- Published on Tuesday, 23 April 2013 22:51
- Written by Super User
(L-R): Erika, Lee Anne & Christian Heitmann.
Tragedy can strike at any time, though none of us expect it. But when it strikes twice in one family, it is almost unthinkable. A single mom in Carolina Beach – Lee Anne Heitman – knows firsthand about tragedy. Just five years ago she was working a full time job, had just purchased a new home, and spent time with her children. They felt like their dreams had come true; riding bikes, swimming, and school were the norm. Life was simple.
Today their “normal” is much different. Four years ago her son, Christian, had an intracranial bleed and in an instant their lives were forever changed. He was air lifted to Duke University Medical Center where emergency brain surgery was performed. He required numerous hospitalizations and home care. Because of repercussions from the surgery, Lee Anne could no longer work and lost her home to foreclosure. Two years later, Christian developed pilonidal cyst disease which has required multiple surgeries and continued home care.
Then came the unthinkable; her 13 year old daughter, Erika, began complaining of back pain. The X-rays revealed scoliosis and kyphosis. The MRI showed a thoracic stress fracture.
There was a ripple effect; her right shoulder started dislocating several times a day and other joints soon became affected. It went from her right shoulder to the left, then to her hips, and eventually led to a final diagnosis of a degenerative, incurable, genetic connective tissue disorder – Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). Erika is now in chronic pain and uses a wheelchair. Pain management is all the medical community can offer.
Lee Anne and her children will soon be moving into the main house of a duplex which is just two doors away from her parents, George and Hazel Parrish. Christian and Erika will have their own rooms and now Lee Anne will have one too. To help make this space wheelchair accessible the Welcome Home Angel organization (www.welcomehomeangel.com) will put in a lift plus modify the plumbing and bathroom. In addition, they will redo the children’s rooms to make them into enjoyable and functional places to spend time. St. Paul’s UMC of Carolina Beach will be hosting a variety of fundraisers over the next several months to raise money for more home improvements for the Heitman family and to assist with ongoing expenses. Monies will go toward window unit air conditioners, kitchen floor replacement, a stackable washer and dryer, further plumbing modifications, mold remediation, and other household items. In addition, St. Paul’s would like to assist in transportation costs to Chapel Hill for pain management appointments, counselor appointments and other doctor appointments.
It is impossible to raise enough money for a cure - that does not exist for either of the children - but our community can help to make their surroundings functional, accessible and attractive plus help to alleviate some of the financial worries of their day to day living. Please plan to join us during our fundraising events throughout the spring and summer. Visit our website, www.stpaulscb.org for more information as these events are scheduled.