The wheels on Mike and Jackie’s rig turned very early the morning of July 19 as the couple headed to Charlestown, Indiana, to pick up Stanley, the first Angel Wheels patient to get a ride in a motor coach since the nonprofit organization was reinstated by Mercy Medical Angels. Mike Miller is a volunteer driver who calls Livingston, Texas, home base. They were in Kentucky visiting Mike’s mother.
The two rose at 4:00 a.m. and drove to Charlestown in their luxurious 40-foot Mountain Aire. Stanley, a 15-year-old boy who suffers from epilepsy, and his mom, Karolee, got on board, with Stanley sitting up front as Mike’s “co-pilot.”
Their destination was Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The Comprehensive Epilepsy Center there is one of the nation’s leading facilities. Stanley was scheduled to undergo tests to determine whether or not he would be a good candidate for surgery. Besides taking anti-seizure medication, he also has a vagus nerve stimulator that was implanted surgically in 2008. “It’s supposed to cut back on seizures, but Stanley has been having difficulties,” Karolee said. She hopes he’ll be able to have the surgery, which repairs the part of the brain from which his seizures originate. “They’re having a lot of success at Cincinnati,” she added.
Mike said that on the trip, he learned Stanley is “a history buff. He was looking around, asking questions, commenting on the old, historic homes and buildings in Cincinnati.” Continue reading “First Angel Wheels Mission Provides Hopeful Ride for Boy with Epilepsy”
This is a guest post by Emily Altmann, a senior communications major at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, serving as an intern with Mercy Medical Angels.
When Susie, a recent Angel Wheels patient, was diagnosed with Cholangiocarcinoma in August of 2010, options were limited for the 26-year-old, single mother of three.
Cholangiocarcinoma is a relatively rare bile duct cancer that affects the liver’s ability to drain bile into the small intestine. This type of cancer is typically diagnosed at its more advanced stages and is unresponsive to chemotherapy and radiation, leaving surgery as the only option.
For many years, Susie reported pain but was misdiagnosed. After the birth of her son and increasingly worse abdominal pains, doctors were able to remove her gallbladder and perform a second biopsy of the tumor. As it turns out, they said the cancer has likely been affecting her for the last three years.
“After talking with my oncologist and confirming that it was indeed cancer, we began searching for surgeons,” said Susie. “The surgeon most qualified here in El Paso unfortunately did not feel he could perform the surgery I needed, so I was referred to a doctor at MD Anderson.”
Continue reading “Eliminating Bumps in the Road”
The day that shouldn’t have to come came on October 24, 2011 to eight-year-old Jose. It was the day his mother dreaded, the day he began dialysis for stage five chronic kidney disease.
Jose was born with a congenital defect found only in male infants, posterior urethral valve. This is an abnormality causing obstruction of urinary flow. Unfortunately, doctors failed to detect it in time, and the boy’s kidney function progressively declined, leading to the need for home dialysis. This meant surgically installing an abdominal catheter, a device that uses the lining of the abdomen to filter waste products from the blood. Dialysis occurs overnight, which means Jose has to be in bed by 8:00 on school nights, and 9 on weekends. And this is what made Jose cry and ask the heartbreaking question, “When am I going to be normal?”
“I’ve always treated my children the same,” his mother said. Besides Jose, Jennifer has a 10-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son. “I’ve never let him know he’s different. But now it’s hitting him that he is. He used to share a room with his brother, but now he has to have his own room because of the machines. He feels lonely.” The third-grader has also missed many days of school due to his illness and must leave his class every two hours to empty his catheter.
Continue reading “Driver’s ‘Little Buddy’ In Line for Kidney Transplant”
By Taylor Allen, Intern, Virginia Wesleyan College
It started as any regular doctor’s appointment for Ruben A., of Sullivan County, New York. “I told my doctor that I was having a lot of discomfort in doing normal day- to-day activities,” said Ruben, 68. After he explained his problem, his doctor did a PSA test. The test measures the blood level of the PSA, a protein produced by a man’s prostate. The higher the PSA, the more likely it is he has cancer. At the time of his appointment, Ruben’s PSA was about a 5, which is slightly high.
At this point his doctor recommended he get a biopsy and referred him to a specialist in Middletown, New York, about 60 miles away from his house. When Ruben got the results back, he was faced with a harsh reality—he had prostate cancer. This doctor referred him to the Orange Regional Medical Center’s Radiation Oncology Center for radiation treatments. Ruben was now faced with a dilemma. “I live on a fixed income,” he explained. “I could not afford to drive back and forth, 120 miles a day, in order to receive treatment. So I asked the Orange Regional Medical Center for options on how to help, and they led me to Angel Wheels.”
When Ruben was researching the different transportation options, he said he contacted many of them, but either they couldn’t help or didn’t return his calls. “I spoke with Jim Smith, and Angel Wheels seemed like a godsend. I cannot remember the exact number, but Angel Wheels provided me with at least four gas cards to get back and forth to my treatments.”