In January of this year, after five long years, my wife, Irene, finally finished writing her very first book, “Until Your Prodigal Comes Home – Encouragement Along the Way,” set to be published by Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson/Zondervan. The book will go to press early in the new year and should be available everywhere by the first/second quarter of 2017 – and it is absolutely AMAZING!
One day about a week after Irene finished writing, she told me that she felt “funny” – her hands and arms felt weird, as did the rest of her body. Shortly after that, like a freak accident, my wife completely lost the ability to use her hands and arms – they became like Jello. She began to experience the worst nerve pain she has ever had in her life. Irene was later diagnosed with CRPS – Complex Regional Pain Syndrome – a very painful and debilitating nerve disease.
For the next eight months, Irene remained bedridden – unable to work, unable to do the simplest of functions. We had to feed her, bathe her, and wash her hair. She was totally reliant on her family for everything – including blowing her nose or scratching an itch.
This past Easter Sunday, the disease was at its worst. When Irene awoke, she couldn’t stop crying from the pain as she asked me to drop her off at Yale Hospital and leave her there to die. That was the lowest point for me as well – I was wiped out emotionally and physically. Not only did I need to take care of my wife, but my family was relying on me to provide for them and be the “strong” one.
On top of all this, Irene tragically slipped in the bathroom and broke her wrist – it looked like a broken bird’s wing, her hand literally attached only by the skin and tendons lying in an unnatural position. She was rushed by ambulance to the hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery to re-attach her hand to her arm with plates and screws (albeit pink and purple – my wife loves to be fashionable!). This was the worst thing that could happen to someone with CRPS – it could have possibly made Irene’s already painful and unbearable condition even worse.
After much research, we were able to find a specialist in Connecticut who treats patients with CRPS and has been successful in bringing the condition to FULL REMISSION for many. We believed he was the hope we were praying to the Lord for all along.
Irene began an intensive and expensive two-week regimen of daily intravenous infusions – four hours at a clip – of a drug called Ketamine. The purpose of the treatment was to pump her body full of this unconventional drug – an anesthetic – which would completely numb her and “shut down” her nervous system. Then she would go “cold turkey” without the drug as her nervous system naturally “reset” itself. Theoretically, it sounded good, and we were hopeful – YET INCREDIBLY AND MIRACULOUSLY – and $76,000 later, IT WORKED!
Ten months later, by God’s mercy and grace, Irene is now in FULL REMISSION – PRAISE THE LORD!! Her doctor/specialist now calls Mrs. Bennett his “Poster Child” for people with CRPS!
As many of you may know, when a family member is horribly ill or bedridden, it affects the psyche of THE ENTIRE FAMILY. I can’t tell you how much more I appreciate caregivers now!
While we do have insurance, we have a HUGE medical debt left from Irene’s year of trials – and we have no way to pay it. As a family of five, we are literally living on a shoestring budget. The ministry pays our medical bills – when there is money – but right now, there is none. We have about $17,000 in medical bills, a portion of which has already gone to collection. If you in any way feel led to help contribute toward or underwrite Irene’s medical expenses, we would be forever grateful! Simply make your tax-deductible gift to SBM Worldwide and write “MEDICAL” in the memo section. We can’t thank you enough! Log on to www.SBMWorldwide.com for updates on Irene.
*04/30/2018 UPDATE: A very sincere thank you and God bless you to all who prayed for Irene and our family, for all the cards and e-mails that were sent, and for those who graciously and sacrifically gave to the ministry toward Irene’s medical expenses. I am so thrilled and grateful to say as of May 4, 2018, Irene’s final bill will be paid and we will mark this chapter in Irene’s life as CLOSED and PAID IN FULL!! Thank You Lord – and thank YOU SBM MINISTRY PARTNERS & FRIENDS! We love and appreciate you all SO MUCH! ~ Stephen Bennett, Founder & President, SBM Worldwide, Inc. & www.TheParentsGroup.com