The following is a story written by Kathleen's daughter, Haley Agnew.
Growing up, my mother was always the most physically active person I knew. She grew up a highly decorated competitive swimmer, and as a parent, she always took me swimming, biking, hiking, canoeing, or white-water rafting, and was always much better than me at them all. As a child, she was my basketball coach, my softball coach, and my girl scout leader. I always respected her for being so physically active, especially since she did so as an asthmatic. As a young adult, I listened to my mother discuss the half-marathon she ran, or the triathlon she had just completed.
Since my mother’s diagnosis with Rheumatoid Arthritis, she has been unable to perform most of these tasks, which was to be expected, and something that came with the progression of the disease. However, what she did not expect was to lose the ability to feed her beloved pets, to sleep, or to walk ten feet.
As a result , she was given copious amounts of steroids, which eventually led to deterioration of the muscular structure of her trachea. The cause of her shortened breathing was thought to just be a by-product of her preexisting asthma, but was actually her collapsing trachea. She could not seem to get definitive answers about her condition – that is, until she finally saw specialists at The Mayo Clinic where she went in Nov. 2016.The doctors there placed her on full-time oxygen at that point and scheduled her for a surgery that had only been done a handful of times worldwide.
She flew home to prepare for her surgery as the doctor's wanted her off of steroids awhile prior to the surgery. While home she was hospitalized cause of trachea collapsing. Doctors at NMMC in her hometown of Tupelo, Ms got her well enough to fly back to Mayo for her mandatory surgery. She somewhat successfully made it out of the surgery, with great pain and little ability to perform everyday tasks, such as drive, go to work, or even shower.
Upon returning home she had Nausea and Vomiting to the point of having to have IV fluids in the ER. She also wasn't able to take her medications the doctors at Mayo had prescribed so she couldn't keep them down. Therefore she ended up back in hospital for a couple of weeks with pneumonia.
She is now home and attempting to recover, getting stronger but still has a long road to go.
Of course, our family is extremely thankful to God for gifting these amazing surgeons with such a specialized ability, and with the knowledge that after this surgery, hopefully things will improve drastically for my mother. However, it is without surprise that such a specialized surgery and travel to and from Rochester, MN has been extremely difficult financially for us. We are not the sort of people to ask for any kind of handouts, but sometimes it becomes necessary to lean on your support system to make it through the most difficult of times.