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This fundraiser ended on 12/31/10

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This site is a collaborative effort by friends and family to help with Kara’s medical expenses for her deadly latex allergy.

I wanted to be a Pediatric nurse ever since I was a young girl and when that dream came true, I loved it. It was the most rewarding job I ever had. The job was as hard as it was demanding. It was fast paced and very emotional at times. These were very sick young children who we always came to love. I worked with who I considered to be some of the kindest nurses in the hospital, I was proud to work among them. I keep my RN license current in the hopes that someday, somehow I may return to work.

I started work on the Pediatrics floor at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara in mid 1998. I then married my husband Walter Peterson on June 24th 2000, and my life was full of joy. Just months after being married, Walter picked me up from the Cottage Hospital Emergency Room on Dec 28th 2000 after a night shift. That was to be my last day at work, ever. The emergency room doctor recognized my symptoms immediately and my husband and I didn’t even understand the gravity of it for another month or two. It was like a nightmare, I’m disabled! I can’t work! My entire family & I were all crushed.

We looked back at what had happened and realized that I had misunderstood the warning signs that started only about 6 months prior. The hand rashes I was getting from the latex gloves, foot rashes from the latex in my shoes, new asthma symptoms, and full body hives. With me the severity of these symptoms progressed very rapidly and went systemic much faster than the typical latex allergic individual. I honestly think because it did progress so fast I had a hard time seeing latex as the only cause.

This allergy has of course changed my life drastically in so many ways. The rubber plant is what they milk to make latex, and I am actually allergic to one of the proteins in the plant. However most plants have a similar protein and therefore I am allergic to them as well. They are also some of the building blocks, to many plants and trees. That includes a huge variety of foods, fruits and vegetables. So simply eating the wrong food could kill me.

So here we are 10 years later, and I should have or could have, died from repeated bouts of anaphylactic shock. I’m on my second service dog “Spirit” who alerts me before I have any symptoms, that I’m going down again. We’ve been doing research to no-avail. Several years back we went to UCLA Medical center looking for help, but we only got little pieces of the puzzle and no solid answers about a cure or treatment for this problem.

We’ve recently met a brilliant relatively young doctor who has ties to the Mayo clinic in Rochester Minnesota. He is canvassing them for a doctor for me to see. Well we’re excited but concerned about getting there & the cost of evaluation & possible treatment. You see, I worked 2 months shy of qualifying for State Disability or Social Security benefits. (Another story for another time) so we’re quite short on cash for a trip to any major clinic. Money for travel & Money for medical expenses, these are the two things we could really use help with. Flying commercial is way too dangerous for me, as they often use latex gloves going through security.

This condition has put some perspective in my life. When you are constantly faced with real life threatening situations you quickly learn what is the most important in your life. For me it has shown me how really blessed I am! My husband Walter married me just before I got ill. He is still here struggling from this illness as well as I am, and he is still by my side. That is love! I have a son Kameron Reif who will be 22 this month and I could never be more proud to be his mom! Kameron is my only child. I have seen him once in the past year, as he is on active duty as a United States Marine. I have a great support group with my family, parents, brother and a sister, each has given me lots of little nieces and nephews to love! I have wonderful in-laws as well. This constant fear of death has made me realize how blessed I really am and what a fighter I am. I have to fight to breathe so often, and that will never stop. Life is hard, yet it also such a joy. I love to hear the birds singing in the morning, looking at beautiful flowers, I love nice sunny days, I love animals and all my pets, and I love to laugh! I love Spirit who is not just an adorable dog filled with pure joy, but she gives me independence as well as keeps me alive!

I think the severity of my illness has already been told in the Santa Barbara News Press. It is painful when your airway shuts down, tiring, constant, and I will never give up on myself, or my family. I am hoping to see grandkids someday! I love life, I want to live. I have been told about this allergist I should see, and I need to find a way to get there. This is why I need to ask for help. I need help to get to a specialist that may have answers and give me a chance, and hope. I have new blood work results that will give them something new to work on and hopefully get some results. If there is a way for me to get better I want it, I don’t want to just stay alive, however I will take that, my goal is that I want to live again!

Kara Peterson

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