Crystal's Medical Care Fund
On January 2, 2016, Crystal Marrs started her Saturday just like she normally would when she had to work her produce job at Kroger. She got out of bed without waking me, did her regular morning routine, and went to work for her eight hour shift. When she had finished work at 3:00 pm, she got in her car and began to drive home. Little did she know that, through no fault of her own, her life was about to be changed forever.
On Crystal’s way home, at approximately 3:22 pm, she suffered a cardiac arrest that caused her to lose consciousness while she was driving. Fortunately, it was a single car accident and nobody else was involved when her 2002 Honda Accord went off South Atlanta Road, through some bushes, and hit a utility pole going 30 mph. At 3:29 pm, Cobb County Fire and Police arrived on the scene to find Crystal unresponsive and began CPR as soon as they could get her out of the car. On her way to Kennestone Hospital, she suffered a second “ventricular fibrillation” and was “shocked” back to a normal heart rhythm by EMS.
A MIRACLE OCCURS
Doctors at the Kennestone emergency room were able to stabilize Crystal, but fearful that her brain tissue may have been damaged due to lack of oxygen, they put her into a medically induced hypothermic coma for 48 hrs. Basically, her body temperature was lowered to 92 degrees in order to slow the body from metabolizing cells, with the goal being to halt any tissue damage that may have occurred to her brain. While she was still unresponsive, I asked the doctors “On a scale of one to ten, what are her chances of waking up and coming out of this?” I was told a “three.”
On January 5, 2016, at 10:30 am, Crystal beat all the odds: she opened her eyes, looked at me, and understood what I said to her. The doctors in the CCU were amazed and said that it was nothing short of a miracle that she woke up. She would spend the next four days in the CCU, where she would be known as the “miracle girl,” and was told to other patient’s families in the unit as a story of hope. She would have to spend another six days in the hospital recovering from her injuries, as well as a surgery to resolve a hematoma that developed in her pelvis from heparin (blood thinner) that was administered to dissolve blood clots in her arm. Finally, on January 15, 2016, Crystal came home from the hospital.
AN UNDIAGNOSED FUTURE
The doctors still do not know what caused Crystal’s heart to go into “ventricular fibrillation.” She has never had heart problems, or any signs of a weak heart: no fatigue, no shortness of breath, no chest pains, no palpitations, nothing. As the Doctors do not know what caused her heart to fail, she was prescribed an external defibrillator device to wear until some more testing can be done. After that, she will have an internal defibrillator implanted in her chest until the doctors can diagnose her condition. Although Crystal does not remember the accident, which is apparently normal, she also suffers from additional long term and short term memory issues. Crystal will need a lot of rehab to recover from her injuries and to get her life back to normal.
The medical bills are beginning to arrive and they are already past $10,000. She was able to get health insurance through the health exchange, but due to her condition and other factors, the monthly payments are high and the insurance does not take effect until March. She has been taken out of work by her doctors for the next 8 to 10 weeks, so she has no income. She will also need surgery so she can have the internal defibrillator which will enable her to have a normal life.
I’VE ALWAYS DEPENDED ON THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS
Crystal is now in need of another miracle to help her recover from this horrible accident. The fundraising amount of $50,000 is just an early estimate to cover her medical bills, as well as other expenses that need to be covered until she is allowed to go back to work. Her internal defibrillator alone will cost $8,000, and that is with insurance. She is too proud to ask for help herself, so as her fiancé, I’m asking for her. Please, be her miracle and donate whatever amount you can afford. If the medical bills are not as much as predicted, then whatever donations that are not used will be donated to another person’s medical bills on gofundme. Thank you for your kindness in helping Crystal get through this terrible ordeal.
Crystal’s Ventricular Cardiomyopathy/Dysplasia condition seems to have stabilized. Thanks to your generous donations, she was able to have the surgery to have her subcutaneous defibrillator implanted. It is a 3’’ x 3’’ x 3/4’’ device that sits beneath the skin. She has now fully recovered from this surgery and the scars are healing nicely (Mederma cream). The implant has not fully situated in her muscle tissue, so there is a little uncomfortable movement when she lies on her left side, but that will take more time. Instead of having to go to the cardiologist every month to have a check up, the implant using wifi technology to send updates. Every week, she uses a home heart reader to download information from the implant and the reader sends a report to the cardiologist via internet. Cool, huh? Although she has to take heart medications every day, she only has to see her cardiologist once a year now for a check-up, which is just awesome as it helps with medical costs. With this implant, the next time she has a cardiac arrest the implant will shock her heart back into its normal rhythm. The implant also provides us with peace of mind to know that she has a level of protection from the next event.
Unfortunately, Crystal’s neuropathy in her left leg is going to be permanent. You may recall that during her hospital stay she was on heparin for some DVT blood clots in her left arm. The heparin caused a hematoma to develop in her pelvis, which was left undiagnosed/misdiagnosed for 48hrs that caused irreparable damage to the femoral nerve. She now has no reflexes in her left leg which prevents her from walking stairs and running, and causes her to lose her balance. She will have to use a cane to help her walk. A weird thing she talks about is that, although she cannot feel anything that touches her skin on the inside of the entirely of her left leg, her leg still feels like it is cold all the time and gets cold faster than the other leg. She also have pain every day and is on Neurontin to relieve the pain (insurance would not pay for Lyrica). Crystal does home physical therapy 3-5 days a week and her neurologist is encouraged that the muscles in her right leg are compensating for her loss of movement in her left leg, and that the muscles that are working in her left leg are maintaining their strength. There is, however, some concern that the neuropathy may be spreading some in her left foot, so that will be revaluated in April. She is still trying to adjust to her new life limitations, which is a constant day-to-day struggle and she has good days and bad days with her condition.
Now, here are a couple of things I have learned over the past year that I would like to share with you. Give them any consideration you think is warranted.
When you are speaking to someone with a chronic pain condition, do not offer ways that you think will help alleviate the pain. Trust me, the person would have exhausted every single cure or treatment that exists. I know you think you are helping, but the reality is you are just reminding the person of their pain and the fact that they are broken. The best thing you can do is just say you are sorry for what she has to go through and if she needs anything, to please ask you.
This past year has been particularly negative for a lot of people in many different ways (I will not list them here). I also have learned that you need to focus on the positive as much as possible; no matter how insignificant you think it may be. The little triumphs of getting a good night’s sleep, not crying from pain, being able to go out for a few hours to be social with friends and loved ones, and receiving support from people who you barely know are all worth noting. It is these types of acts of kindness that keep hope alive in the face of fierce negativity. Also, it is important that you enjoy the happy moments of your life to the fullest extent, whatever that may be and never let anyone tell you that something you are passionate about is stupid or a waste of time.
Lastly, as we begin 2017, I encourage you never to miss an opportunity to tell someone important in your life how you feel about them and how much they have made difference in your life. You may think that you will always have that opportunity tomorrow, but as I have learned, that is not necessarily true. If it is good enough to say to someone you care about tomorrow, it is good enough to say to them today.
Thank you again for all your continued support. You have made a difference in our life that we will never be able to repay.
As you may know, Crystal had the surgery for the subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). When Crystal has her next cardiac arrest, this device will shock her heart back in rhythm. (I say when because the doctor says after you have one, it is not a question of "if" it happens again, but "when"). Not only is it a life saver, it brings her piece of mind and takes a huge amount of stress off our life. She has a few more weeks of recovery from the surgery, as she is still very sore, but the doctor has cleared her to drive and says the device is working perfectly. We can now go places without worrying about her having an arrest and not having help.
The only bad news is that, after all the tests that were done, the doctors still do not have a definitive diagnosis about her condition. All the tests show that she had a cardiac arrest, but the doctors are still not sure why it happened. They are treating her as if she has ventricular dysplasia because it was her ventricles that stopped pumping blood when the arrest occurred. The "cause" could have been a combination of some form of dysplasia, combined with work stress, diet, smoking, and any number of other factors that all came together at the same time to cause the arrest. For now, they will just monitor her heart, she has quit smoking, and we are trying to live a healthier lifestyle.
She will continue with the heart medications, but the good news is that she will not have as many doctor appointments in the future. The ICD has a home monitor that sends a report to her doctor every three months, which is nice. She will only have to see the cardiologist once a year for a check-up. Of course, if the ICD shocks her, it will be sooner, but fingers crossed that it won't happen anytime to soon.
So, that wraps up her heart condition treatment for now. It was your donations that made it possible for her to have all the tests and the ICD surgery. She still has medical bills from her hospital stay and treatment, but she is making small payments. Not sure yet how that will play out, but for now, she will just do the best she can.
As for the never damage in her left leg, that is about the same. As previously stated, that recovery has plateaued. She still has constant leg pain and is unable to walk stairs, has no reflexes in her left leg, and struggles to walk and carry things. She continues to do her therapy, and we just had a yard sale to get rid of some stuff so we can turn one of the rooms into a rehab room for her. There is not much hope that the nerve will ever come back.
The most frustrating thing is that the nerve damage never should have happened. If it were not for the carelessness of the hospital's doctors/nurses in not diagnosing the hematoma caused by the heparin, she would not have this nerve damage. She is currently investigating whether a medical malpractice suit should be brought for the nerve damage. This is the condition that prevents her from working, or doing any of the things that she enjoyed before this all happened. It also causes her constant pain and makes her get tired. But, the good news is that the Cubs are in the World Series, and as a life long Cubs fan, Crystal is very excited.
Well, that is all. I will leave the Go Fund Me page up for now for any more donations to help with past medical bills. I will post updates once a month, unless something happens that will need to be shared. We could never fully convey our gratitude, but again, THANK YOU!! And GO CUBBIES!!
Ethan, I know a great lawyer that deals with disability issues if you ever think you need one. You can also see about getting her on medical medicaid or medicare if she can get disability.