The call came last Friday, but it wasn't the one that 14-year-old Rachel Brister and her family were hoping to get.
Their insurance company, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, for the second time denied coverage of operations that Rachel's doctor wants to perform to help her live a more normal life without debilitating pain and constant threat of dangerous seizures.
Rachel has been diagnosed with basilar migraine with epileptic seizure syndrome, a rare combination. She suffers from severe migraines that usually, but not always, signal the onset of an epileptic seizure. In addition to falling and hurting herself, Rachel faces a risk of stroke and aneurysm.
Her pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Stephen Linder, wants to perform two operations, one temporary and the other permanent, that involves equipping Rachel with a neurostimulator. The temporary one will cost an estimated $13,000 and the permanent one will cost $65,000.
The LDL Educational Resource Foundation has offered to pay for the first surgery. A recent benefit held at the Somervell County Citizens Center raised $5,384 to help.
The Glen Rose Antique Tractor Club also plans to auction a red utility trailer at its tractor pull on July 16 to help raise money for Rachel's surgery. Raffle tickets are $5 each or five for $20.
Also, a Washburn acoustic guitar with a hard case, donated by Glen Rose Music, will be raffled. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5.
Drawings will be held at the tractor pull event.
For ticket sale information, call Karen Davenport at 254-897-3777 or 817-964-5129.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield representatives told the family the insurer needs proof that the second operation will show improvement of at least 50 percent for Rachel's condition, her mother, Penny Brister, said. They may have to go to Austin, along with their carrier, the Teacher Retirement System, to make a presentation to Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
Meanwhile, Rachel has contracted an infection and is having memory problems, Penny said. Time is of the essence. The surgeon wants to perform the first operation this month.
The community response had been “unbelievable,” Penny, a music teacher at Glen Rose Intermediate School, added. In addition to friends and fellow school bus drivers Karen Davenport, Tammy Gomez and Yvette Whatley, the Bristers would like to thank Hammonds' BBQ, Ranch House BBQ, Juliany's, Glen Rose Music, Glen Rose Antique Tractor Club, Lloyd Wirt, Rick Wilson and everyone who donated his or her time.
“We are so grateful for what everybody's done,” Penny said. “We are putting everything aside until we can see what we can do. Rachel is getting worse and we have to do something.”
If you would like to contribute to Rachel's fund, please call Penny at 682-936-2506 or Davenport at the numbers above.