The Kerr Divine 


My wife's battle with a mysterious illness 

Hi. You probably don't know me. My name is Nathan Kerr. I'm 25 and I've been married to my beautiful wife for 3 years. Together we have a 2-year old son. For the past two years (starting pretty much at the birth of our son) my wife has had major health problems.

It started out fairly small. My wife had a c-section because the baby was breach. She seemed to be recovering fine, but after they sent us home, she started having severe abdominal pains. We went back into the hospital and they gave her some pain killers and told her she "just wasn't handling the pain (from the c-section) very well" and sent us home.

That same night, she woke up around midnight screaming at the top of her lungs. We called 911 and they rushed her back to the hospital. In the emergency room there, they didn't believe that she was in pain, and so they completely ignored her. They eventually admitted her to the hospital and started giving her pain medication. After a day of being there, one of the nurses took pity on her and had the doctor do a ultrasound on her stomach.

The ultrasound came back and showed a huge mass sitting right under her c-section scar. It was a massive blood clot, about the size of a school notebook. They immediately scheduled her for surgery to remove the huge clot. The doctors were successful and removed it, but my wife had to stay in the hospital for another week. That meant that for the first two weeks of his life, my wife barely saw our son for more than a couple of hours in total.

Things seemed to be better for quite a while. Until a couple of months later she came to pick me up from work. On our way home, suddenly her neck swelled up and she couldn't breathe. We rushed to a near-by doctor's office where they gave her anti-histamines and then transferred her to the hosptial. After a bunch of tests and about a day, they couldn't find anything wrong with her and sent her home.

Over the next fews months she had a couple more episodes. Each one happened in exactly the same way and each's resolution was the same. Eventually one doctor sent her to see an endocrinologist to test her thyroid because he thought that the swelling might be caused by an enlarged thyroid. That doctor discovered that she had hypothyroidism. The doctor put her on a hormone to try to correct that problem. She told my wife that her thyroid wasn't really that big and shouldn't be causing the swelling episodes.

After many doctors visits and no results, we decided to just try to deal with the swelling problem. It was at about this time that my wife started having digestive problems. It didn't seem to matter what the food was, how or when she ate it, but it invariably made her sick. Because of this, she could hardly eat and lost about 25 pounds. After many sessions with a gastroenterologist (G.I.), we decided to have my wife undergo a colonoscopy and an endoscopy. The doctor was unable to find anything wrong with her digestive system.

At the time, we were in the process of buying a nice house in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We had put around $2000 down on the house and it was progressing nicely (it was being built in a new sub-division). Because of her continued health concerns, my wife and I decided that we needed to be closer to our families. Both of our families reside in Oregon, near the Portland area. If we didn't stay, we'd lose all the money that we put down on the house.

After a lot of talking, and another month or so of worsening health, we moved. I quit my full-time job, we rented a moving crate (which turned out to be five foot by eight which was about half the space we thought we were going to have), loaded everything we possibly could into it and sold the rest, my wife and son flew to Oregon on a plane, and my brother and I drove our car back to Oregon. 

My parents were gracious enough to allow us to live with them for a couple of weeks while we found a place to live. We finally found an apartment that was nearby and moved into it. It wasn't the best place ever, but it was something. 

Almost at the same time as finding the apartment, my wife started having really intense, sharp pains in her abdomen. To her, it felt like the blood clot all over again. We took her to the Emergency Room, and they gave her pain killers and sent her home. She felt okay for a couple of days, but then it came back, worse than before. Again we went to the Emergency Room. The doctor that time decided to do a scan of her appendix. He said that it was slightly swollen, but he wanted to make sure it wouldn't turn into anything serious, so he operated immediately and removed it. After a couple of days in the hospital for recovery, they sent her home. That seemed to stop the pain.

When we had started talking about moving back to Oregon from New Mexico, I started to apply for any job I could find in and around the Portland area, even going as far south as Eugene. When we moved, I still didn't have a job. My dad agreed to hire me to handle medical record storage at a rate that was just enough to cover our rent and food.

Through all this, my wife's health continued to deteriorate. Another G.I. doctor suggested that we do another colonoscopy/endoscopy to which we agreed. This doctor finally found something.

Celiac disease. While not totally unexpected, we were still quite surprised. The previous G.I. doctor had suspicions, but couldn't confirm it. Now we knew what was going on. Since she had been having problems for so long, my wife had already clung to the idea of being a celiac as a means of relief. She had started to take as much wheat out of her diet as possible, just to see if it would help.

Now that we had a true diagonsis, she switched over to a completely gluten-free diet. It was around then that I landed a job, an intern at Intel, Corp. Things were starting to look up. Since the commute to Hillsboro from where we were currently living would've come out to be about 2 to 4 hours total, we decided to again move.

We found a delightful apartment that was a much better place to live than the one we originally found in desperation. The neighbors were nice, the apartment staff competent, it was close to Intel. Basically everything our previous apartment wasn't, this place was.

Through all this, my wife was practicing the gluten-free lifestyle. She liked to bake dessert and cook meals, so she had lots of ideas on how to make food that was safe for her, but also tasted good. Her health eventually started to level out as she got the gluten out of her diet.

But that was it. Her digestive problems were still there and she was still getting sick constantly. All of the doctors (of which there were many) were baffled as to why she still wasn't getting any better. She was even referred to a neurologist to see if it was all in her head. Unfortunately, they couldn't find anything wrong either.

While this was still going on, she'd occasionally (almost weekly) have to go to an urgent care center for the pain and nausea. That would get her through the next week until the next bout.

Finally, at one visit to the urgent care, a doctor mentioned that her problems kind of sounded like lyme disease. This was a new idea that no one had proposed before. Excited to have a new direction, we researched and found out all we could about it. She fit the criteria for every single symptom except the first, the ring around the bite. We immediately brought it up to her primary care doctor who almost as immediately shot it down. He said that there was no way she could have the disease, and besides, she didn't have the tell-tale rash. After arguing with him for quite a while about the fact that the rash only happened in the majority of the cases, not all of the cases, we finally convinced him to do a test.

But only the basic test. The basic test is for anti-bodies, and is only useful in the first couple of months of being infected with lyme disease. By our calculations, she would've had the disease for over two years. (In fact, we can pretty well pinpoint the exact timing of getting bit. At the time, we had thought it was just a regular tick bite.) Of course, this test came out as negative and he refused to test or consider that option further.

We tried to find a doctor to help us, but no one was willing to do the more extensive testing that the diagonsis required. Eventually, we sought out the original doctor that told us he thought that it was lyme disease. He hadn't told us where he practiced (he was moonlighting at the urgent care facility) for fear of legal issues. We finally found him, but were disappointed because he wasn't covered under our HMO health insurance plan.

We decided it would be worth our money just to get my wife feeling better and started seeing this doctor. This happened just recently. Already he has helped her to find specific problems and to correct them. 

Currently, my wife is gradually feeling better all the time. But we have a slight problem, all of this incurred huge bills. Right now, every penny I make at my internship is going to rent, food, and medical bills. My internship ends in August and we don't know what we're going to do then.

I normally hate people who do this sort of thing, but I don't know what else to do. Can you help? I'm not asking for straight up money, although we'll accept it if you so desire. I'm trying out an idea of selling stuff, right now I'm in the process of putting together an online store. Check the bottom of this story for a link. You can also check my eBay auctions and see if I'm selling anything there that would interest you. 

I'm always coming up with new t-shirt ideas and other ways to raise the needed money, so keep checking back.

Thanks. If you'd like, you can email me. (Remove the capital letters.)