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Please Help Us Find a Solution to Kate’s Pain

A good friend of my family has been suffering through some pretty horrible medical pain and I would like to extend her bandwidth to my website in the hopes that someone reading this may be able to help her. Below are my wife’s comments from Facebook and a personal message from our friend, Kate Richardson. If you know anyone who may be able to help her please have them contact Kate. Thank you!

“I’ve known Kate and her family since she was in elementary school. She is a talented musician, a summer nanny for my boys, and an incredible, strong, loving person. She continues to fight this battle, yet manages to find some positive following every setback. Please take a look at her story, and if you have any ideas or recommendations that could help, please let Kate or I know. And please share this. The answer is out there. Thank you.” — Laurie McConnell

April 14, 2013
To Whom it May Concern,
My name is Kate Richardson. Two weeks ago today, I turned twenty-four-years-old. When I was a little girl, I would have guessed that I would be a veterinarian by the time I was this age. As I got older, I dreamed of being an English teacher. In my wildest dreams, I would never have guessed what my life at twenty-four would actually be like.
Right before I turned sixteen, it was discovered that I had a Chiari Malformation; a birth defect that causes the skull to stop stop growing before the brain does. As a result, the base of my brain was hanging twenty-two millimeters below the base of my skull. This put enough pressure on my spinal cord to cut off the flow of spinal fluid on one side as well as create a three millimeter cyst in the middle of it. After the surgery to correct the malformation, I got a severe spinal fluid leak. Another surgery was done to correct the leak and then the next eight years kind of start to blur together in my memory. I just never felt “good” again after that second surgery. It took us years, countless scans, endless medications, a trip to the Mayo Clinic and a few nerve blocks to finally discover that I had a pinched nerve between my top two cervical vertebrae. So I had another surgery to fuse C1 and C2 together. When that fusion didn’t take, we had to re-do the surgery.
After getting cut open so many times and being abused for so long, the back of my head just gave up. My occipital nerves are stuck in a pattern interpreting pain signals as “the norm.” My current diagnosis (along with fibromyalgia) is occipital neuralgia. We’ve tried to manage the chronic headache I live with by implanting an electronic stimulation device made by Boston Scientific. The spinal cord stimulator got infected the first time we implanted it. After surgical removal, I was injected with a PICC line and put on high doses of continuously infused IV antibiotics for two weeks. My latest surgery, number seven, was done to re-implant the stimulator.
For almost a year, everyone thought that this was the solution to managing my pain. But it hasn’t been working as well lately.
I have had to miss too many things in my life; graduation, events with family, numerous tours with musical groups, withdrawing from school and quitting jobs. I’ve worked really hard to fill in some of the gaps. I’ve gotten my G.E.D., I participate in music at my church (The Cathedral of the Rockies), I raise Guide Dogs for the Blind, I’m an active member of P. E.O., I’ve completed a year’s worth of classes at Boise State University and I’m a full-time nanny. These days, however, I haven’t even been able to be counted on to perform all my duties in those things that I love. As a matter of fact, I’m simply spending far too many hours in bed sobbing or in the emergency room desperately seeking enough relief to simply let me sleep.
It feels like the back of my head is going to implode and that there is a vice on my temples squeezing my skull to its breaking point. You know that headache you get from staring at a computer screen too long? Yeah, I have one of those twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. With occasional, intense stabbing pains in the occipital region and frequent bouts of dizziness accompanied by sparks shooting across my vision. I can’t walk through my own home without my cell phone in case I fall and am too weak to get up again. I’ve gotten to a point where I am missing work once a week because of pain and I am having to seriously consider not going back to school as I had originally planned.
I can’t live this way anymore.
And I can’t fix it by myself.
Generally speaking, I am not the kind of person to ask for help. I’ve just always been the bright, happy, optimistic girl that people admire for her strength. Truth be told, I’m running out of strength. And optimism. And happiness. And brightness. I need help.
I know that I am not the most critical medical situation out there. I am not dying. I still have control of all my limbs and my senses. I really do know. And that’s why it has taken me so long to ask for the help that I need. But all I need are some ideas. If you have any ideas on other options I should investigate, please let me know. If you have absolutely no ideas, please pass this on so that your friends and family and doctors have a chance to give me a lead. If all you can do is send me good thoughts and prayers, that goes a long way, too.
Thank you for your time, your consideration and for helping me get my life back.
Kate Richardson

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