Rachel was an outgoing, busy freshman in high school when she suddenly developed flu-like symptoms that worsened every day. Rachel had extreme fatigue, constant fevers, blurred vision, brain fog and was prone to passing out.
Her mother Tami took her from doctor to doctor, but no one seemed to know what was wrong with her. Rachel spent the next three years being home schooled. Tami began to keep Rachel’s medical history, test results, scans, and notes from all of the doctors in a large blue binder that she carried from appointment to appointment.
“Most of the doctors wouldn’t even open the notebook,” Tami recalls. “They told me they’re the medical experts and they would run their own tests.”
A doctor diagnosed Rachel with dysautonomia, a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system, but she continued to get worse. “There is nothing more we can do for her. This is how it is going to be for her.” Disparaging words no parent should ever hear. Tami and her husband Kevin weren’t going to give up hope.
Five years, six hospitals and twenty-one doctors later, Kevin found Dr. David S. Cannom, Director of Cardiology, at Good Sam.
Rachel and her family went to see Dr. Cannom on a Friday afternoon. Dr. Cannom asked if he could keep and review the big blue binder. With some hesitation, Tami gave it to him. “It felt like giving away the family bible.”
That Sunday, Dr. Cannom called the Kirby’s at home. “I think I figured out what else is going on with Rachel.” In addition to the dysautonomia, Dr. Cannom diagnosed Rachel with a condition called mastocytosis.
"It was clear from the very first moment Dr. Cannom really cared about me and not just my disease,” recalls Rachel.
Tami is forever grateful for the care Rachel received. “Dr. Cannom is an amazing doctor and person. He genuinely listened. Andy and the rest of Dr. Cannom’s team are incredible people.”
Through diet, exercise and a personalized treatment plan, Rachel is emotionally, mentally and physically healthy. “Rachel is doing fantastic and leads a normal life,” says Tami. She returned to high school and went on to graduate with her classmates.