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Tobey's Medical Emergency

$32,108 of $55,000 goal

Raised by 175 people in 11 months
This picture was taken on May 12, 2018 at the wedding of Loren and Joel which I was delighted to officiate. Five days later, I checked into the ER with what turned out to be a massive pelvic infection. I underwent exploratory surgery, and, in the process, they performed a hysterectomy, colostomy and a nephrostomy. To be honest, I am lucky to be alive (one of my surgeons remarked he was very glad they hadn’t waited even one more day).

I am still in the hospital, recovering in extended care and hopefully, I will go home on Friday, June 29th. This life-changing event has had a huge impact on Mark and me. We have the hope/expectation that the colostomy and nephrostomy can be reversed in the next year. In the meantime, this has been very financially disruptive for us, despite good insurance coverage.

I am unlikely to be able to resume my full-time self-employment for the remainder of 2018. So we are turning to our beloved community for financial help. We appreciate any practical assistance you can offer, as well as the numerous prayers, love, and healing thoughts with which so many of you have bolstered our spirits.

Please donate if you can, please share, and feel free to contact us with other arrangements if online donations don’t work for you.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We couldn’t do this without you; the next six months will be critical.

xoxo, Tobey and Mark
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Here is a first ever video report, offering an update and a chance to see with your own eyes how I am doing. I also offer a forecast that it will be another year, more or less, before I am truly fit as a fiddle again. I do need more surgery, and I explain that in the video. I promise I'll get better at these!! XO, Tobey
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Dear ones,

Tobey is sleeping. While more conscious than last night, she is having some short term memory problems because of the anesthesia - so she is repeating some questions about her surgery and the prognosis. I imagine this will pass in a couple of days.

I wanted to tell you a bit more about Tobey's surgeries. I didn't share everything because she didn't know all the facts until this morning. The nephrostomy was taken down, and the urologist did not need to do an auto-transplant (which would have involved moving her left kidney to the right side). He was/is very pleased with the results.

The colorectal portion was much more difficult, and the main reason why she was on the table for over ten hours. There was a lot of scar tissue from her emergency surgery last year, and this had to be removed. There wasn't much colon or rectum to re-attach, and he was concerned that leaving it as it was might have been a recipe for failure.

His solution was an ileostomy. Rather than using the colon, this is an ostomy involving the small intestine. This will let the colon heal and grow strong. So, unfortunately, Tobey has to wear a different ostomy bag - but this one is only temporary. If all goes well, her surgeon feels she will be completely healed within three to four months. Then he will take down the ileostomy and she will be "bag free." Of course, this will involve another trip to L.A. and a hotel stay.

So, I would ask that you continue your prayers and healing energy after we are home. I am praying that by June we can close this chapter and move on!

Thank you again for all the love - I have not been able to reply to all of you individually, but will try in the days ahead. Her surgeon thinks she might be able to go home inside of a week - that would be wonderful!

Much love, Mark
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Dear Ones,

This is it - in one week exactly, I will be on the table at UCLA with surgeons extraordinaires, Dr Arnold Chin and Dr. Kevork Kazanjian, both of whom have excellent reputations as surgeons and teachers. It will probably take about 5-7 hours, but nothing can be predicted for sure. This is exploratory surgery; they are not 100% sure what their exact choices will be until they see what they have to work with. But they have a pretty good idea just the same.

I will be a new me, sort of like Locke's socks for all you philosophy fans, except it is all me, just significantly rearranged. (Don’t know what Locke’s socks are? See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus#History)

Not only have the donations been such a lifeline for us at this time, but I have also been showered with love, kindness, and body treatments by so many of you near and far, as well as by wonderfully gifted healer friends in this area, with promises of even more sessions to come! I am so blessed by these beautiful and devoted friendships, and the many precious persons who are a part of our beloved community. I am super grateful that all this is here for me. The outpouring of love has really been amazing and very healing for me. So thank you for adding to this vast collective ocean of beautiful love with all the many waves of love that you send me.

The surgeons will be re-opening the big ten inch scar that runs from my navel to the pubic line. Using material they will take from my intestines, they will reconstruct connections between my left kidney and bladder, while also 'taking down' the colostomy - more complex than usual in my particular case, on both counts. So please do send prayers, Reiki, love and positive thoughts our way on Weds morning. It will take around 5 - 7 hours, depending on what they find. I should be in the hospital 5-7 days, and then back in Morro Bay with at least 4 months of healing and recovery in front of me.

Thank you again, for all you do, seen and unseen. I love all the little care packages, love notes and cards - thank you so so much. I am feeling very well loved and supported by all of you, my extended beloved communities.

I am ready.

Xo, Tobey

PS: The photo is with my lovely cousin Lisa Dietrich, taken just a few days ago here in Morro Bay
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Around the Sun 3/8 and Back to Surgery 3/28

Friday is International Women's Day, and also my 58th birthday. This past year has been a real doozy, and I am ready to put it behind me. It is an exciting and challenging time to be alive, a state of being that I no longer take for granted.

At the end of March, I will have my reconstructive surgery. A lot of you have asked what that means. The surgeons are using my own intestinal tissue to recreate waste processing connections that got lost in my emergency surgery last May. Once this new surgery is complete, I will no longer have any ostomy bags and will feel very much as though I have gotten my body back. I can't begin to express how much I am looking forward to this.

Getting here has not been easy. I have spoken with a couple of very dear friends, including my beloved Mark, and they have encouraged me to be candid. I appear to be doing really well with everything, and am even quite functional. But the truth is that I am suffering in a big way. I have debilitating depression caused by my physiological response to the tremendous stress that this emergency has created. It's understandable, but that doesn't make it any easier to bear.

I have also been in a great deal of pain which for me is really unusual, for as we now know, I have a dangerously high pain tolerance. I should have been able to tell that I was so sick last year, but I did not feel the pain until it was almost too late. So when I tell you now that the pain is quite severe, you know it has to be pretty much off the charts. This also adds to my depression.

Finally, I am very afraid of the upcoming surgery. Pretty much terrified. This is also understandable, and yet because fear is highly irrational, I have not succeeded in talking myself out of it. It does not bow to logic. My therapist is very proud of me, but the truth is that I am still feeling exceedingly vulnerable. They say that sharing grief and asking for help are two of the hardest things to do. I know I find it very hard.

All that said, and while we have been stunned by everyone's generosity, we are still about 8K short on the Go Fund Me campaign, and I am particularly worried about how we will get through the last five months (we hope it's just five) of this health journey. We need funds to cover the hotel bill for Mark while I am in the hospital, and to meet several months of rent until I can pick up the slack again. I will not be able to work full time again until August. I do have big plans, with new classes and an eco-activism project I am excited about, but I have to be patient.

I do have absolute faith that I will get through this and back to radiant health later this year. In the meantime, we can only put one foot in front of the other, stay present, and focus on my recovery. My friend advised me not to assume that everyone has done what they can; it's not my decision to make, she said. Perhaps there is still more my friends and family can offer, given the chance to do so. So I leave it to you. This might just be one of the hardest moments of my life, which, if you have known me for a while, you know is really saying something.

Please do not feel pressured to do more than is comfortable for you. Know that we appreciate all the many kindnesses, massages, Reiki, prayers, conversations, food and treats, and all the ways besides money in which people have been so gracious and lovely. And yes, donations are really great too! LOL.

In closing, let me leave you with this cute video of rabbits eating dandelions and frolicking about together. As Maya Angelou says, what we really remember about people is the way they make us feel. So despite the sadness of my personal situation, please do remember that there's lots to be joyful about, and if you need encouragement, let me suggest that you check into my Facebook group, Yes to Positive Social Change Now, which I curate in order to stem the tide of negativity and hopelessness that pervades our modern culture. There are plenty of individual heroes out there, making a difference as much as they can. I bet one of them is reading this email right now.

With all my love, Tobey
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Raised by 175 people in 11 months
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