Support the Mariant Family

$28,319 of $18,000 goal

Raised by 190 people in 8 months
Created May 28, 2017
On Friday evening Dec 4th 2015, 46-year old Michael Mariant, suffered a stroke while enjoying an anniversary dinner with his family at a restaurant in SLO. His wife, Dawn, recognized what was happening quickly and rushed him to the nearest hospital. He was transported by paramedics from French Hospital to Sierra Vista Hospital where specialists could further assess his condition. Due to his getting to the hospital quickly, he was administered the drug TPA and survived his first stroke.

Since that first incident, Michael has now suffered 8 strokes of varying intensity and resulting in deficits in functioning. In January of 2017 he spent a month in the hospital after another “big one" hit, and he is still recovering from the affects of that stoke.  He has been to over a dozen different doctors/specialists in the SLO and Santa Barabara areas and they are still unable to find a cause for the continued strokes. The next step is to go to LA or SF areas to get a more specific diagnosis at a university hospital, and potentially go to a specialized neuro-rehab clinic away from home to regain more functioning and hopefully drive again.

It has been a rough past year and a half, with Michael having to give up work with Semester at Sea and letting go of sharing his love of photography with others (for now) by closing High Sierra Workshops.

It still is a long road to recovery, so we have set up this Go Fund Me campaign to help raise money to cover some the medical expenses that have incurred, and to cover expenses for future treatments as well as unexpected expenses such as food, gas, hotel stays, medical bills, etc. and to allow Dawn and Michael to focus their attention and energy on healing.

 Michael is well respected and loved by all he meets on his travels through life.  He is a talented photographer, amazing teacher/storyteller, and one of the kindest people you ever encounter.  We know he has the strength to get through this and will do so with the continued love and support from his family, friends, and community. Please consider helping this wonderful family in their time of need.

 Thank You.
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On this day of expressing thanks, all of us - Michael, Dawn, Rachael & Riley - are filled with gratitude for all that everyone here have helped us with over the past many months. Everyone's financial contributions have literally been a lifesaver for the entire Mariant family. On on this day of Thanksgiving, we say a big thank you!

It's been a difficult and challenging month for Michael with many setbacks after a couple neuro episodes. But the good news is that insurance approved Michael going to UCLA for testing at the neuropsychology unit. We will work next week on getting appointments set up for the next step in this journey.

As we are surrounded by family on this Thanksgiving, we are extremely grateful for our larger family - YOU - that has been there for us every step in this journey.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! ❤️❤️❤️
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A postscript (P.S.) from Michael:

“I tried writing individual thank you notes to everyone who donated to our GoFundMe. I thought I could do it. I then switched to a kind of individual note with some copy and paste. But I couldn’t get to everyone.

So I just want to say here to everyone, especially to those I didn’t get to write an individual note, thank you SO MUCH for your support. Every day that we would see more support, I would cry and be overcome with emotion. (I’m a bit more emotional these days, which the doctors say is normal!)

Your support really means the world to me. It lifts me up so much. Each kind word and love you write helps me so much.

I miss the Semester at Sea family and all the support and notes just makes me miss everyone even more. I hope someday to be able to return to the ship and see everyone!

And the workshop family is so big and meaningful to me. I hope to be able to return the favor and got with everyone to Yosemite for a fun shooting safari some day!

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Delays, Frustration, and Hope ...

It has been awhile since we last gave an update, so this update is a bit lengthy. Sadly there is not any good new to share on Michael’s health. Delays in doctor referrals over the past months have left Michael and family frustrated and Michael’s sprits really down. In addition, Michael’s neurologist explained what possibly is causing Michael’s repeated stroke-like events.

The neurologist had made a push for continued testing and hopeful treatment at UC San Francisco Medical Center as their neurological research unit specialized in these mystery types of cognitive deficits. The preference was for UCSF with UCLA as a backup if UCSF didn’t accept Michael. This original plan was started back in May, when we began this GoFundMe, in hopes that Michael and Dawn would be at UCSF/UCLA throughout the summer and free of day-to-day concerns, and then back OK in time for Dawn to return to work.

Well, it took some time for UCSF to accept Michael’s case (which we shared last time) but then the process dragged in getting his primary physician to approve and submit the referral request.

As summer came to a close, Dawn had to return to work, now as a full-time 4th/5th grade teacher. During this time, Michael had another stroke-like event in July that had him in the hospital for several days, and then another smaller event in September, both leaving him with greater deficits. Michael still is unable to return to any of the work he loved doing.

The referral to UCSF from his primary physician was finally submitted to insurance for approval at the end of September only to have insurance DENY the request! Needless to say, Michael was frustrated, his spirits were down and feeling like this wouldn’t end.

Back to the neurologist where he said the push would now be for UCLA, but where he was uncertain if they had the proper testing or research for what he suspected was going on. When pressed, he revealed that it is possible that Michael has a degenerative brain disease, one that has stroke-like symptoms with the degenerative cognitive and memory issues Michael is having.

This news was very unsettling, sad and difficult for Michael and family to accept. Day to day hope and optimism is difficult to sustain, but necessary. But this news is also just a possibility. The neurologist did research all the of the places around the world that Michael had traveled to see if a rare brain disease could be at fault. But the testing methods are limited here in our area, hence his push to UCSF where this testing is done.

So now we wait for UCLA to accept Michael, then back to getting his primary physician to do the referral, and we hope to get insurance approval this time. When will this happen? Hopefully sooner than later, as the frequency of the stroke-like events are increasing as the cognitive losses also increase.

Michael still isn’t able to drive, but is extremely grateful for friends and Dawn’s family to help with transportation to doctor appointments and therapy. While Michael still struggles with walking and balance in some conditions, there have been some improvements through his therapy, which as been very uplifting! The improvements are a beacon of hope for Michael in what has felt like a downhill slide with each stroke-like event. Dawn says Michael still has his sense of humor and he is thankful that he can still write, though it is a slower process for him than in the past. So his Facebook posts will still keep coming!

Please keep Michael, Dawn, Rachael & Riley in your thoughts as they continue to move forward day-to-day. Michael’s hope is that UCLA can provide the solution to what is going on, so that they can all get back to some stability in life, and Michael can get back to doing the work he loves: taking people in to the outdoors to teach photography. It is still a long journey to get to that point, with lots of uncertainty ahead, but they are still hopeful.

Thank you for your continued support, kinds words and thoughts & prayers! It is so much appreciated and warmly welcome during these struggles!!!

With much love,
The Mariant Family
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Everyone has been amazing in showing support! We have been spending this first month of summer trying to get things moving faster. It has been frustrating, but after many hours on the phone and in person with various doctors we are on track to head up to UCSF! Your support has allowed me to spend my time dealing with our medical system to make things move, and focus on Michael.

Michael saw a neurologist last week who can't walk away from a mystery to solve! He thinks that what is happening with Michael is not likely a stroke and pursuing the possibility of a migraine. But he also says neither diagnosis fits. He is working on getting us to UCSF to run some tests that he cant do here, see if they can figure it out.

He is also going to see a hemotologist about some abnormal results that came back from some blood test. The tests are rarely run, and need a specialist to interpret.

This Monday, Michael had another "brain event". This time he did not have total paralysis of the left side, but he did have weakness on both sides and spent 3 days in the hospital. He was unable to understand words and respond when I brought him to the hospital. He came home yesterday, and he is nearly back to his version of normal. He is still sensitive to stimulus and gets overwhelmed when too much is going on in his environment. Michael has been given Nortriptyline to see if these "brain events" are reduced in case these are some kind of migraine.

While in the hospital, the neurologist took the opportunity to run many tests on Michael. Everything came back clear, once again. But Michael obviously has lasting cognitive deficits, and no one knows why. It was discouraging to hear that once again, but hopefully this will get him to UCSF faster to run some tests. We feel like he is making some progress towards learning to function with his new normal, then another "stroke" or "migraine" hits. We are keeping positive, and know that with time we will find ways to manage what is happening even if we end up not finding answers.

Michael was always the one who stayed in touch with everyone through facebook, etc, but I will do my best to update regularly. Even if it is only once a month!
All your loving, healing thoughts and prayers are helping Michael and our family through this very challenging time.

Healing and Love,
The Mariants
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$28,319 of $18,000 goal

Raised by 190 people in 8 months
Created May 28, 2017
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