Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blessed Palm Sunday, Happy Birthday Katherine & Update

Hello To All our Family & Friends,

First we would like to wish everyone a blessed Palm Sunday. For Christians we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem as we enter the week of his death and resurrection. Palm Sunday or "Passion Sunday" marks the beginning of Holy week culminating on Easter Sunday.

The bible tells us that when Jesus entered Jerusalem, he was greeted with palm branches that they waved in front of him and also covered his path. Immediately following this celebration, Jesus begins his journey to the cross.

Here in Mexico, Palm Sunday is called Domingo de Ramos. As Mexico is predominantly Catholic, many processions and celebrations are held during Holy week or Semana Santa up until Easter Sunday or Pascua.

Today I would also like to wish my daughter Katherine a very Happy 20th Birthday! I can't believe that I now have two daughters that are in their 20's! I am getting old. Dearest Katherine, may you have a special day today and may you always know how very much you are loved! When you were born you weighed in at 9 lbs.1 oz.! I remember that for the first months of your life you seemed to be always crying --- you were very colicky --- But -- then, at the age of 9 months you woke up one morning - with the most tremendous smile :) -- and the crying stopped. From that day forward the one most notable feature about you (besides your beauty) that everyone comments on is your "infectious smile". When you smile you light up the room and everyone else smiles along with you!

So Katherine, my wish for you today, on your birthday, is to keep smiling that beautiful smile and to always know that you are so very loved!!!

Jessica is doing well. Although she has her daily challenges, mainly dealing with movement problems in her right foot and GI dysfunction, we ask for prayers that these issues resolve so that she can maintain her weight and nutritional status without further testing or intervention. She continues to face each day with grace beyond our own understanding and with strength that only comes from the One and only Jesus! When I think back at last year during this time, and being in the hospital all those months, you sometimes do have to remember where you have been to realize how very far you have indeed come! During this Easter season we reflect on how truly blessed we are and how thankful we are for the sacrifice that was made for us!

Thank you also for your prayers for David. He had successful surgery to repair 3 hernias and was hospitalized for 2 weeks. He is now home recuperating with the help of my daughter Michelle, who has shown us how very mature a 14 year old can be! Thank you also to his nurse Jackie and to all those who helped with meals, rides, etc. during this time. He couldn't have done it without you all!

With Palm Sunday blessings to all,
Sarah Gina
(Mom to 3)

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Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Katherine! Hope you have a wonderful birthday.

We are so happy to hear all the wonderful updates. We thank God David's surgery went well.

Wow, Jessica, you have sure come a very long way. Your progress is phenomenal! What a huge encouragement to so many. We have been truly blessed to witness God working in your life.

May He continue to bless you and your family.

With love and prayers
The Turners

Michelle said...

Happy Birthday Katherine! I hope you had a great birthday yesterday you are a great sister! I Love You! Love Michelle.

Rosemary and John said...

To The Amazing Stevens Family,

During this Holy Week, we are reminded of how Jesus bore his cross for mankind. We are reminded of how He suffered and died for our salvation and how He rose from the dead, as He had promised to do.

It is said that God only gives you what you can bear. The cross you have each carried for so many years weighs more than any earthly human should ever have to bear. Individually and collectively, you have carried a heavy cross on your shoulders and have done so with amazing Grace. You continue to inspire each person who meets you and restore hope for those who had succumbed to the weight of their own cross. The Lord is working through each one of you and we are among those whom you have touched.

May God continue to bless and heal you as we pray that He brings you together once again in the flesh.

With much love and our daily thoughts and prayers,

Rosemary and John

Jessica's Journey to Getting Her Life Back

By Sarah Gina (Jessica's Mom)

As we begin this journey toward renewed health we would like to express our sincere heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Dr. Anthony Kirkpatrick and all the work he has done and continues to do in order to bring patients like my daughter Jessica back to a more meaningful life and restored from this devastating illness. Also, special thanks to Dr. Fernando Cantu and his team of doctors in Mexico for taking on a difficult case like my daughters, Words cannot express the renewed sense of hope that we have that one day, our Jessica, can regain her life that has been taken away from her – God Bless you all!

Jessica’s Story

Once an A+ student who loved school, was involved in many extracurricular activities, played varsity tennis, lacrosse and gymnastics and enjoyed spending time with her family and friends, our daughter Jessica has spent the last 3 years incapacitated, paralyzed, unable to sit or walk and eat. She spends her days confined to a hospital bed, wearing sunglasses and noise-canceling headphones, due to severe light and sound sensitivity.

Jessica and her sisters, 2 mos. before becoming ill

The pain she feels is indescribable and all attempted treatments have not even come close to relieving her suffering.

She has seen many doctors, undergone numerous painful tests and procedures, has been prescribed various medications, and has been hospitalized frequently including being intubated and on a ventilator. She is severely debilitated and currently is only 92 pounds. This is certainly no life for a 21 year old young woman!

Jessica is suffering from neurologic Lyme disease and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), a severely debilitating and painful neuromuscular disorder. She suffers daily with constant sharp, stabbing, tingling and burning pain; throughout her body; severe headaches; paralysis; intense muscle spasms; gastroparesis; seizures; twisting of her limbs (dystonia); sensitivity to any touch (allodynia); extreme sensitivity to lights and sounds; excessive sweating; swelling; fevers; softening of bones; decreased hair growth; redness and discoloration of the limbs; and painful skin ulcers. The pain is constant and unrelenting, but despite her suffering, her faith in God remains and she still has hope for her future.

Jessica's painful skin lesions

Jessica's journey began in 1999, when she was only 11 years old. She became very ill with Mono and was bed bound for 3 months. She subsequently developed RSD (stage 1) of the lower right leg. She received early intervention and returned to playing sports and enjoying her life.

Jessica, age 15, at summer camp

Four years later, in 2003, while away at a sleep-away camp, she developed a rash behind her right knee, coincidentally in the same leg that previously had RSD!

At the time, the camps nurse & doctor told her that it was “duck rash” – a rash from swimming in the lake with duck feces. However, Jessica was able to obtain photos from camp from another camper which shows the classic “bulls-eye” rash from Lyme disease! It wasn’t until much later and only after developing symptoms and becoming very ill, was the diagnosis of Lyme disease and Babesiosis (another tick-borne infection) made.

Most people (and doctors!) have no idea how serious Lyme disease can become and no clue how to properly diagnose it. Unfortunately, if she would have been promptly diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease, the RSD would not have been triggered and she would not be suffering.

July 2003, Jessica's Lyme disease rash

If it wasn’t for her doctor, Dr. Liegner, and his expertise with complex cases of Lyme, and his determination to try any means in getting her well, by getting a “team” of doctors on her case, we wouldn’t be here today, still fighting. We owe him a deep sense of gratitude for all he does for Jessica!

During these past three years and with the pain becoming more intense and unbearable she has been seeing Dr. Finkelstein for pain management. He has even made house calls to spare her the pain of coming by ambulance to his office. Jessica has been treated with multiple pain medications, at the highest possible doses, as well as an implanted dilaudid pain pump, which delivers potent medication straight into her spine. Many doctors have told us that with the amount of medications Jessica was taking would be enough to “kill a horse”—yet they had little to no effect on her. If it wasn’t for Dr. Finkelstein trying to alleviate her constant, severe, unrelenting pain, I don’t know how she would have managed. He is very special to us as well.

Recently Jessica was transported by air ambulance to Tampa, Florida to see Dr. Anthony Kirkpatrick, a world renowned RSD expert. Dr. Kirkpatrick told us that Jessica is one of the most debilitated patients he has ever seen.

Jessica getting into the air-ambulance to go see Dr. Kirkpatrick

Upon his testing and because Jessica's condition is so severe, Dr. Kirkpatrick is recommending the only treatment available that can possibly help relieve her suffering, and afford her some semblance of a “normal” life - the Ketamine Coma Procedure - a clinical trial that is being conducted in Monterrey, Mexico.

During this procedure Jessica will be put into a coma , with the hope that her nerves, brain and spinal cord will “reset” -so that her nervous system sends the correct signals to her brain.

Yes, this is a radical, scary treatment, however, for Jessica, "scary" is thinking that she could spend the rest of her life in this condition, unable to walk, eat, or take care of herself. Since all reasonable treatments have failed to help her, we feel we must try everything possible to help Jessica regain her life.

We understand that due to Jessica’s fragile condition, there is a high risk associated with this procedure. We are also aware that other patients with severe RSD like Jessica's have had success.

Jessica’s goal is to one day become a doctor. Our hope is that with this study she can have that chance. As her Mom, I know that she will be a great doctor because when a patient presents in her office and says “Doctor, I am in pain and words cannot express how bad it is” – my daughter –Dr. Jessica– will be able to say - :I know how you feel, I’ve been there too. So, take a seat and let me tell you a story”….

We are so thankful and feel so blessed to have been led to Dr. Kirkpatrick.

God is good and with his help guiding Dr. Cantu and Dr. Kirkpatrick, our hope is for Jessica to be able to return to us whole again and pain-free!