When someone you love is sick and in need of help, all you want to do is take care of them and alleviate them of pain. To see your close family and friends struggling is always difficult, especially when it comes to life threatening situations. Matt Lewis had to face this fact when his wife Janell was fighting for her life in a hospital bed near their home in Nevada.
Matt and Janell met around 13 years ago as performers in Las Vegas. Matt was an Elvis impersonator, Janell a dancer in his impressive show. Right from their first meeting, sparks were flying between the two and soon they were married.
“I know this is cliché, but she is my soulmate,” Matt revealed in an emotional interview with Independent Journal Review. “We were cut from the same fabric.”
They performed on and off until 2015, when Janell began to notice something was off with her body. Her hands would shake, she was having heart palpitations and soon she began getting horrible headaches and feverish sweats.
As a dancer, Janell was in great shape and very athletic. All of a sudden, she was unable to do much exercise without sweating bullets and getting heavily winded.
Soon the headaches weren’t just headaches, but included periods of vomiting and stomach pains. The couple desperately sought out every doctor in the area to try and diagnose what was going on with Janell, but each time they were met with disappointment.
In late 2016, a doctor finally tested her for Pheochromocytoma, also known as Pheo. It is a benign tumor that causes wild spikes in blood pressure due to shifting amounts of epinephrine coming out of the adrenal gland. She was formally diagnosed in the middle of February, but soon her vomiting worsened. Matt knew something was seriously wrong with the love of his life, and he was doing everything he possibly could to find his beloved a cure.
Janell was rushed to the hospital and told that she was suffering from a stroke due to her high blood pressure. They were sad to report that several of her vital organs have been harmed by the stroke, including her brain, kidneys, heart and lungs.
Doctors struggled to treat Janell, due to the complicated nature of Pheo. Matt asked around to see how he could get treatment for this rare tumor, and found out that she needed a specific expert in Pheo to remove the tumor. The University of California Los Angeles said they would treat her as a patient, but their insurance company refused to pre-authorize surgery for a pre-existing condition.
So even though they were paying customers, Matt and Janell were struggling to find treatment to save her life.
“When the doctor says we need to escalate this case to a higher level of care, it should be a no brainer. But the insurance company did not see it this way,” Matt said.
Other hospitals in California wouldn’t take her without the approval of insurance, but UCLA came through and offered to do it for $125,000. They would have to pay before the surgery in cash, so Matt started a GoFundMe to try and help out his poor wife.
Within a week, they had raised $175,000 and were incredibly grateful for the generosity of everyone involved. But soon UCLA called again and told them that it was actually going to cost around half a million dollars.
Someone was looking out for them, because University of California, San Diego soon offered to do it for $200,000. Matt and Janell once again had to ask for more generosity and the response was amazing once more.
Matt and Janell still don’t know the total cost of her treatment, but luckily they were able to find a doctor that would treat them in San Diego. She underwent surgery for two and a half hours and it was very successful. But the fact that they had to struggle so much just to get treatment as paying health care customers understandably continues to frustrate Matt.
“Democrats and Republicans have to quit jacking around and making health care political. The people caught in the middle don’t care about politics. We care about getting health care right. Politicians have lost sight of the problems people are facing and the people they are supposed to serve,” he continued.
Do you agree?