Kara White is a 16-year-old young lady from Lindale (Hideaway), Texas who is full of sass and spirit. She was a seemingly healthy, thriving child until about 18 months of age when she began showing signs of eyelid ptosis. Within a short 6-9 months her overall muscle strength deteriorated to the point that she had to have assisted head support to lie her back, and total assistance to raise her to a sitting or standing position and she was at an increased risk for falls. All tests and procedures came back negative over the next year except for some visual changes. Her genetic testing was also negative. After many PT and OT visits, she began to regain some strength and continued to maintain at a functionable level, attending school as normal.
Fast forward to the early morning of March 11, 2016. It was the Friday of Spring Break, Kara was 12 years old and in the 6th grade. She was dealing with a respiratory illness which originated as a simple cold virus but was progressing with an enormous amount of secretions. We were visiting my parents in Purdon, Texas (a rural community 19 miles from the nearest town of Corsicana) and we were already prepared to make the drive home to see her doctor that next morning. Around 2:00 a.m., Kara awakened needing to use the bathroom. As I assisted her to sit up she said she felt dizzy. We sat for a moment and then proceeded to walk down the hallway. I carried her and felt her become heavy and limp in my arms. My mom heard us get up and at that moment I had her emergently wake Kara’s daddy and my sister - both RNs. The 911 call was made and for the next 45 minutes we performed rescue breathing on her blue, lifeless, frail little body until EMS arrived. With the arrival of much needed suction equipment and oxygen our baby girl began breathing more effectively on her own and became more alert. It was the perfect storm of events on this rainy nightmare of a night: there were 3 of us in the house who are RNs and who were able to help sustain her life until EMS arrived - we all know God had his miraculous hand on our girl that night. The next 3 plus weeks were spent in ICU in Dallas recovering from respiratory failure related to the Human Metapneumovirus. We were discharged late in the day and Apple HMS met us at home late that evening with ALL the supplies we needed: Suction machine, cough assist, CPT vest/machine, oxygen, pulse oximeter, feeding pump (she was discharged with an NG tube) and all that is required for her feedings. The next year was filled with multiple specialist appointments, G-tube placement surgery, sleep studies and many new life adjustments.
One year later, on March 10, 2017, the Friday before Spring Break - Kara developed another respiratory illness which was related to the flu virus, and she was transported to Dallas again after going into respiratory failure requiring intubation in the Tyler ER. It was so hard to believe we were reliving this too familiar nightmare once again. We spent the next 3 weeks in the ICU and step-down unit. Apple HMS was there for us in the hospital on the day of discharge to assist with our new needs (the greatest asset being her BiPAP machine she uses without fail every night to this very day) as well as the return of some of our previously needed supplies.
We are thankful to report Kara has had 2 ICU-free Spring seasons, a successful scoliosis surgery in the summer of 2018, only one hospitalization for respiratory concerns this past November and she is thriving nutritionally while solely being g-tube fed for the past 3 years. Kara has just completed her Freshman year of high school, where she is in resource classes and feeling successful. She can independently hook herself up and unhook her tube feedings - she only needs assistance refilling the bags. For anyone needing a sense of hope and life after life-changing situations, Kara White is your girl. She’s our warrior and hero facing challenges that many of us will never encounter in a lifetime.
Apple HMS continues to deliver our multiple supplies monthly and our local Tyler office contacts are amazing - thank you Kristie Johnson and Courtney Roman for making our lives so much easier!