Petite Trésors Rescue & Sanctuary -
a 501c3 nonprofit
In The Beginning
This is my story. I was born in 1953. We didn’t have Fluoride in the water yet. Everyone had fillings in their mouth. As I grew up in a neighborhood of similar houses, with new families in all of them, it sort of resembled the old “Our Gang” TV show. Of course TV was Black & White with few channels but we had Mickey Mouse. I don’t know if every baby boomer feels this way but back then on our little street everyone knew his or her neighbor. Mothers stayed home, dads took the only car to work and everyone looked out for each other. Lets skip ahead, about 50 years. By now, married to another baby boomer, with 2 daughters and a career, our generation had pretty much trashed the planet, worshipped the almighty dollar and went about our lives with the attitude that everything would always remain the same. There really wasn’t too much to fear. However, some of us feel the transgressions of the masses in our physical bodies. Some label us as Empaths, some think our physical issues are all in our head. There are many new theories that illness may be associated with stress that our minds can’t manage and so they manifest physically. I am one of these people. I was thirsty from birth. I used to think that maybe because I was adopted, I didn’t get enough to drink because I spent my early weeks in a nursery with all the other discarded babies. Ridiculous, I know. Stress.
The Teen Years
Back when I was a teenager I developed a scalp rash called seborrhea that my mother took me to the dermatologist for. He told my mother it was her making me nervous that caused the condition. I don't think I was familiar with the term stress at that age, but clearly this was my first autoimmune issue. Although it continued as long as I lived in the same house, the condition was managed with medication. When I married and moved to my own home, it went away, only to return whenever my mother would visit.
In My 20's
I married at 21, my first child was born at 26, I became anorexic. My second child was born when I was 29, 1 month before turning 30. It has been said, you really don't know someone until you live with them. Even after dating for 3 or 4 years, I did not know my husband. Having grown up in an atmosphere that was anything but nurturing, I was looking for a family of my own. Empaths are extremely sensitive. Many things that might be normal for others have an overwhelming affect on people who are sensitive to certain stimulating factors like light, noise and energy in general. Within the first year of being married I was diagnosed with acute gastritis, I haven't heard that term in years and eventually that term for my condition was called IBS. For anyone who has never heard of this term, this was the mid 70's. Today there is all manner of the brain/gut connection being studied. However, 40 years ago, not so much. You were given a pill for everything.
In My 30's
I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 36. That was over 30 years ago and they were barely on the cusp of reconstruction and there wasn't any genetic testing either. There was radiation however, and they radiated the entire half of my torso from my neck to bottom of my ribcage through to my back. Stress. The burns were so egregious that my breasts swelled to 4 times their size from the edema that the burns caused along with the open wounds that made you wish you would die with every shallow breath you could manage. The shallower the better so your breathing would not move your chest too much because each tiny breath caused the open wounds caused by the burns to expand.
In My 40's
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue in my forties. My adopted father and my adopted brother were both dying in different states and I spent months trying to fix all of it. What’s to fix? Okay lets rephrase that. How about manage. I tried to manage my job in Chicago, my family in Indiana, my adopted father & mother in New Jersey & my brother in Philadelphia. The result was my brother & father died in the same 24 hours and we had a double funeral. Stress. A year later I walked into a bagel shop to order breakfast and I couldn’t speak. PTSD was added to the list of illnesses. I mentioned how I was thirsty my entire life. Now my teeth were breaking. I assumed that the reason was because as you age the fillings shrink and the teeth brake. I have broken every tooth in my mouth, sometimes the same teeth 4 times. But I was still working and had insurance and although extremely costly managed to have them capped as they broke. Stress. Then came the odd mouth tic. Declining health sometimes is so gradual you don’t give it too much thought. My doctor sent me to an ENT and his own Dentist because of the white hard spot that was developing on the tip of my tongue, thinking it might be cancer. Stress. I also had chronic dry eyes with multiple corneal abrasions. My eye doctor at the time told me I had the dirtiest eyes he had ever seen. .
In My 50's
By my mid 50’s I had divorced, remarried and moved several times. The person I worked for closed his office in Chicago and I was jobless as I approached 60. Stress. As my husband and I talked it over, and not wanting to look for another job, especially with escalating health issues, we decided that I would start a dog hospice. Ever since the simultaneous deaths of my adopted father and brother, I had stated many times I wanted to become a Hospice worker. Unfortunately, we also realized that with my own health issues that would never be feasible, but I still wanted to do some meaningful work and I have loved dogs my entire life. Empaths are drawn to working with animals. I began by adopting a dog and becoming a member of the rescue that had him. Pretty soon I was bringing home fosters and we became foster failures. We realized we needed a larger place with more land.
We found an old farm being sold with 10 acres that had been vacant and on the market for 3 years. The owner whose parents had the property for 50 years assured us that we could do whatever we wanted with the property. His daughter, the listing agent as well as the family attorney never commented on the statement and we assumed this was the truth. Yes, we know, buyer beware. We purchased the property, which we named Le Château de Chien, https://www.petitetresorsrescue.com in 2014 and started the renovations to create the 501c3 nonprofit hospice for abused, handicapped and senior dogs we named Petite Trésors Rescue & Sanctuary . We knew we would need a source of funding and thought this was a perfect setting to hold farm weddings. But with all renovations, especially with very old homes, in this instance 1860, a number of horrific undisclosed issues reared their ugly head and there were issues with laborers, plumbers, electricians, painters and on and on adding thousands of dollars to the project. We moved in on November 8, 2014 with only 1 sink and no counters anywhere. The next day we had no water. It seems that there was a lot of iron in the well water and the filter the plumber had installed was clogged within the first 24 hours. Stress. The next weekend, liquid was bubbling up in the toilet & shower when I drained the tub, however, the septic tank had been emptied before we closed on the property. We were informed the footings from the deck that might have been there 50 years, we didn’t know, were directly placed on top of the sewer tiles and crushed them. As 25 dogs were running throughout their new home and the 40 feet plus of re-routed sewer tile mud, just 1 week before Thanksgiving, I thought why not write a blog and call it 100 Muddy Paws. Stress
In My 60's
By now, I had been falling very hard, almost daily. Then one morning I couldn’t use my hands. I couldn’t hold a pen or cup. I went to my pain doctor and requested a referral to a hand specialist. My doctor stated that he wanted me to go to Rush Hospital in Chicago because he was positive the problem was caused by my cervical bones and the doctor he sent me to agreed. I had surgery to fuse my neck but the issues continued. At my eye doctor exam, a new doctor saw me who was filling in for my regular eye doctor. You might remember him from above? The doctor who told me I had the dirtiest eyes he had ever seen? But this new doctor, after examining my eyes told me he wanted to refer me to another doctor and that I would not have to worry about eye insurance because it would be covered under medical insurance. The new doctor took one look at my eyes and said, “you do know you have Sjogrens, don’t you? I had never heard of this but the doctor, Dr Rob Moses of Moses Eye Care, stated I needed to get an appointment with my Rheumatologist and he had to do a special eye test to take a baseline for the medication my Rheumatologist would put me on. On the way home from the appointment, with my best friend driving me, I Googled Sjogren’s Disease. It seems that Sjogrens steals your salivary system. I had every symptom mentioned. The medication can affect the retina and I needed to be tested every 6 months. Two and a half years later I was taken off the only medication they have for Sjogrens, because my vision, poor at best, was already being impacted from the medication and neither my eye doctor nor my Rheumatologist had ever seen this happen before someone had been on the medication for 10 years. Stress. In addition, after seeing the Rheumatologist to confirm the Sjogrens diagnosis, I was also diagnosed with Lupus. Just recently I read that the hand issues I have are also attributed to Sjogrens. This was all during the first year at the rescue farm. Stress.
As part of the advertising for weddings, our partner placed a very large sign up on the side of our barn. Then the county came calling. It seems we needed a variance. Stress. You may think I’m crazy, and you wouldn’t be the first, but I have always had the gift of sight. I see things that are going to happen before they do. I already knew what this outcome would be. After paying well over $400 for a nonrefundable application fee along with over $400 to send registered letters to approximately 50 homes, the meeting date was set and every one of those 50 some people came and voted it down. I refused to go to the meeting because I already knew the outcome. The event sign came down and the For Sale sign went up the next day. Now we were left to try to make ends meet until we could sell the property. Stress.
It was during this time the people to the south of us began building their home. However, they began by manipulating the land to create a hill in front of their pond and proceeded to start building. The house on the hill drove all wastewater into the pond on their property and expanded their pond onto our property connecting the ponds. About a month before moving into their new home, Rick and Eileen King came to our door and said they wanted to dredge their pond and would it be okay to be on our property since the boundaries were under water and no longer visible. The only thing that entered my mind at that time was, first, they recognized there was a problem and second, they were rectifying the issue. However after dredging the pond, as it refilled over the fall, winter and spring, the problem became even worse.
We knew that at some point we would not have any medical insurance for about 18 months after Cobra ran out until turning 65 and being eligible for Medicare. One of the earliest symptoms I manifested is urinary incontinence. Stress. My Rheumatologist said she felt it was caused by inflammation from the Sjogrens and my hands continued to have unmanageable pain, along with the other pain from Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Sjogrens and Chronic Fatigue. My husband has found me sobbing in the shower because I can’t lift my arms to wash my hair. I rarely have left the farm in the past 5 years other than to go to the doctor or hospital. There have been times I just wanted to go with him to run an errand but in the time it took me to get ready, maybe 2 to 3 hours, with my husband patiently waiting, I was too exhausted to leave and went back to bed. So while we still had Cobra insurance, I opted to have 2 Medtronic’s devices inserted in both sides of my sacrum, one was for bladder control and the other was for hand pain since I knew we had no money for doctors, hospitals or medication until we qualified for Medicare.
As the King's pond refilled it continued to expand onto our property, and destroyed our hive boxes and drowned our bees.We approached the owner, Rick King, and explained the situation. He acknowledged that there was a problem and asked to see where the bees had been. We had removed the boxes but the tarp they had been on was still in place. Rick King then said he would contact his landscaper, Small's I believe, and have them fix the problem since he had already paid them $70,000. We heard back from Rick King within a day or two that he had instructed them to divert the pond west and they had mistakenly diverted it east which caused the problem. He went on to state that he was having them fix the issue however, when requesting compensation for the damages and loss to our property, Rick King refused to compensate us on any level. STRESS
As the summer went on, the Kings appeared to have their pond worked on, and I continued having health issues.
After the surgery to implant the Medtronix devices I still had problems with unmanageable pain. One side healed quickly without complications, but the other side felt slightly sore the entire 18 months. In the summer of 2018, approximately 2 to 3 months before I would turn 65 in August and get Medicare health insurance, I began having issues on my right leg. I thought that the implanted devices must be pressing on my sciatic nerve and my leg would be numb but at the same time, it felt like someone was hitting me on the hip, leg and ankle with an axe. I scheduled my surgery to have both devices removed as neither one had actually worked to alleviate any of the symptoms they were implanted for. At times, the pain was so disabling that I would scream and sob as I was lying in bed. I couldn’t even sit up to eat. Stress. The surgery was August 13th, 3 days after I turned 65, to remove the devices and the pain immediately subsided. But the side that had always been sore became infected. I was admitted to the hospital as an emergency and had surgery the next day to remove the infection and insert a wound pump. I was there for 5 days on a cocktail of IV antibiotics because they did not know what they needed to treat me for until the cultures came back.
I had MRSA, probably for the 18 months that the device had been implanted. I was put on the proper IV antibiotics and discharged with a Picc line and portable wound vac. I was also required to go back to the hospital 7 days a week for 3 hour infusions and a nurse came every few days to my home to clean and redress the wound vac. The last week of infusions I started feeling unwell every afternoon. My last infusion was scheduled for a Thursday in September. The night before I had a raging fever, excruciating headache, and chills that no matter how many blankets I had I could not warm up. I told my husband I couldn’t go for my last infusion but he insisted. At my last infusion the doctor sent me back to be readmitted through the ER and I started with a whole regime of antibiotic cocktails again while they sent out test after test to determine the source of this new infection. On day 7 I was released with a diagnosis of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Someone had died from this two weeks before. It was now October and I could not believe how weak I was. Stress. I would sleep until 4:00 in the afternoon and go back to bed a couple hours later. As each symptom presented, I was referred to a specialist. I now had a Rheumatologist, Gastroenterologist, Cardiac Specialist, Pulmonologist, Hematologist, Infectious Disease Specialist, Urologist, Pain Management Specialist, Phychairist, and was then referred to a Neurologist. All of these appointments took months to set up, get lab work or imaging and then it was summer again, now 2019. The first results were from an MRI of my brain. The result the Neurologist told us is that the MRI shows I have been having chronic strokes for years. Stress. The last time I traveled was 2017. I went to Seattle to see my only grandchild for their first birthday. I was in excruciating pain nearly the entire visit and had an extremely painful headache. The next morning when I woke, looking in the mirror, I saw that one side of my face seemed to have collapsed and my eye was drooping. I took a selfie and texted it to my husband. He immediately thought I had developed Bells's Palsy. Now 2 years later I realize it was one of the strokes. Stress. Because of my issues with corneal abrasions, particularly horrific on flights, I can no longer travel. When I was taken to the airport for my flight home my eyes were swollen shut and I could't see to walk let alone read signs and had to request a wheelchair to get to the gate. Stress.
Since we have not been able to access acres of our property due to the ground being so wet that it causes you to sink, much of the land that we had previously kept mowed was left to grow. I am sure this added to the amount of ticks and my Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
By spring of 2019 the flooding from the King's pond onto our property was getting worse by the month, resulting in flooding so much that it took out our orchard we had planted in 2014. We contacted the county building department and we were told that the Kings had all their permits in order and before and after pictures of the property where taken.
This is when the lightbulb went on, obviously the reason they had their pond dredged before moving in was so the after pictures would not show the damage they caused and continue to cause to this day.
The building department then told us to take up our issues with Wastewater Management. When Wastewater Management came out to see the problem, they agreed that the Kings had caused this and the Building Department was the agency that should deal with it. When we went back to the Building Department we were told "we were skating on thin ice" and if we continued to complain to them they would take measures with their attorney's against us. Welcome to Porter County Government. If I had the means I would put up a billboard saying "Porter County, The place to come to watch your dreams die".
All of these things only added to my stress causing many many more health issues. Along with the chronic strokes, I was diagnosed with Small Fibre Neuropathy, Dysautonomia, Autonomic Nervous System Disorder. I was having very hard falls daily. A new Neurologist sent me to a balance specialist. With the results of their findings I was sent to an eye specialist. I was dealing with Optic Nerve Atrophy. The new Eye specialist is retraining my brain and it is working. The falls have mostly stopped. However, the possible damage from these falls has been causing extreme pain and weakness in my right arm. They think the falls may have caused issues with my neck fusion hardware shifting, however they haven't been able to pinpoint the exact reason.
Our entire Universe has had it's share of challenges in 2020. Covid is something no one was prepared for. In some way I feel more connected to others now. So many are facing the challenges we have been facing for the past 7 years. As I previously stated, we have a number of Experiences listed on Airbnb. These Experiences made up approximately 50% of our funding for the shelter. Airbnb canceled all of them which left us in a state of panic about being able to pay bills. I also had 3 emergency stays this year, so far, in the hospital. The first was when I went in to have an outpatient procedure I get 3 times a year under anesthesia. I had made myself DNR status because my health only continued to spirit downward. In addition, I had learned I had a gene mutation of MTHFR. There are many variations of this mutation, however finding a doctor familiar with this was impossible for the past 10 years. My particular delineation inhibits my body from absorbing B vitamins. If you research vitamin B deficiency you will find that many of the symptoms are the same as many autoimmune disease symptoms. The medical staff had my DNR on record. Unfortunately, they woke me up in recovery and stated I was being admitted under Cardiology for another surgery because I was in Complete Heart Block and needed a Pacemaker/Defibrillator implanted. I had an extremely hard time trying to come to terms with this. When I returned home I became deeply depressed. I believed that what they did was wrong. I have had too many surgeries to count, and each time the instruction states, do not make any important decisions for 24 hours after anesthesia. In addition, since my husband was not with me, due to Covid protocols at the hospital, I did not have an advocate. I truly believed the only way out of the ongoing quagmire of my life was to die.
One of the Doctors the Neurologist sent me to see decided to run a Homocysteine level. A normal Homocysteine level should not be over 5.5, mine was 19. Homocysteine only stays in the bloodstream because your B vitamins are not clearing it out to make healthy new cells. The results of having high Homocysteine in your bloodstream it that is causes Heart Disease, Stroke and Blood Clots. The Doctor who ran this test then put me on a prescription form of vitamin B's and folate that my body can absorb. In one week the level went from 19 to 12. He then stated that my strokes should stop.
But the story doesn't end there. The damage to my eyes was partly caused by the medication I had been on for 2 1/2 years, Hydrochloroquine, the same medication they use for Covid. I had been telling every Doctor I had been to for 10 years, and there were many, about my MTHFR mutation. Not 1 Doctor in 10 years was able to address this. Only after I was having strokes and Complete Heart Block did a Doctor look into it and was able to treat the cause. How can I not believe that, if 10 years ago someone had the initiative to look into this, I never would have had strokes and heart disease to contend with.
When I last went to my Cardiologist, I had a reading taken from my Pacemaker/Defibrillator which showed I also had Atrial Fibrillation.
They wanted to start me on blood thinners. Unfortunately we can't afford the well over $400 cost for the prescribed medication.
I also had a bee sting on my wrist in August that resulted in being taken to the hospital by ambulance with Cellulitis. Two weeks later a bee sting on my other arm resulted in the same outcome.
This year I am writing. My first book, which is for families and small children, tells a story in prose. While waiting for the copyright, I am also writing a book about Empaths. When I first started researching Empaths, I learned so many things that made looking be so much clearer. The problems we face as we grow up in society are very different from others. We experience things that others are immune to. One of the experts in this field, Christina Lopes, explains it very simply. Most people are like a glass door. The glass keeps out rain, wind, hot and cold. An Empath is like a screen door. The screen lets rain, wind, hot and cold in. Most Empaths prefer to be alone or with only 1 or 2 others at a time. The energy from a crowd is so overwhelming that it leaves an Empath exhausted. The 5 top traits of an Empath are first that they feel the energy from others. Some of us are so sensitive that someone passing by can affect how we feel. Most Empaths have a strong connection with animals. Empaths prefer to work in nature and be close to water. Some are intuitive, precognizant.
So without knowing this, I purchased a farm with a pond, started a nonprofit dog hospice and each Spring, summer and fall spend the entire day outside putting in more gardens of flowers. I also have precognition.
There are so many aspects of being an Empath that have only now made sense. I hope to be sharing my book with everyone soon.
My Vlog, Support Group and Autoimmune Page
I started my vlog on my 66th birthday August 10, 2019. In one of my vlogs I talk about the POWERLESSNESS you feel when this is the life you are living. You are forced to watch your world fall apart, your dreams die, and you are so powerless to do anything to prevent everything that happens and continues to happen as everything becomes worse than the day before. You loose your dignity, your friends, your voice and sense of self. My intention is to vlog as much as possible, to document the ongoing decline of my body until the end. We have also opened our home to anyone who is currently dealing with chronic illness to come for group meetings and share their stories along with caregivers and hopefully create a support group, Mary’s Autoimmune Support Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/2400288900230099/?ref=share
I want to dedicate this process to the website Smart Patient, a site that is a forum for patients who can't find any answers from doctors but together find answers from each other. To follow my continuing story you can go to my website www.petitetresorsrescue.com and choose vlog.