Monday, December 19, 2011

I AM HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!

Good morning everyone!! This is my first blog from HOME!!!! I am super tired, but SO happy!!

I thought I would share with everyone the update that I sent to Dr. Cantu last night... it tells the whole story :)

Hola Dr. Green Shirt!!!

I am writing to you right now from HOME!!!! We just got home from the airport and right now I am laying in my own bed, in my own house, in my beautiful new bedroom, surrounded by family... It’s unreal.

They are all just staring at me, smiling and crying... looking at me as if I am this brand new masterpiece that was just put on display in a museum. Nobody is sure if they should touch it, or what to even say about it... they are just completely amazed at the "new Jessica" that has been returned home to them!! ...A Jessica who can now move around, sit up, talk, laugh, be hugged, held, touched, kissed (maybe too much!!) loved and EAT with them!! It's beyond belief. I think you would be very jealous of the amazing feast my Italian grandmother cooked for us today! :)

We started our day at 3 AM yesterday leaving our apartment in Mexico and heading to the airport for our 6 AM flight. Cindel slept over with her mom Claudia so they could drive us.

On the flight from Monterrey to Atlanta I was able to watch the sunrise! It was incredible!!

The flights themselves went pretty well and I held up better than I expected! The staff and everyone at Delta went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and more at ease.

Every time the flight got bumpy, or I was feeling anxious, or nauseous, I just looked at my favorite picture—the one of you and Patch Adams and it immediately made me smile and feel better.

The Mexican security check went fine-- they read your doctors letter and didn't touch me at all. On the USA side though, they took me into a private room and wanted to "gently" touch me everywhere and swab both me and my wheelchair for "further" inspection.

It was time consuming, but everyone was really nice and so excited and happy for me when I told them my story and how I was traveling home for the first time!

Me with Nikki

I think the part of the trip that caused the most discomfort was having to be transferred into this small “aisle” wheelchair to get in and out of the plane. Definitely not comfortable at all.... and I am pretty small, I can't imagine how anyone larger than me could even get on one of these things!!

On the plane rides my mom (obviously) told EVERYBODY (cleaning crew, flight attendants, pilots, whoever!) the whole story about my miracle in Mexico.

Mom and I

We also introduced everyone to "Nino Luigi "Patch" Cantu"-- my bear, who has never left my side for the past 2.5 years! :)

All of the pilots came over and sat down with me, congratulated me, wished me well and took pictures with me too!

This is me with the two pilots from flight 4988, David and Jon

Me with Rob, Otis, Dena and Tony on flight 1430

My mom somehow even managed to get herself invited up into the cockpit, with the pilots, to fly the plane! (Now, THAT is a scary thought!)

Captain Sarita

As I was wheeled out of the terminal I could already see the signs and hear people screaming my name!!

I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest! Finally, seeing my family again and their excitement over seeing me -healed-was just the greatest Christmas gift I have ever had in my life.

The three Stevens girls-- back together again!!!

My daughter (dog) Molly was at the airport waiting for me dressed in cute pink ballerina dress. I was so worried that she wouldn’t remember me, but she did! She ran over to me, jumped on top of me, kissed me and fell asleep in my arms!

There are really no words to describe today, except perfect.

Your ears must have been ringing because as we sat around re-uniting, all we could talk about was you! My uncles wore green shirts (my godfather even wore green pants!) in honor of you!

We had a professional videographer at the airport to capture this moment for our family and at the end of the tape he went around and had everyone say a special message and wave “hola” to you in Mexico!

I am extremely exhausted and I know I am running on pure adrenaline right now. I will probably crash for the next few days, but I wanted you to have these photos tonight, so that you can feel like you were here with me, because to me, you were. The reality is, for the rest of my life, every new or happy moment that I am ever blessed to get to experience, you always will be a big part of it because you gave me this chance to have a new life!

Seeing my Florida home for the first time in 5.5 years!!!

So, just know that tonight, because of you, the Stevens' family is sleeping under the same roof for the first time in 2.5 years!!!

Goodnight, Dr. Green Shirt, Thank you for saving my life. I love you…

.....Actually, WE ALL love you!

Te extra├▒o mucho!



Your #1 Patient

"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."- 1 Corinthians 13:7

*To Post a Comment click on Comments below*


Anonymous said...

WOW! Well done you! God bless you abundantly Jessica and thank you for being a great encourager to so many. So incredibly excited that yesterday brought you back to U.S. soil and that you are finally home!!! Praise God.

I hope you are taking the time to take care of yourself.

:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)!!!

Can't wait to hear more soon!

Anonymous said...

Jess, I am so glad the trip went so well for you (the opposite then for us) We were thinking of you. It is excellent seeing you smiling and enjoying your warm welcome at home. It has been a miracle.
Make sure you get some rest.
Love you, friends forever....

cindel. said...

I am so so happy you're finally home with your family, the greatest gift ever!
Just remember you'll always have your mexican family here forever, meeting you was one of the greatest gifts we could ever get, I'm so glad we get to share with you this amazing journey.
I love you so much sister! :)

Fern said...

Jessica, my heart was bursting with the good news of your arrival home! Way to make it in to an event to remember always!
We love you too.
I am so happy that you could be home again and one day you will come visit me, right?

Anonymous said...

Dearest Jessica and Gina, OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!!!!!!! I'm so happy for you that this day has finally come!!!!! I thank God who has made this miracle that your special family will all be together on Christmas!!! The pictures of you sitting up on the plane with sparkling eyes and beautiful smile brought tears to my eyes. I am just so thrilled and thankful that you are feeling better and you and your amazing mom are HOME!!!!! (Hi Gina!!) Merry Christmas to all the Stevenses!!! You are always in my prayers and my thoughts... Love always, Angel xoxoxoxoxoxo

Anonymous said...

Awww how amazing .. I hope you all have such an amazing Christmas together !!!

Anonymous said...

I am so happy to hear you are home. What a wonderful Christmas present, 2012 will be a great year for the Stevens family. I am so happy for you..

Anonymous said...

Oh finally!!!!! God really does answer prayers :) :) I am sooooo happy that you can make it home in time for Christmas. What a great Christmas present!!!

Rosemary and John said...

Dear Jessica (and Sarah)

Welcome Home! Words we have only said to you in our dreams! This is by far the BEST blog thus far!

It is a true miracle that you are home and healthy with your family again and eating and wheeling yourself around in a wheelchair and did I say eating? Ha,ha, timed it right girl! You knew your Nanny would be baking up a storm this time of year!

This "chapter" of the book will be the one that blows people's minds when they read your story. You have overcome so many trials and tribulations; endured horrific pain and undergone many procedures and you faced fear in the face many times for someone of your age. But, you have emerged victorious in this battle thanks to the Grace of God, the wisdom and compassion of your medical team, esp. Dr. Cantu and of course, where would you be without your one in a billion Mama? God blessed you with an amazing family Jessica. He somehow knew you were in need of such love and support.

It has been our honor to join those who love you and support you in this journey to regain your health.

Papa and John and all the family send love and kisses and congratulations to all of you. We are so happy for your Father and sisters and Nanny and Aunts and Uncles and all of those who were there to welcome home the new and always beautiful Jessica (and her Mom)!

Love and Hugs,

Rosemary and John and Papa, et. al...

Anonymous said...

Jessica.... Wow.... Welcome home!!! Im so happy to have met you and your mom yesterday on your fight home. You and your family are simply amazing! Tony and I were thinking of you today and wondering how your first day at home was going. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I hope you continue to heal and feel stronger every day!
Dena-the flight attendant

Anonymous said...

I wrote a paper on the ketamine coma and how it is a revolution in public health. I came across your blog and it put me to tears. What you've gone through is indescribable. I am so happy you have your health back and that you are finally home! When things go wrong in life many people remain in despair about it, but you never lost your hope and this makes you a true role model to anyone. Your story has really touched my heart. I know many good things will be happening for you now. I also believe you will be able to make a difference in the world now that you have your future back. God bless.

"Lord you said that once I decided to follow you we would walk side by side through life but when I needed you most I saw only one set of footprints in the sand. The Lord replied, I love you and would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."

Anonymous said...

Jessica, Sarah and Family, What a blessing that you are back on American soil with your loving family for the holidays. We know that it will be a hard transition for a while and how you will miss Dr. Greenshirt, the best doctor in the world. Miracles really do happen and we can't believe you are the same young woman that we met two and a half years ago in a very precarious state. Look at you now, rosy cheeks and all.

Hugs and kisses,

Cathy and Devon

Anonymous said...

Jessica, Sarah, and family,

Welcome home! Pictures are truly worth a thousand words. Who would have ever thought that such a horrible disease would bring such wonderful people and families together. Throughout this entire experience, it has been a blessing to meet people like yourself and your family that are so uplifting in the roughest times in our lives. I have been blessed to meet many of the coma families and they have become like second families, you and yours included.

I am glad my, " double trouble" twin is finally back in Florida. Hopefully, our new photo album and our iPads will be full of non-hospital thumbs up. Who would have ever thought, two northern girls, meet in Mexico under rare circumstances and are now back safe and sound in FL with
their families. All thanks to Dr. Green Shirt and his entire staff. Truly a Christmas miracle. I am so glad to have you home Jessica. No more Skype! Can't wait to see you soon. Rest up. Love you all.

Suzie & Family

Anonymous said...

Oh, our God is faithful!! I remain amazed. Enjoy a most joyous christmas season with your family and please keep updating this story... it is amazing what you have gone through.... and to see you come out to the other side- victorious! How awesome is HE?! AMEN.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas to you and your family!!

Anonymous said...

GREAT to see you home and feeling better. Hope the progress continues. Molly!! she's so cute ♥ Glad you see your beautiful smile in all of your lovely pictures! I know you are probably exhausted from your trip, so rest up and enjoy getting to spend time with your family!

Anonymous said...

Miss and Love you Jess, and couldn't have a bigger smile on my face knowing that you are back with your family and healed!

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Jessica to you and your family. I've been following your blog as I have a 19 year old daughter suffering from the debilitating pain brought on by lyme and its coinfections. Your story has given me hope that she too may some day have some relief. You are truly blessed and a wonderful inspiration. May your 2012 be the beginning of all things wonderful. With love, Alyssa's Mom

Anonymous said...

Aw, it must have been a lovely reuinion and I am sure your family will continue to stare at you in that way for a long time to come! You are a true miracle, Gods own masterpiece to show that healings still occur... Even today, if we just believe. Enjoy your time reuniting, get a lot of rest, double what you may feel you need, and have the most joyous christmas celebration ever!

Robyn Weiner said...

Wow! Welcome Home! What a journey! Enjoy the holidays and your new Florida home.

Love, Your Friends at Garden City Middle School

Marianne E. Quinn said...

May you have a Joyous Christmas All Together! May God Bless All of You with Good Health, Happiness, and Peace Always! There's no Place Like Home!!!
With Love and prayers,

Anonymous said...

Incredible. Amazing. Awesome. No words... Just YAY! You made it kid.

Anonymous said...

Praise God! I am sure Dr. Cantu cried reading this. Thank God for him... He saved your life, but i am sure you changed him too. God bless you both.

Pam Ward said...

The last time I saw you,Jessica, you were so frail and in much pain. We could hear your constant whimpering and moaning through the hospital room wall. With sheer grit and determination and the devotion of Dr. Cantu you have crossed back to the other side. Now, I have a big lump in my throat. Your return home is so emotional as are your words to Dr. Cantu. You are a class act and an inspiration for all.

Pam Ward (Devon's aunt...two visits to Monterrey in September and October of 2009)

Michelle said...

Hey wessie! I cannot believe that you are finally home aft all this time! I am sitting right next to you right now typing this message. I keep thinking you are this fragile little thing that cannot be touched but in reality you are the complete opposite and i am just so amazed. Finally i can hug you and kiss you and lay in the same bed as you! You have gotten so much better and it is just a miracle. Praise God because without him none of this would be possible. I am just so overjoyed jessica! I cannot even begin to say words to describe what im feeling i just feel this overjoyed sense of emotion. I love you so much and am so proud of what you have achieved. I never thought this day would come when you would be home and finally it has and you've already been home for 2 days! I love you soooooo much!!!!! WESSIES! you are now home forever and i cannot wait to just hug you everyday and see you everyday when i wake up. I dont need a christmas present anymore wessie, because you are my christmas present!!

Anonymous said...

omg----thank you for posting---God is good all the time! I am so glad to hear the news!! Kisses to you all. xo xo xo xo xo

Lynch family said...

We are lifting you up in praise and prayer. You look simply gorgeous  You are so special to us and you amaze us! May 2012 bring health and happiness!

Anonymous said...

Sending you all our thoughts and prayers!! We have been so proud to be following this battle with you!! love and hugs! Keep updating, it brings joy to my heart to see you recovering so well!!

Anonymous said...

I am a physical therapist who treat patients with RSD and similar disorders and I have never seen one recover to this extent. This is great just great. That Dr. Greenshirt deserves a medal. Amazing.

God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Continued health and enjoy every moment with your family! Merry Christmas and best wishes for an amazing 2012. Cousin Adrienne

Anonymous said...

Jessica, I'm soo happy to read your blog and see that your back in FLORIDA! and that your whole family is reunited once again! It's a wonderful Christmas miracle to hear!

Marlena said...

Jessica! Incredible!!!! You are home!! You look so good!! I cant believe it!!

You dont know me but ive followeed this blog and your story has been such an inspiration in my life. I know this is NOT the ending to this story... But just the climax of one of the most exciting chapters!

Cant wait to see whats next up for you! You are amazing, Jesus is amazing, Dr. Greenshirt too! Wow!

Anonymous said...

Jessica, as someone who has never personally met you I have to say it brings tears to my eyes to see you are finally home. I have a daughter who is very ill with Lyme and your story is a story of Gods faithfulness and your perserverance. My daughter also has the faith of Job as you do and prays for healing and trusts that in his timing it will happen . May God continue the good work he has begun in you ...and may you have a very Merry Christmas!!!

Anonymous said...

What a blessing to read this! Its incredible and inspiring what the human spirit can go through with the guidance and direction of a great God! To him be the glory forever, thanking him always for your recovery! Have a wonderful christmas!!!

Anonymous said...

I am so very happy that you are now home. God is so very faithful! Please tell Sarah hello and that I believe what she did for you was the ultimate love that a mother could demonstrate to her child. You have both been such inspirations in our lives and in the lives of countless others!! Have a blessed Christmas and New Year and may it bring all God's blessings--especially the ones that we cannot even imagine!!
--Gloria from TX

Anonymous said...

Dear Jessica, Sarah and the totally amazing Stevens family,
It's hard to find the words to express how thrilled and overjoyed we are to know you are home again in the loving arms of your family. Thanks so much for the wonderful account of the homecoming and the beautiful pictures. Even Boomer and Hershey were in tears when we told them about your reunion with with Molly! Your homecoming was the best Christmas gift of all for everyone who knows you and has come to love you so much. Merry, Merry Christmas to you all!
Love, Kathy, Mark, Kerri and Erin

Kathy Collins said...

Dear Jessica,

I am so happy for you to be home and reunited with your family on your own turf and huggable. And most of all that you are better. I am Devon Emmanuel's aunt so have heard all about you and your ordeal. Your pictures are beautiful and miraculous.

With the concern and worry all along about Dev, I know how your family must be feeling. What a gift you are this year for Christmas.

Have a wonderful peaceful loving hugging day tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

OH MY GOODNESS!! I was just looking at your blog and noticed I missed this homecoming . . . how in the world I missed this blog, I will never know (especially since the glow you and your mom have could be seen from the sky . . . you both are beautiful, just beautiful!!). HOORAY yet again, gorgeous girl! What an adventure & the pictures spoke a million words.

We are all so happy here in New York and thank you for sharing your heart warming letter to Dr. Cantu. I can't wait to pass it along to friends & family that I update!


With our love,
The Klatt Family

Wil said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Jessica, Sarah and family.
I'm glad you made it home and I hope things continue to go well for you!
I'm in Saudi now trying to learn my new job. It's exciting and challening. Thankfully everyone speaks english, but I have to start learning arabic. People are great here.
All the best in the new year to you all!

Anonymous said...

Your story is amazing. I am so happy that your life has improved dramatically.

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!