Latest update as of Dec 12, 2023

  • 6 weeks post op

    Saw my neurosurgeon yesterday the 11th. He ordered PT for me 4 times per week, less driving, and when I told him I had a new job starting today he said “absolutely not”. He doesn’t want me back to work for a few more months. Still waiting on SSDI to agree with him!

    I was excited about the job I had procured but doctors orders.

    Still having a lot of pain in my neck and shoulders but my doctor said that is normal while things heal. My bones won’t regenerate and fuse for at least 7 months maybe longer…there goes my new bungee jumping career…LOL.

    Right now I’m waiting and hoping and praying my disability gets approved soon so I can probably heal without financial stress.

    Thank you all again for donating! I wouldn’t be where I am without y’all!!

    Happy Holidays!

About this fundraiser

In 2009 my dear friend Jen Schaefer was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis  (RA), an auto immune disease that runs in her family.  After being on disability for several years, she decided to fight back and in  2015 began her career in mental health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jen was on the front line as a crisis counselor for children and adults. In late 2020 she began to have severe pain in her neck and back that radiated down her arms and legs. She thought it was stress from life events, but as the pain got worse her hands and feet began to go numb.  An MRI of her spine in March 2023, showed she had multiple severe cervical and lumbar spondylosis and spinal/foraminal stenosis. Her neck bone is straight instead of curved causing severe pain due to the weight of her head and the neck not being “equipped” to support it.

Jen was referred to Dr. Williams at Great Lakes Neurological Associates in Grand Rapids and he determined the neck was the most severe and needed to be operated on soon as possible. The surgery is scheduled for May 10. For the operation to be successful, the surgeon must go through Jen’s throat to remove two discs that are pressing on her spinal cord.  They are replaced with a graft along with a titanium plate and screws. As you can imagine, the recovery is extensive and Jen will be in a neck brace for 6 to 8 weeks before physical therapy. The goal is to relieve the pressure and pain so that extensive surgery on the rest of her spine will not be necessary.

Due to the severe pain, Jen has not been working.  Her doctors informed her that she will not be able to work at this time and may never be able to. She is currently using a cane, sometimes a walker and standing for a few minutes is very painful. Typing, holding a phone and driving are extremely tough due to pain and weakness in her hands and arms caused by the pressure on her spinal cord.

Now, let’s talk about Jen. She is a doting mother to her wonderful rescue fur baby Manny. She is fiercely independent. She brings home the bacon, fries it up in a pan and cleans the dishes after!  (You get my drift).  When she goes through a tough time, she comes out stronger on the other side. She never asks for help and always there to help others. She gave up a successful career in Hollywood to be a mental health professional working with those in crisis. She needs our help now and is facing a very long recovery process. As you know, falling behind on bills can happen quickly when you’re faced with medical expenses and unable to work. But not just medical expenses, we’re talking about every day expenses: food, rent, electricity, gas, water, insurance, and the list goes on.  With mounting bills come stress and that’s the last thing anyone needs when going through a health crisis.

Jen has applied for disability, which could take up to six months for approval. So, anything you can do to help my dear friend would be greatly appreciated. Any donations and all donations are welcome.

If you personally know Jen, you know she’s a very independent woman, has never been married, and never had children. So think of this donation as an engagement, wedding, bridal shower, baby shower gift.  Because this is the most important gift of them all, the gift of health, peace of mind and love. Thank you so much!

UPDATE:  I had my surgery on 10/24/23. What started out as a partial C5 & C6 Corpectomy = removal of damaged vertebrae and intervertebral disc (the “cushion” between the bones of the spine), turned into a full Corpectomy and fusion for C4-C7. I spent 5 hours on the table and two nights/three days in the ICU. I can already feel and see the difference! Each day I get stronger!! Neck Brace stays on for another 2 weeks. I also got COVID in the middle of all of this. Thankfully I am staying with family. I can tell this will be a new lease on life!! ♥️

Organized by

Jennifer Schaefer

Midland, MI, USA