Travis & Katie Reitter Support Fund
What we know now is that Travis has a rare and life-changing disease known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). GBS is when your body's immune system attacks your nerves. Visit the GBS International Foundation for more information.
The cause of GBS is unknown. While devastating to experience and witness, there is hope. Many patients of GBS go on to make full recoveries. As an otherwise healthy young man, there is every reason to expect that Travis will recover, though recovery may take over six months to two years or longer.
To say that Katie and Travis' life has been upended is an understatement. As many of us know, the Reitters were overjoyed to welcome baby Julia to their family in March. While eight month old Julia is the sweetest and most smiley baby, she requires her own round-the-clock care. When Katie isn't by Travis' bedside in the ICU, she is shuttling Julia to child care or trying to spend any kind of quality time with her. Katie is dealing with the dizzying chaos of disability claims, insurance, work, and family finances, not to mention the "ordinary" demands of being a new mother and non-profit employee. Travis' recovery will be a marathon, not a sprint, and everyone close to the situation is digging in for the long haul.
Travis and Katie Reitter are some of the kindest and best people in the world, and they need us now. Travis is known for his passion for life and positive outlook, love for his family and commitment to living a happy and healthy lifestyle. He is loving, generous, creative, and loves being a husband and dad. Travis is a senior software developer with awesome technical chops. One of his joys is traveling to other countries to give talks at large conventions and seminars, making international friends all along the way. He has a huge network to help him and Katie through through this.
Katie, ironically, has spent her entire career working for organizations that fight for social justice and care for the most vulnerable in our society, and now she and her family are the ones in need. She has a deep commitment to women's health and the environment and is an incredible mom to Julia.
We are lucky to live in a modern, sharing economy, and there are many services that can help ease their burden. Things like babysitting, housecleaning, food preparation and delivery, in-home nursing care, insurance, and more are all available.. but they come at a steep price.
Please contribute generously to the Travis and Katie Reitter support fund. No amount is too small, and every donation counts. We know that Travis and Katie would be the first in line to help any of us, and this is a very tangible way that you can make a difference in their lives when they need it most. Thank you so much for your consideration and generous support.
If you would like to leave well wishes for the family, please leave them on the Go Fund Me page. We encourage you to give Katie and Travis space at this time and refrain from sending texts or placing calls.
Here is a video of Travis and Julia filmed the day he started having symptoms. Let us all look forward to future moments like these.
I'm now very independent so we were able to cancel my in-home care. I can do all my day-to-day tasks on my own. No need for help getting dressed, taking a shower, or making a meal. I even cooked scrambled eggs standing over the stove a few times. And I can use regular private and public restrooms which makes life easier.
I started outpatient physical therapy. The first appointment went way beyond my expectations. I had hoped to walk with the help of the horizontal bars. But after we did that, my therapist had me use a walker and even crutches (which I didn't realize I could handle). My stride was pretty steady so my therapist suggested I skip over the walker and go straight to crutches at home which I'm now doing. Then I climbed and descended the stairs which was straightforward.
In my second appointment, I handled the stairs completely on my own, so my therapist cleared us to move back to our own house! We don't have a move date yet but my goal is ASAP :)
I tried walking unassisted (holding my crutches just slightly off the ground) and was able to do three laps around my in-laws' house (with a supported lap between each). It's a little clunky so I look a little like a toddler/mummy/Frankenstein's monster but I'm happy with the progress. A week ago, I could only last a couple steps before I had to rely on the crutches.
I can also get onto the ground (and, importantly, back to my chair) to play with Julia which has been a joy. The first time, she couldn't stop excitedly squealing.
Next time, I hope I'll be able to say my walking is steadier and we've settled in at home!
Thanks again to all of you for your support!
First, I'd like to thank everyone for your incredible generosity. It's hard enough to deal with such a serious condition without having to worry about the associated costs. This support, both emotionally and financially, has been such a huge relief for me and my family. I was especially touched by the sheer number of friends, family members, and even strangers donated.
After we launched this campaign, a highlight of each day was Katie updating me on the latest contributions and comments. It was a great comfort when I was stuck in bed in the ICU, unable to talk and often in a lot of pain which few drugs relieved adequately.
So far, we've put the contributions to good use hiring home care to assist me when Katie is working.
Within days of being hospitalized, I was paralyzed below the neck and required a ventilator full-time to breathe and a feeding tube for nutrition. In the intervening three months, I've recovered surprisingly-quickly for the severity of my GBS. One doctor referred to me as a "unicorn". Now, I breathe and talk normally, can eat any food (which I can feed myself), have good use of my arms and hands (which still lack some sensitivity and fine-motor control but otherwise work), and can activate most muscles in my legs though most are still fairly limited. I'm regularly surprised by sudden strength improvements which sometimes literally happen over night.
I was discharged from the hospital Jan 31 and I'm happily adjusting to a lot of my pre-hospital routines like spending time with my wonderful wife and daughter. It's wonderful to be able to feed, hold, and play with her again.
I'm also keeping busy with exercises to further speed my recovery and pushing my wheelchair around the neighborhood (weather permitting). I keep retrying movements which I, until recently, couldn't do like board-free transfers to and from my wheelchair. This makes me more independent. We've already been able to halve the home care hours I need!
Again, I'd like to thank everyone for your incredible support. I'll post more updates here when I hit major milestones (especially walking!).
This week Travis moved downstairs to the Rehabilitation Center. Since then, he has started brushing his own teeth, practiced being transferred between wheelchair and a real bed (!) and *drum roll*
......he passed his swallow test and ate his first meal in 2.5 months!!!
Travis remains determined and in good spirits. I continue to be in awe of his super human progress and positivity. The doctors called him a unicorn because considering how severe his GBS was, the incredible movement in his upper body and now some minimal leg movement is an astoundingly fast recovery.
We are starting to make plans for Travis' homecoming. My amazing parents are taking us in for a while to assist in Travis' recovery. I couldn't be more grateful! As we start to think about equipment and services Travis will need, I am eternally thankful for everyone's contributions to this campaign.
Happy New Year to all!
Travis was moved on November 30th to the Rehabilitation Trauma Center at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose. He now can move his arms and hands side to side and completed his first work out in the gym today. He exercised his arms on the "skateboard". He wasn't able to control the motorized chair with his hand yet, but might be able to soon. And today his goal is 7 hours on "minimal leak technique" (MLT). He can do some rough talking during this time.
Travis is improving more and more each day and he continues to be so positive and focused on his recovery.
Hi Lisa - no he had IVIG. If you could Facebook message me that would be great at Katie Wolford Reitter.
Is he getting plasmapheresis treatment? I had GBS and was on a vent too, please make sure he receives this treatment.
You're a wonder -- amazing!
Greetings - as a fellow GNOME user and distributor myself (I take care of it for BLFS - http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/blfs/view/systemd), I'm doing everything I can to advertise this campaign. You both deserve it, and I pray that he comes out on top of all of this.