Katharyn Rentzell

Heart & Stomach Problems

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Katharyn Rentzell's Bio

My name is Katharyn.   I’m a Momma to three boys, wife of a firefighter and previously worked as a Registered Nurse.   In the spring of 2012 after years of stomach and heart problems, I had heart surgery at Johns Hopkins.  About two weeks later I was also diagnosed with Gastroparesis.   In the fall of 2012, I had a gastric pacemaker implanted, which helps my stomach to digest my food, but for the past 5 years I have received most of my nutrition, hydration, and medications through IV infusion therapy via a mediport implanted in my chest.  It took awhile, but I learned to adapt to life with its new challenges.

Then in July 2017,  I developed a severe blood stream infection that attacked my heart, brain, and other major organs. I had emergency open heart surgery to clean out the infection and repair my heart valves.   The infected blood cells acted as septic emboli, the same as blood clots would, causing multiple strokes and resulting in cognitive deficits and profound hearing loss.   I will be receiving a cochlear implant to help restore some of my hearing, but it will require much time and therapy to re-learn how to hear & understand sounds via the implant.   I’m also receiving speech therapy to aid to regaining as much of my cognitive skills as possible, as well as cardiac rehab to continue to heal my heart and restore my energy.   I’m trying to get my nutrition balanced better, as I already have osteoporosis & suffer frequent stress fractures in my hips, spine & feet.  I also have dysautonomia, asthma, frequent respiratory infections due to immune deficiencies, migraines and am on oxygen at night for severe central sleep apnea.   My GI recently referred me to be evaluated for Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (vascular type).

It’s been an extreme challenge to transition from the role of the nurse and caretaker to patient.   I’m on the wrong end of the stethoscope now.   It’s been immensely emotionally challenging to be in the hospital so much, away from my husband and sons.   My youngest son suffers from severe Cerebral Palsy, and it’s very difficult for me to care for him because of my own physical weakness and illness, so we’ve tried to be able to make our home as accessible for him as possible, to promote his independence, and alleviate some of the physical labor for me.  Without my income, we’re really struggling to make ends meet, much less fund home renovations.   But through these struggles, our dear family and friends and our church family have been immensely supportive, holding us in prayer, sharing our burden of grief and frustration, and reminding us continually that we remain in God’s steadfast hand.   We trust in His covenant that He will provide for our needs, and we praise Him for His continued mercy and grace.

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