining a 3.95 GPA. Ever-determined and always optimistic, she is hoping to use the experience of her pain and hardship to bring compassion and help to others.
So many of the things Alissa used to do when she could get a break from the pain of her migraines — things that brought great joy to those around her, and purpose to her own life — seem more and more out of reach. Wouldn’t it be absolutely wonderful if we could help this beautiful young woman get her life back?
With deepest gratitude and thanks -
Photo courtesy of Kathy Joyce
More links regarding this process...
Migraine Sufferers May Find Relief: Boston Globe 2014
Chronic Migraines Relieved by Surgery
She expects to be walking out of the surgery center by "suppertime"!
I know you are all keeping her in your thoughts and prayers! We're with you Lissy!
The recovery period can be 2 weeks or more, maybe less. Asking for your continued prayers and warm thoughts! If locals want to check in with Gail and Scott to see if they need a break, or if someone wants to take Alissa's rambunctious puppy for a walk, or drop off soup or whatever, please contact Gail through a text.
My brother Chip is taking my Mom to his place for an extended visit; contact him if you'd like to see them while Mom is closer to Concord!
Here is Alissa Heitmann playing a piano piece she wrote...it sounds like a journey to me....
There was some discussion of the surgery being done on March 29, although nothing has been confirmed! Keep praying! Hoping Alissa is getting closer!
Basically I did not factor in the % of fees that must be deducted from the amount raised to support this effort (5% goes to GoFundMe, which staffs and manages this huge effort; another 3% goes to the payment processor). We will be several thousand $ short if I don't increase the overall goal.
I was also going on earlier estimates for the surgery without factoring in aspects of the post-op period.
If you have contributed to this effort and feel changing the total amount of $ we are trying to raise is not in line with your initial intention to help, please contact me to follow up.
I am also applying to the hospital's foundation and other avenues to reduce the cost of the procedure and peri-operative care.
I really apologize for this; I've been going around and around about what impact this could have on "Alissa's Journey": I felt like increasing the goal amount kind of takes the wind out of the sail a bit. But after talking with others, we decided I should really do this now. We'll see how far we go!
No matter what, this has been an incredibly humbling and awesome thing to witness: I am amazed at all the people who are helping...people we know or knew many years ago, people we've never met, people from all over the world.
It's incredibly heartwarming to know that you can look to your left, look to your right, look to your past, or look far ahead: in every direction, there is someone who cares for you, who has compassion for you, and wants to help you get through a challenging time.
Alissa is my cousin and one of the sweetest persons I have ever met. Let's rise up to bring her aid. We cannot let her suffer in the dark anymore. Even a dollar can help! Love you Alissa.