Welcome to our CaringBridge website --a site of love and faith and hope on behalf of Rebecca Broyles Ponder! We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement and we covet your prayers! Thank you for visiting.
If you're visiting this site, you know Becca, or someone who loves her. Even those of you who know her well, may not realize all she’s been up against for quite awhile. But the severity of her situation now, and the amazing opportunity to head to Mayo Clinic in January to try and solve some of her health mysteries has led to the creation of this Caring Bridge page and a genuine desire to connect with you, or reconnect with you, and to ask you for your prayers and support. Everything we’re given in this life is a blessing from God — from our first breath to our last, our lives matter. And the people who journey through this life with us and who touch us in big ways and small are all a part of that gift, and in no small measure are the means by which God blesses us, and allow us to be a blessing. So, please come on this journey! Please pray for Rebecca, for her family, for the doctors and nurses and care-givers who seek to assist her. Please send well-wishes, and notes of support. Please be a part of thinking creatively about how to support Rebecca, improve her quality of life, and make this trip to Mayo not only possible, but fruitful.
To catch you up on what’s going on here’s a “short” history of the health trajectory that’s led to to this Mayo adventure (really— full version wouldn’t fit on this website!)……Most folks don’t realize that Rebecca has been quite ill since she was 7, diagnosed first with Oscar Schlatter’s Disease, a form of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Despite that pain, she pushed ahead, played softball, swam competitively, and poured her heart into music and performance through high school and college, and was training for professional opera up until her first major adult health crisis. While working first as the Catering Manager at Holiday Inn and then in the International Dept. at First TN Bank and training for Opera Memphis, Rebecca began experiencing unexplained bruises and welts on her legs, swelling, joint pain, and eventually, some moments of disorientation and confusion.
Tests eventually revealed that she had Lupus in addition to arthritis, and after some exploratory treatments, was able to get most of her symptoms under control. She and Larry wed in 2002, and wanting to be more able to travel and move freely, and at the urging of her doctors, Rebecca made the monumental decision to undergo weight loss surgery, to hopefully decrease the stress on her joints, and the chances of developing Type2 diabetes. The medicines and steroids used to treat her conditions had caused substantial weight gain as had the normal shift in lifestyle from being an active college student to working at a full-time desk job.
While weight loss surgery can go well for many, it did not for Rebecca, and through a series of medical mishaps, miscommunications among hospital staff, and a radical event (her surgeon was dismissed from the hospital for malpractice charges BEFORE she was discharged —a fact unbeknownst to Rebecca and family until more than a decade later), Rebecca’s follow up in the hospital and after her procedure, were inadequate for a completely healthy individual, and were actually life-threatening for Rebecca, given her severely compromised immune system. She ended up with an infection that led to sepsis, and with an abdominal wound that, in order to stop MRSA’s deadly spread, was literally removed down to the muscle wall, leaving her with a painful, disfiguring scar covering the entirety of her mid-section, that to this day causes her problems and jeopardizes her health. An IVC filter from that surgery that should have been removed several months after the surgery remains embedded in her inferior vena cava vein because it cannot be removed safely, and mesh incorrectly left in her esophagus, and only partially removed by a different surgery more than ten years later still hampers how her body processes nutrition, can tolerate foods, and in general make life miserable.
Many people look at Rebecca and can’t see the scars, the pain, the swollen joints and the suffering. Why? Because she gets up every day — a trooper— bound and determined to live her life as best she can, and to love and care for her family. Others see her only as overweight and suffering because of it. They only see her 24/7 oxygen, and that she has to travel by wheel chair for more than a short trip between rooms in a building as a consequence of weight. What they don’t realize is that the weight she carries, in large part, is a byproduct of extreme internal stress and inflammation, metabolic disorder, and constant pain, and the medicines taken to try to quell some of the aftermath of the assault on her body that arthritis, Lupus, the surgery and following infections, and then the constellation of other autoimmune diseases that have followed. They can’t see that her joints don’t work, that she can’t feel her feet, that the Lupus and its treatment have lead to hospitalization for congestive heart failure and respiratory failure and her recently diagnosed cirrhosis of the liver.
In the last decade, Becca’s diagnosis has come to include in addition to Lupus and Inflammatory Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Fibromyalgia, Diabetes, Neuropathy of legs, feet and hands and a rare blood disorder known as Anticardiolipin Antibody Syndrome. There are other issues as well, but this primary list is a collection of extreme autoimmune disorders, and that’s the mystery.…
Why is she continuing to collect autoimmune disorders? What can be done to quiet the internal stress of her body that keeps flipping on more and more? Is there a root cause that can be ferreted out and dealt with?
Heading to Mayo offers a unique opportunity to seek help from a cutting-edge, holistic, team-approach to health that simply can’t be topped by any of the excellent, but fragmented local care available here in Memphis. Rebecca’s situation is now quite perilous and we need help, hope, medical intervention, and we believe in miracles! We need your prayers!
So, that’s where things are right now, and that’s where she’s headed —- on a Mystery Trip to Mayo Clinic …in Rochester, Minnesota in January!