Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Sisters Story...

~Update as of March 2014...Finally, FINALLY!  My sister got health insurance and in January went to Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota.  They did test after test and concluded she needed surgery.  They wanted to do a temporal lobectomy to remove the portion of her brain that was having seizure activity.  On February 6th, we all held our breath and said our prayers as she under went the surgery.  She did great.  Came home earlier than expected.  She is now home and begins the long process of healing, physically and mentally.  We have waited years for this, yet her work is still just beginning.  We are trying to find patience as we navigate this new world or healing and therapy in hopes Kori makes a quick recovery.  We won't know the success of the surgery for many, many months.  To see if it was all worth it and she is in fact seizure free.  Thank you for the continued support and prayers.  

~Update as of September 2013...This summer Kori did get to go to another hospital for some further testing.  They confirmed that she was having seizures and what side of her brain they were coming from.  It was a very expensive test to confirm what they pretty much knew.  The doctors are suggesting surgery to remove the portion of her brain they believe is causing the seizures.  Because of her lack of health insurance getting to a hospital to actually do this type of surgery is not possible at this time.  They are waiting to decide their next moves.  Trying to regulate her seizures with medicne, but they continue on a daily basis.  We continue to "wait and see" and hope she can eventually get to a bigger, more specialized hospital.  Find answers and give her hope that her life can return to normal one day.  

~Update as of January 2013...Since I first posted this in June things have changed and yet stayed the same with Kori.  She spent the summer fighting the infection with massive antibiotics.  By the end of the summer she was supposedly infection free and dealing with brain swelling that could take awhile to heal.  Through out the Fall she did a lot of "wait and see"  but not getting better.  There were a few more trips to the ER for weird things, but no one answering why they were happening.  Finally this last month she went to a new neurologist for another opinion.  He confirmed that all the "waiting and seeing" was a waste of time as NOTHING had improved and he had no idea why.  Now, we are back at the scary place of NOT knowing what is going on in her brain.  They have suggested she go to a bigger hospital and we are hopeful this will happen soon.  Because the battle continues so do the medical and living expenses they are facing.  I will continue to update this page as we know more.  Thank you for reading her story, maybe passing it on or helping out in some way.  The kindness of those around us and from total strangers has been truly amazing. ***


In the last month, I've talked a lot about my sister and her health issues.  Now, I am telling her full story.  From my perspective.

Mother's Day this year was the last time I remember everything being "normal"  We spent the afternoon with my parents and my sister and her family at soccer games and then headed over for pizza and beer to celebrate Mother's Day.  After that we all went our own ways and all was well until a few days later when my mom called and said my sister, Kori, wasn't feeling well and her husband, Dave, was taking her to the hospital to get her checked.  At this point, I still was not worried...thinking it was probably no big deal.  Later we came to find they thought she had meningitis.  After a quick google search I found this could be either a somewhat minor illness, much like a bad flu, or really bad with a 25% mortality rate.  My family spent the week in and out of the hospital visiting, as she made her recovery.  During those days I had concerns for how sick she was, but felt that she was going to be okay and that in time she would turn the corner.  As we thought, a few days later she was able to come home to start her recovery there.  Things felt like they were going back to the way they were and the whole family even got together for a bar-b-q to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend.  We all left that Saturday night in good spirits, way past kids bedtime, feeling happy that my sister had gotten over this illness.  Oh, how wrong we were.  We hadn't even begun.

The next night I had just settled into a movie night with popcorn on the couch with my girls when I got a phone call from my mom.  Having already talked to her earlier in the day I ignored her call.  I did listen to the voicemail and my stomach dropped as I heard her frantic voice saying that my niece, Jaelyn had called and said the paramedics were on their way to their house for their mom.  I hung up the phone, grabbed my keys and was at their house just in time to see them shutting the ambulance door with my sister in it.  I rushed inside to find Dave and asked what had happened.  With a look of shock and tears in his eyes he told me Kori had started feeling really sick and then had two seizures so he called 911.  None of us will ever know what it was like to have to see someone you love going through something like that and I hope to never find out.  He left to follow the ambulance to the ER, I gathered up my frightened nieces and nephew and took them to my house before heading up to the ER as well.  That night will go down as one of the worst nights of my life.  By the time I got there they already had her intubated and had paralyzed to stop the seizures.  We all waited while they prepped her for a MRI to see what in the world was going on.  The look of worry in my Dad and Dave's eyes, the men that weren't supposed to get scared, was enough to let me know that this was some scary stuff happening.  I have never prayed harder or felt closer to losing someone in all my life.  We found out there were several abscesses in her brain that were infected and they were going to see if they could get her to a bigger hospital where they could cut into her brain, remove some of the pus from the infection to determine what was causing it.  We said our good byes, hoping she could somehow hear them, and watched the helicopter lift her away, all alone, to a bigger hospital.  Her husband was hot on their tail to be with her, while the rest of us tried to go home and get some rest to head up the next day.  Of course that night no one slept and we all might as well did as my little sister did and just drive through the night to get there with her.  The next morning, Kori went into brain surgery and after three hours of worry came out of it well and desperately trying to communicate with all of us.  Unfortunately, she still had a tube down her throat and could only write what she was trying to say.  She was scared.  She was totally freaked out about where she was, what was going on and how almost 24 hours of her life had passed and she didn't remember any of it.  We all tried to calm her nerves, explain everything that was going on and reassure her.  We also tried to convince her that the work she was worried about getting done for the end of the school year (Kori is a pre-school teacher at our local Head Start), would be handled by someone else.  We were all so relieved to see that Kori was still in there.  The rest of the week she spent fighting to regain her health so she could make it back for her sons graduation.  And, sure enough...she made it back and watched Steve graduate.
Kori with her oldest son, Steve

All was well again this following week and it seemed we were back on the road to recovery.  However, this nasty bacteria psuedonomas had other ideas.  Sudden head pain a few days later sent her back up to the ER and the next day what was supposed to be a routine check up had her on yet another airplane ride to an even bigger hospital due to swelling of the brain.  How disheartening it was for them and all of us to hear about this step back in her recovery.  I felt myself go back to that dark place of wondering "is she going to survive this?"  After some steroid treatment for the swelling in her brain and a change of medication, she was on the road to recovery again and back home.  And the roller coaster ride continued.

Now home, she is on an intense antibiotic treatment to find this infection.  Unfortunately it is not as simple as taking antibiotics for a sinus or ear infection.  The medicine has to be taken three times a day, intravenously and each time takes almost two hours.  This medicine is so aggressive to fight it that they have to constantly worry about possibility of more seizures and brain swelling.  This on top of the fact that it makes her nauseous, fatigued and emotional.  But, her spirits are high and she will fight this to the end.  Because she has too.  Not only for herself, but for her family.
Steve, Kori, Greg and Dave...all shaved heads in solidarity!


For the six children that are counting on her to survive it.
Kori, Dave and the 6-pack



For her husband.


He has been her rock through all of this and gone through so much that I can't even begin to imagine or try to describe how this has been for him.
For everyone else...Parents...
Kori, her parents and sisters 
Kori and Dave with Dave's parents



Sisters...


Nieces & nephews...
Kori and Ava..(1 of her 7 nieces and nephews)


And friends and co-workers who love her and can't bear to imagine a life without her.  So, she will survive it, because she has to.

The other unfortunate side to all of this, now that some of the worry is gone is the financial side.  Like so many people in this country Kori has no health insurance.  As you can imagine the medical costs for all of this are enough for them to buy a nice ocean side property.  One of the helicopter rides alone costs as much as a new car.  To give a little background on their family...they own a small local business that Dave runs and as I said before, Kori works as a preschool teacher.  Something she finds very rewarding.  On top of their busy work lives, they have six children between the two of them.  Dave brought two boys into the marriage, Kori a son and daughter and together they had another son and daughter to complete the "six-pack" as we call them.  Both are very involved in their children's activities with Kori volunteering as a Girl Scout leader & with Junior Achievement and Dave as a soccer coach.  With volunteering, jobs, a business and six kids, I find myself often thinking "I don't know how she does it"  But, they do it all and love it.  They are the all American, blended family, making it work on a modest income.  This is where all of you come in.  In some small effort to help, our family is trying to fund raise to ease some of the costs for them.  Through this entire ordeal we have been amazed and touched by the outpouring of support for my sister and her family.  People bringing food, starting prayer chains, checking in, flowers, cards...so much beautiful kindness.  Now, I am asking for a little more generosity...anything you can give to help with the astronomical amount of expenses that are coming their way.  We have set up an account for donations to be made in any amount.  Here is how you can donate:

1.  There is a benefit account set up at First Interstate Bank.  The account name is "Hope, Love & Funds for Kori"  To make a deposit you can drop it off to any First Interstate branch location or mail it to the bank:
First Interstate Bank
202 West Main St
P.O. Box 6370
Bozeman, MT 59771
Just reference the account name and the bank will get it in the right account
2.  If you prefer to mail directly to myself or Kori, just message me and I'll get you the correct address.  Any donations made this way will go directly into the same benefit account.  (Checks made out to Hope, Love & Funds for Kori)
*Please keep in mind that because you are donating to an individual not a charity, all donations are not tax-deductible*


Thank you for reading this story, and please feel free to pass it on.  I believe so strongly in the kindness of people and it has come shining through this ordeal.  Kori's hopes are to overcome all of this and then turn around and give back as so many have given to her.  That's just the way she thinks...always trying to pay it forward
Kori and her youngest, Kim



4 comments:

  1. WHAT AN INSPIRATION! Thank you for sharing your story...

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  2. Wow... insomnia led me to finally reading this post and I'm so sorry for all that Kori and her family and yours have had to endure the last few months! A roller coaster for sure! I'll be thinking of you all and sending prayers that everything is resolved and treated and Kori feels well again. :( Hugs!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Amy!! I'm sorry you had insomnia, but glad you got to read her story. We appreciate all the thoughts and prayers!!

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  3. Dear Angie,

    That is a very touching story about your sister's story. We are going to help and try to get your sister some more finacial help. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

    Take Care,

    Kade and the rest of Coldwell Banker RCI Realty

    ReplyDelete