Dear Dr. Marshall & Staff,

I’ve been set free, delivered from the prison that was my own body. The extent of my condition was a nightmare that I couldn’t awaken from. My husband and I both knew that it was only a matter of months before this disease would take my life or that I would. As a Christian that is a hard thing to admit but that’s where I was. However, God heard my cries for help and through a chain of events He led me to your office.

It all began in September. I was watching TV with my husband and stood up to go to bed. When I did I felt funny and then collapsed onto the couch. I was unable to speak at first, and my entire right side was paralyzed. I had what they referred to as a minor stroke, a TIA, and was rushed to the hospital.

This was the beginning of a long three-year battle where I would continue to have these on a regular basis. At first it was only a few a month, then weekly, and so on until it was up to three times a day. It was always my right side, and they would vary from around an hour to almost the entire day. I never knew when to expect it or how long it would last. After many doctors and tests I was eventually diagnosed with Systemic Lupus. My Neurologist said the mini-strokes “TIA’s” were being caused by the brain stem, probably due to the Lupus, it was rare and they didn’t know how to stop it.

Along with the Lupus came an array of many other problems: Severe weakness sometimes to the point that I couldn’t even lift my head off the pillow. Muscle and joint pain, foggy thinking and memory, photo-sensitivity causing the sun to burn me easily and cause pain almost on contact, Sjrogens Disease– which dries the eyes and throat out making it hard to see and to swallow, Reynauds Syndrome– which causes the fingers and toes to get so cold causing pain requiring the use of heating pads for relief, and too many other symptoms to list. Needless to say, I was on many medications. At one point I was taking at least 35 prescription pills daily.

I got to the point that I couldn’t get around by myself most of the time. When I was strong enough to get a shower someone would have to watch out for me. I even had to have help going to the bathroom if I was having a TIA. There was an episode where I was struck with a TIA and severe weakness in the back yard when I was alone. I went down on the ground by an anthill and ants crawled on me for 45 minutes before anyone found me. I could wipe the ants off with my left hand but couldn’t with my right, so my left side was in pretty bad shape, I was also damaged by the sun. After this I was afraid to be alone and would sometimes have anxiety attacks if I found I didn’t have my cell phone close by which my husband insisted I have on me at all times. At times someone would have to stay with me or check in on me while my husband was at work.

The doctors told me I was not allowed to drive and I was given a handicapped-parking permit so that my husband could get me to doctor appointments. I was only 38 years old when all this started and I felt as if my life was already over. I was a prisoner in my own body. I couldn’t go anywhere, not to church, or the grocery store, I couldn’t cook, or visit my friends. I pretty much lost contact with the outside world. My husband had to wait on me hand and foot the moment he came in the door from work, and though he never complained, I felt so guilty for doing this to him. He did the cooking, the cleaning and the grocery shopping. I did nothing but lay in bed or on the couch most of the time.

I was so depressed and lonely, I felt so worthless. Then when we thought it couldn’t get any worse my breathing apparatus started to become paralyzed. Three times the paramedics rushed me to the hospital and I almost suffocated. Two of those times my family thought I was already dead. My family was really being torn up by all of this. They were so scared for me and I was too. The doctors thought I was just having heart trouble, so I stayed in the hospital and had more tests. We were thinking about getting oxygen to keep on hand in case this happened again.

We were sent to a specialist at Baylor University in Texas. We got so hopeful, and thought we would finally get some help, but then he had no answers for us either. I was so discouraged. Our children were grown and had just left home and my husband had to go to work. I knew I wouldn’t make it another six months like this. What if no one was there when I stopped breathing the next time?

Then I had the worst TIA ever, it was unbearable, extremely painful. I took pain pills and sleeping pills but nothing helped. Eventually it faded away and I passed out from the exhaustion and trauma. After that I had nightmares about it and thought about it all the time. I was so scared that would happen again and I just couldn’t handle that. It was already taking everything I had to hold on as it was.

So I made a plan. The next time I had another TIA like that I was going to take every pain pill, every sleeping pill and every other pill I had until I was gone. That way I would never have to hurt like that again. That way I wouldn’t have to hurt at all again. My nightmare of life would finally be over. I would finally have peace. And I prayed that God would understand and allow me to go to Heaven. I had even written letters to my children and my husband for when I passed on.

That week Fay, who is like a mother to me, told me she had talked to you (Dr Ray) about my situation and that you said you could help me. She had been trying to get me to go to you for about a year. Out of sheer desperation, I agreed to talk to my husband about this new treatment. He didn’t even let me finish my sentence before he said “when can we get you in?”

After my very first visit the TIA’s stopped! My energy levels have come back up and almost every Lupus symptom has improved tremendously. So much that I have come off of and down on several medications. I can drive again. I can go to the grocery store, out with my friends. I can go to Church again. And best of all, my husband doesn’t have to take care of my anymore as if I were a child. I have my life back. This is the first time in three years that I could really go Christmas shopping without any help. I am still taking it all in. Sometimes I find myself crying because I am just so grateful. I never thought this day would come. I was sick for so long that I have to learn how to be normal again. I know it sounds weird but it’s true.

I have been set free from that prison of sickness and disease that imprisoned my body and I have my life back. So many of my friends have been so astonished at the turn around in my health that they are now coming to you. I praise God that you have allowed him to use you as a vessel to help others. And I praise God for getting me to your office and healing me. I want to thank you and your staff for all that you do. You are truly making a difference in the lives of others. Thank you and God Bless You!

Voni H.

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