Neither Karen’s father nor I remember hearing the word “scleroderma” before her diagnosis. When Karen first told us about it, we were terrified. When we searched the web for more information, “terrified” didn’t come close to describing what we felt. How could this happen? Everything we read ended the same way – with the form of the disease that she had, she would not survive, and the process that would take her from us would be long and more painful than anything we could imagine. Her beautiful face would be distorted, her skin would harden, rheumatoid arthritis would take its toll quickly and her ability to do all the things most people take for granted would be gone. We awoke every morning feeling helpless and angry. We prayed until, I’m sure, God was tired of hearing Karen’s name, but she had no intention of giving in, so there was no way we were going to.
You can’t imagine what we felt when Karen called to tell us she’d found someone who had had scleroderma, was determined to overcome it, and had done so, but her treatment wasn’t traditional. We didn’t have time for skepticism, so we decided that whatever Karen felt most comfortable with was what would be best for all of us. After all, the doctors she had seen gave her no hope at all.
The first chance we had to meet Kim “Dusty’s Leal (Dusty’s Place) we found an intelligent, energetic young woman who, I believed, had the ability to do exactly what she said she had done – beat scleroderma! And she had the medical documents to prove it. She also introduced us to three women she had worked with for a number of months who also had scleroderma and were showing great improvement. We were elated! Karen began treatment in October of 2004. Shortly thereafter we met Angela, the naturopath who works with Kim. We both felt very comfortable that Karen was in their care.
We’ve spent almost every other Sunday with Karen and Scott, and you could see swelling in her hands, ankles, feet and the pain on her face, but never in her attitude. Scott bought a “scooter” to help her get around because the pain was too intense for her to walk any distance at all. She was delighted – I was horrified. I was afraid she was getting worse, but Scott explained that it was just temporary until she got through the treatment. We knew what to expect as Kim and Angela had been very specific about how painful the process would be, but the scooter scared me – until Father’s Day. As we were walking down the long dock to get to the boat, we saw the most beautiful sight. Karen was WALKING down the dock to meet us!