Karing 4 Kerri

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Home and getting better

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 10:00 PM Comments comments (2)

Hi everyone!  We are so happy to report Kerri is home and gradually recovering from her port surgery and high dose boosters in Monterrey, Mexico.  We are preparing to take her Monday and Tuesday to Philadelphia for low dose infusions using her new port.  We will let you know later this week how everything goes, but for now we would like to share this with you!


Top 10 reasons why we are thankful we were able to take Kerri to Monterrey:


10. Kerri is able to move her left leg again and can walk short distances without any help (she used a cane since last August and was in a wheelchair full time since April)


9. Where else would a doctor have the patience and compassion to spend 20 minutes by your side drawing blood one drop at a time rather than rush and stick you several times?


8. Kerri was already able to stop taking 2 major pain medications


7. Where else could you think you were ordering strawberry water ice (nieve de hielo fresa) and get fish (pescado)?  Well maybe this reason isn't the best!


6. Dr. Cantu took the time and trouble to have one of his staff escort Mark to the pharmacy down the street from the hospital to fill Kerri's prescriptions.


5. The port will allow Kerri to resume the low dose treatments she needs in Philly once again.


4. Kerri is starting to be able to eat again without experiencing horrible pain.


3. Dr. Cantu offered to drive Mark to the laundromat when we ran out of clean clothes!


2. Our dog Boomer learned how to sleep past 5 AM while we were gone.  Yes!!!


1. YOUR SUPPORT AND PRAYERS HAVE HELPED SO VERY, VERY MUCH. THANK YOU!


Love,


Mark, Kathy, Kerri and Erin


One step closer to home!

Posted on June 27, 2012 at 1:15 AM Comments comments (4)

Kerri was discharged from the hospital after a few more hurdles and is getting much closer to being able to come home.  On Sunday night she experienced some pretty severe muscle spasms in her neck, but Dr. Cantu used IV Benadryl to ward them off, and luckily they have not returned.  She was visited twice on her last days at the hospital by a wonderful neurologist named Dr. Romolo.  He had treated Kerri after her coma and when he “heard Kerri Jarvis was back!” came in just to visit and she how she was doing.  He was interested in hearing all about Kerri’s life since her coma and told us he is learning how to fly a Cessna plane.  We asked if he could fly us back to Pennsylvania, but he said he needs a bit more practice.  We left Hospital San Jose on Monday, feeling very grateful to all of the people there and truly admiring the way they treat their patients.  On her last night at the hospital, Kerri was fortunate to be cared for by Angeles, one of our favorite nurses who has remained friends with Kerri for the past few years on Facebook.  Whenever she was working, we felt even more reassured and thankful.


This morning Kerri was able to go downstairs with Mark and I for a yummy buffet breakfast offered here at the Safi hotel.  It was so nice for the 3 of us to enjoy a meal together.  She is still not up to eating very much and is uncomfortable following all of the high dose boosters, but the pain at her port surgery sight is definitely improving.  Each day is a bit better.  She is sure looking forward to coming home on Thursday!



 

One more to go

Posted on June 22, 2012 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (6)

Hi to everyone who kares4kerri!  Kerri has made it through Day 4 of the planned 5 days of high dose boosters.  The newly implanted port is working well and she is glad to be rid of any arm IV’s and having to be stuck looking for veins.  The first 2 days went so well that on Days 3 and 4 Dr. Cantu has been able to increase her dosage for even better results.  The last 2 days have been a little bit rougher for her to handle but this is totally expected.  She is now walking very short distances on a regular basis and her pain levels and sensitivity to touch are definitely coming down!


Last night Kerri was able to travel in her wheelchair with her IV pole that Dr. Cantu says looks like a Christmas tree because it is so full, to visit a very brave, intelligent and sweet young lady named Estefy.  The two girls already knew of each other through the amazing Jessica.  A nurse stopped down earlier in the week to say there was a new amiga (friend) down the hall for Kerri to meet.  Kerri and I had so much fun getting to know to Estefy and her Mom.  We hope to get more chances to visit with them this week. Estefy and her family have even started an RSD Foundation here in Mexico to raise awareness about RSD and funding for research.  Her family lives right here in Monterrey.


Last night Kerri felt well enough to ask me to read her all of your wonderful messages to her on the karing4kerri blog.  She enjoyed them so very much – thank you all!  Mark has been keeping quite busy traveling back and forth to the Safi hotel each day.  Thanks to the help of our friend Sarah, his travels have been safe, and as Dr. Cantu says “on dot!” With some careful planning and additional help from Sarah, Mark was even able to get our laundry done today.  I found him a Father’s Day card this year that says he’s a Superhero husband.  That title really fits all the time, but “Wow” does it apply this year!


Jeff (Kerri’s “novio”) met my Dad in Princeton yesterday to pick up Erin and take her to her Bon Voyage picnic in Pennsylvania to get ready for the People to People ambassador trip she will get to take in July.  Jeff, although he is such a wonderful part of our family already, really helped Erin to feel special by being her family for the event.  I very quickly got some great pictures from Erin of our flowers in the front yard and some cute pics of Hershey and Boomer.  I think Erin is enjoying taking care of the home front for a few days but will also be happy to travel back to spend some more time with Nana, Poppop and Uncle Chris.  She has had some great times this week with them and also got to be a part of the fun Father’s Day miniature golf tradition with Uncle Tom and his girls.  Kerri got the chance to talk to Uncle Chris on the phone last night and as always, he managed to cheer her up immensely and make her laugh like only Uncle Chris can do!


So from the beautiful, healing city of Monterrey we say Buenos Noches!


Kathy, Mark and Kerri


 

Two Good Days

Posted on June 20, 2012 at 10:40 PM Comments comments (8)

I’m writing tonight through some Mom and Dad tears of joy.  Kerri’s recovery from the port surgery is going really well and she is already showing some signs of improvement tonight after the 2nd day of high dose ketamine boosters.  Her side effects so far are much less than ever before and she was able to really enjoy eating a meal today for the first time since February, when RSD again started affecting her ability to eat without pain.  Just now she was able to walk about 20 feet just barely holding onto the IV pole with her left leg moving instead of dragging and causing her to trip.  This is a first since April!  Dr. Cantu not only spent 2 hours by her bedside today to administer the booster, but also came back this evening to sit down and talk with Kerri about making a plan together for the remainder of her hospital stay and to have her let him know how everything is going.  We are so very, very blessed for Kerri to have the honor of being one of his patients.


We want to wish Nana and Poppop (Kathy’s parents) a very Happy Anniversary today.  As anyone knows who ever been lucky enough to meet them, these are two of the most amazing, considerate, wonderful people in the whole wide world.  They are making Erin feel so special and loved this week and reassuring her that everything is going to work out fine.  We also want to wish a belated happy birthday to our terrific neice, Patricia. Here goes for another Monterrey coincidence. Today during Kerri’s boosters, Dr. Cantu was admiring the picture we have hanging up of Kerri, Erin, Teresa and Patricia.  We were telling him about the work Patricia does with the Seeing Eye Program helping to deliver puppies who will become guide dogs.  A few hours later we read on the blog of another amazing RSD patient, Fern, that she will soon be getting a service dog to help her be able to enjoy life more and become more independent.  Fern lives in Canada, so today we got a chance to converse about service dogs in Mexico, the United States, and Canada.  And Happy Birthday also to Kerri’s good friend, Alexis.  She is one of the first people Kerri ever met when we first moved to Pennsylvania back in 2001, and our whole family has been so lucky to enjoy her company all of these years.  And two more birthday wishes to Megan and Russell!  Megan is Kathy’s goddaughter/cousin is not only a much loved family member but also a one of a kind, caring friend to both of our girls.  Kathy was the luckiest student ever to start college meeting her roommate, Iris,  Russell’s Mom was quickly to become her best friend for life.  Iris, we’ve come a long way since then!


And now for a bit more news to entertain you.  Kerri woke up from her booster yesterday speaking with a Spanish accent and using all the Spanish words she has learned!  The accent disappeared as she woke up more but it sure was delightful!  She is very happy that the lady in the hospital cafeteria has once again sent up a container of the pimiento robusto (spicy pepper) that Kerri loves when here in the hospital.  It turns out Kerri and Dr. Cantu are both fans of pepper!  The woman in the restaurant also made my (Kathy’s) day by telling me I’m making good progress with figuring out the money here in Mexico.


Thank you so much for all of your prayers.  God is definitely watching over Kerri here in the beautiful city of Monterrey.  Thanks also for your comments on the blog – we all love to read them!


Kathy, Mark and Kerri



These are Kerri’s companions watching over her in the hospital: a beautiful handmade Mexican doll from Kerri’s RSD soulmate, Jessica, a very special angel from Jeff’s neice, Gabby, Boo (the cutest dog in the world) from Kerri’s good friend, Yaniv, and of course Jeff the bear who helps get Kerri through when the love of her life, Jeff can’t be right there.

 

Today's view from Kerri's Room

 

Surgery went well

Posted on June 19, 2012 at 1:10 AM Comments comments (4)

Kerri is doing fine after having the port implanted.  She had pain after the surgery, but was resting more comfortably as the evening progressed.  We are all grateful for your thoughts and prayers.  They are helping Kerri to heal more quickly and are giving all of us support and strength to meet each new day with a renewing hope.

Off to a great start

Posted on June 17, 2012 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (5)

Hi everyone!  Our travels to Monterrey, Mexico went very well yesterday.  Kerri was very sore and exhausted by the end of the day but did much better than we all expected.  She’s one very brave and determined girl (our hero, in fact!).  Our hotel room was very welcoming with some unbelievable surprises left for us from our good friends, Sarah and Jessica.  There was a beautiful Mexican girl doll to watch over Kerri this week, yummy snacks, flowers and even a handmade combination card from Jessica to celebrate Kerri getting well this week and having a birthday next month.  We felt like royalty!


Dr. Cantu came to see us yesterday to talk to Kerri about what is planned for this week and to have Kerri explain about the difficulties she’s been having since August of last year.  I know you have heard us say this before, but he is truly an amazing doctor and such a compassionate person.  We’re so blessed to have him helping Kerri.


Today in the van on the way to the hospital, the driver played some music for us (fellow RSD families, do not worry, it was not too loud) and we drove here listening to one song with lyrics saying “everything is gonna be alright” and next was a tune from the Rolling Stones.  We decided these songs were played for us with a reason – after Kerri gets the surgery for the port and the high dose ketamine treatments, she will be out of the wheelchair and be able to “Move like Jagger”!


She is all settled in back on the 8th floor of Hospital San José.  Many of the staff who have already come in, remember Kerri.  To give you an example of how special we feel, one nurse came in and right away said she likes Kerri’s new haircut and was asking where is Kerri’s little sister?  They have also asked for Kerri’s “bodyguard” Jeff.  Dr. Cantu got Kerri’s IV started in the most comfortable vein on the first try (we’re doing the happy dance) so she’s having a continuous ketamine drip for now.  Surgery to implant the port catheter is scheduled for 2-3:00 tomorrow with about 5 days of high dose ketamine boosters for 5 days after surgery.


Thanks for tuning in and for all of your prayers and well wishes.


Happy Father’s Day!


Love,


Kathy, Mark and Kerri


Kerri and Dr. Cantu

Ruth, Kerri, and Sharon at Hospital San José

 

Heading Back

Posted on May 26, 2012 at 10:10 AM Comments comments (5)

We have very exciting news to share with everyone:  Kerri will be admitted to Hospital San Jose on June 17th!  The whole family is so relieved to have the date set and to know Kerri will be under the amazing Dr. Cantu’s care once again in just a few short weeks.  As luck would have it, Kerri’s friend, Jessica, will also be down in Monterrey at the same time, and the girls are looking forward to being reunited.  Tomorrow, the entire family is going to a barbeque to meet a few other RSD families in the area.  We are all excited for the chance to get to meet in person other RSD angels Kerri has previously only had the chance to talk to online.  As we count down the days, we would like to take the time to thank all of you for your generous outpouring of support over the last few weeks.  Thanks to you, Kerri has a chance of feeling better and we all have a renewed sense of hope! 

 


A Special Update

Posted on May 6, 2012 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

     Hello everyone!  Sorry it has been so long since we updated the blog, but we have been playing the wait and see game over the past few months.  I am having difficulty with eating again.  My whole GI tract is very sensitive, and eating and drinking can be very painful experiences.  Since February, I have just been eating the little bit that I can handle each day. Some days are better, and some days are worse.  I am also back in the wheelchair full-time because I pinched my sciatic nerve in my left leg.  As a result, I have pins and needles, dulled sensation, shooting pains, and difficulty with movement from my hip all the way down to my foot.  I have experienced similar problems in the past such as the GI sensitivity and pinched nerves, and I know that ketamine is the answer to calming everything down.  I have decided to go through with getting a port placed and receiving the high dose ketamine boosters in Mexico.  We are still waiting to hear when I can go, but we are hoping to go in the middle of June.  I will be finishing up my library classes this week, and then I will have a few weeks to relax and prepare for my next Mexican adventure.


     I wanted to share a very special story with everyone today.  Back in the fall, I made a friend, James, at the grocery store.  He is a vegan like me and has always been so sweet and helpful when I check out.  He always asks how I am feeling and tells me he is praying for me all the time.  We recently had a Whole Foods store open, and now my good friend is working there!  Whenever I see him, he brightens my day with a handshake or a hug and a wonderful smile.  Yesterday, I went with my family to have lunch at Whole Foods and to pick up some groceries.  When we went to check out, there was James at the counter smiling.  He told me to hang on a minute, and the next thing I know he is bringing me a beautiful bouquet of flowers!  As we were checking out, he asked how I am feeling, and we let him know of our plans to travel back to Mexico.  He said he has been praying for me.  I am so fortunate to have so many kind and special people in my life helping me along the way.  Waiting for treatment can be difficult, but all the random acts of kindness help me get through.  Thank you everyone!  We will update the blog again once arrangements are made for me in Mexico.


-Kerri


P.S. My good friend, Jessica Stevens, has been in the news recently spreading awarness of RSD and the Ketamine Coma.  She even got to meet the First Lady, Michelle Obama!  Click on the Links and Resources section to see her videos.



 

Happy New Year!

Posted on January 1, 2012 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (1)

We have a very special story to share with all of you.   On Christmas morning, we were surprised to find a jar of coins on the front step with a book and note attached.   The book is called “Christmas Jars,” and the note read, “Kerri, God bless you this Christmas time and always.”   As you can guess, we were all very surprised, and this random act of kindness moved us to tears.   We would like to take this opportunity to thank Kerri’s anonymous Christmas angel for their incredible generosity.   Words cannot express how grateful we are for your compassion and consideration.  You made our Christmas very special!


As we ring in the new year, we would like to take a moment to thank all of you for your generous support over the years.   Kerri’s progress would not have been possible without you!   We will continue to update over the next few weeks as Kerri makes her decision on which treatment path to follow.


May you all have a happy, healthy, and joyous 2012!


-The Jarvis family


Happy Holidays Everyone!

Posted on December 7, 2011 at 10:20 PM Comments comments (3)

I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season as much as I am.  Christmas music has been playing constantly here at the Jarvis house, and Boomer has been finding all the decorations to be very exciting.

 

It has been a bit of an eventful week.  On Monday I had an office visit with Dr. Schwartzman, my neurologist in Philadelphia.  We had scheduled this appointment back in March for the purpose of routine follow up.  However, it turned out to be a much needed appointment because of the RSD flare-up I've been in since August.  As always, I was anxious to hear what Dr. S. had to say about treatment options, since he is the "RSD guru." He found my symptoms at this point to be quite troublesome, and at first recommended the 5 day ICU inpatient high dose ketamine infusion at Hahnemann Hospital.  Because of my inability to tolerate IV's at this point, this would also most likely involve surgical implantation of a medical port.  The problem with this option is it's not covered by our medical insurance plan and would cost approximately $30,000.  When Dr. S. realized our insurance wouldn't cover the procedure, we discussed traveling back to Monterrey, Mexico, to obtain comparable treatment at a much lower price.  Given the price difference and the phenomenal quality of care I've received during my previous 2 visits to Hospital San Jose, we're thinking this may be the best option if I decide this is the treatment route I need to take.  I'm not quite ready to make these plans yet because I want to try a more non-invasive plan for now.  Dr. S. agreed a trial with pool physical therapy 3X a week for a month is the next step to take before making any big decisions.

 

I was extremely fortunate with the timing of all of this.  We came home from the appointment in Philly Monday morning and called the rehab department at Chester County Hospital (where I went for pool therapy after the coma), and I was evaluated for pool therapy later that same afternoon.  It was like I never left - becoming re-acquainted with the wonderful staff there.  I had my 1st therapy session today and I'm hoping for the best!

 

I would like to share our holiday picture with everyone.  We always joke that this is the year we may have to photoshop rambunctious Hershey into the picture - well, 2011 is that year!  He was just too excited to stay still enough for a festive family photo.  Please continue to keep all those people bravely dealing with RSD in your thoughts and prayers.  We'll update everyone again when we talk to Dr.Schwartzman in a month.  Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season. Thanks for all of your love and support this year.

 

Kerri

 




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