Michelle’s Story

Site created on April 3, 2023

If you know Michelle, you know she is many things -- a mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter, and a friend. A passionate, vocal advocate for all those in need. A fighter, never afraid to step up or out for anyone who needs it.

And right now, she's also a patient -- at Maine Medical Center, where she is being cared for after developing sepsis following back surgery. Among many other challenges she now faces, Michelle has had both of her hands and both of her feet amputated.

A little more of the story: Michelle developed severe septic shock following an otherwise unremarkable surgery to correct a herniated disc in her back that was causing her tremendous pain. The septic shock was so severe that we very nearly lost her several times. At one point, her blood pressure was roughly half what it should be. As a result, she had widespread tissue and organ damage, and spent weeks on dialysis and well over a month on a ventilator. Finally, and horrifyingly, Michelle had to have both of her arms amputated below the elbows, as well as both of her legs below the knees, due to significant and irreversible necrosis of the tissue and bones there. She has now lost both of her hands, and both of her feet. However, she did not lose her life, which was not remotely a given for a long long time. Ultimately, this is not a condition she is going to fully recover from. Every road out from here is a hard and long one.

I'm Michelle's big sister (Lynne) and I'm doing this on behalf of Michelle, her two kids (Juniper is 3, Wesley is 7), her husband Nate, and all of our families to ask for help.

We don't know yet how much money she'll need, but we know it is likely to be significant. They have a high-deductible health insurance plan, and it's always a gamble what will get covered anyway -- she's getting a lot of care here. Nate is taking leave from work and while family is able to help keep things going, there are limits. Additionally, Michelle is going to need significant amounts of caregiving long-term, potentially one-on-one, as well as a new accessible vehicle (not covered by insurance), a specialized motorized wheelchair (unclear if insurance will help here), prosthetics for all four limbs (insurance routinely denies coverage of more advanced prosthetics), accessibility updates to her home, and many, many new adaptive devices and accessories (since she no longer has hands, she can do virtually nothing for herself at this point). All of that is on top of day-to-day needs like Wesley's 4-apple-a-day habit, pizza deliveries for the core caregiving family members, and all of the other things that help keep us going.

I will do my best to keep you updated on her condition, progress, and prognosis. Please keep us in your prayers and do whatever you can to help. Thank you in advance for any and all help you might be able to provide. It's what Michelle would do, unquestioningly.

Newest Update

Journal entry by Lynne Somerman

Big news, friends and fam -- Michelle is home! 

She worked very hard in her physical and occupational therapies, and as of late last week, she was able to return home. We are overjoyed and stunned and overwhelmed. 

There will be a long and challenging transition period, and soon we will know more about how everyone can help ease things there, but we couldn't keep this news to ourselves any longer. Our girl is home! 

P.S. If you're able to donate or share, Michelle and Nate and the kids are still very much in need. Short version: they're going to have to move, and buy an accessible vehicle, and make major alterations to their new space; all of these are out of pocket costs. Additionally, they still have no income, although Nate is trying very hard to return to work, his time is still entirely consumed by taking care of Michelle and the kids. Every bit helps, so tell your friends, your coworkers, your friends from your religious community and your yoga class. Go to gofundmichelle.com to donate, and thank you!

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