Dr. Eric Easey
A Year to Remember
This has been a year of milestones, new challenges, and some not so happy surprises. There were many bittersweet moments and perhaps most of all there were times that we had much for which to be thankful.
Since last I wrote, I have really been able to embrace being in the new hospital for my training. Not only is the next level of residency been challenging as more responsibility has been given to me, there has been a great deal of growth as I have had to really delve into the disease processes I have come across in order to best serve my patients. I have had some lower points where I have had to give bad news to patients about cancer and other life altering illnesses, I have had to transfer some very ill children, and I have had to sign a few death certificates, but with all of the lows that come with being a doctor in a sin sick world, there have also been glorious bursts of sunlight through the dark skies. I have delivered several babies, helped a college student get back to the books, and I have aided several patients in kicking the habit of tobacco use, though they definitely deserve the lion’s share of the credit.
In addition to the challenges at work, we have had a significant, emotionally trying experience at home. Last year Maidellyn had to have surgery because of an ovarian tumor, this year, Jeremiah began having pain in his hips that was causing him to limp. Of course, at first we dismissed it as pain from exerting himself too much during the 5K he ran on Labor Day, how we wish that was all it was. Unfortunately after weeks of conservative therapy with ice and heat and topical pain medication, we sought out answers as to why our very energetic child was not able to run and play as usual. The visits to doctor’s offices, physical therapy, and imaging centers became overwhelming, and words like Leukemia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and many others were tossed around as “things we need to rule out”. After two MRIs, a bone marrow biopsy, and a visit to the pediatric rheumatologist, Jeremiah was diagnosed with Idiopathic Juvenile Arthritis (most likely a form called Enthesitis Arthritis which involves inflammation of the ligaments, tendons, and joint capsules surrounding his joints.)
I am pleased to report that after five weeks of medical treatment, he is running and playing almost like he did before this whole ordeal began. My wife and I cannot begin to thank Ness County for the overwhelming support we have received in the form of cards, well wishes, and prayers for our son. I have never hidden the fact that we are a family of faith and we very much believe that all of your prayers were answered. Thank you!
With the diagnosis found, treatment began just as we experienced our second autumn here in the Carolinas. This year we had the opportunity to travel to the mountains on a bright day where the hills looked to be on fire with the oranges and reds from the maple and oak trees in the foothills of the Appalachians. We had a full house for Thanksgiving with all of Maidellyn’s side of the family staying with us for the holiday. It is always nice to see family, but at times having all of them inside because of wet weather can be a bit much.
As the calendar year comes to a close, so too does the end of the first half of residency. As of January 1, 2019 our family will be 18 months away from heading back to Kansas! It has been a relatively bumpy road that we have climbed to make it this far, we are hoping and praying for a smoother ride as we approach the finish line.
Again, we all appreciate your prayers and your support while we are so far away. You are all in our prayers as well and we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!
The Easey Family
“Just a little update, after about 10 days of taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine, Jeremiah is getting much better. He is not limping as much and he is able to walk and hike with little rest or pain. We have another 25 weeks of this regimen. I thought you would like to hear that he is improving.”
Thank you so much Curt. We are doing well over all. Please express our gratitude to the hospital staff for the card sent to the family. We truly appreciated it, especially Jeremiah as it encouraged him that many people are praying for him.
Update on Jeremiah;
I know you have all been patiently waiting for the results of Jeremiah's tests and his visit from the rheumatologist. After the appointment with the rheumatologist Jeremiah needed another MRI to determine whether or not this issue was due to a subset of autoimmune arthropathies which include psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, reactive arthritis and enthisitis arthritis. The MRI was completed earlier this week and the results were called back to us later that day.
Jeremiah has been diagnosed with some form of juvenile idiopathic arthritis unfortunately at this point it is not definitively psoriatic or enthisitis arthritis. These illnesses effect the soft tissues around the joint such as the ligaments, tendons and bursae. The next step in this process is to begin treatment with NSAIDs for the next several months. Depending on his response to the therapy there may be a need to add other medicines in to help prevent his immune system from attacking his body.
We are very grateful and blessed to have all of you praying for Jeremiah and all of our family as we make some significant changes in diet in order to most effectively treat Jeremiah for arthritis. There is a long road of treatment (1 to 5 years until remission), and repeat testing, thank you all for being part of the journey.
Jeremiah's results from the bone marrow biopsy came back showing no sign of malignancy. Also, they are certain they got a portion of the marrow that was involved because they saw the edema within the bone structure. After further consideration the oncologist was reasonably sure that there was no malignancy. To make sure there was not some other part of his body that was more involved than his hip, the doctor ordered a bone scan. His bone scan was done yesterday and the results came back showing no other focal abnormality besides the left hip. While the tests do not point to cancer, the tests are not normal. The bone marrow biopsy showed that Jeremiah has twice the number of plasma cells than a normal person would have in their bone marrow. These plasma cells while increased in number do not show any abnormalities within them. The cause of this increase in plasma cells is not clear at this time. The oncologist has consulted a rheumatologist and has ordered all of the preliminary testing that Jeremiah would need to get prior to having answers from a rheumatologist. These labs will be drawn today and the results should be back by early next week (more specialized tests take more time to come back). Once the results are back, Jeremiah will be scheduled to see the rheumatologist and hopefully we will be one step closer to an answer. Thank you all for your continued prayers. We will give you another update after we see the rheumatologist. God bless you all!
Jeremiah made it through the bone marrow biopsy, it will be 3-5 days for the results to come in. Other lab work is again reassuring that it is less likely a malignancy, but even if these biopsy results do not show malignancy, he will need at least one other biopsy and possible a bone scan to rule it out completely. Thank you all for your prayers. I will provide an update when the results come in.
Update: the lab results from all the blood work is somewhat encouraging but in no way conclusive. Jeremiah has inflammatory markers in his blood, but nothing that overtly showing that he has cancer. Tomorrow he has an appointment with the pediatric hematology and oncology office in Greenville and they will be completing a bone marrow biopsy with possible lymph node biopsy. The tests from these two sources should definitively say whether or not this is cancer, unfortunately all results will take 5-7 days to come back. Please pray for healing, for there to be no cancer, and for Jeremiah to do well after the biopsy as it can be painful for several days afterward. Lastly, I ask that So You would pray for all of us as this has been a big emotional rollercoaster for the last several days and there has been stress and sadness that have been quite deflating at times.
We love you all and thank you for your prayers and support.
Dear friends, it has been about a year since I have had to call upon you for prayers regarding a health matter in our family. Last year it was Maidellyn who had a tumor that needed to be removed, this year it is Jeremiah who needs your prayers.
Some of you may know Jeremiah has had a history of having joint pain, since moving to south carolina, and being more active his pain has been more frequent. The most recent issue has been pain in his left hip and rear end. This pain began while he was preparing for a 5K run, but since the run it has worsened. He has had x-rays, been sent to physical therapy, and has been evaluated for chiropractic adjustment. After still having pain, he was given an MRI. The images revealed something that is abnormal. We do not have a diagnosis yet, but the radiologist believed that the finding were suggestive of a chronic inflammatory disease but could also be a rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, or even a cancer that is affecting his bone marrow. Over the next few weeks he is going to be seeing many physicians, possibly having a bone marrow biopsy, or even surgery. I am asking all of you to pray for the Great Physician to be guiding our path and for His Comforter to touch each of us as we are struggling to give this whole situation to God.
Thank you all in advance for your prayers. I will periodically give updates to you through text message to let you know how God is carrying us through this challenge.
A New Journey
The time has finally arrived and I have completed my intern year! With completion of my intern year comes the added responsibility of a higher patient volume and more autonomy, but the perks of no longer having a 45 minute drive added to the beginning and ending of each work day. I am now no more than 7 minutes from my house at any given time with very few exceptions. This has allowed for a great deal of added time together as a family.
Maidellyn, Azariah, and Jeremiah have all been thrilled with the change. I have been able to be home almost every evening for supper and to tuck the boys in at night. Also, there have been times I have been able to get a short break from work and go home for lunch which is a treat for everyone. Nothing against the food at the hospital, but nothing quite beats home cooking!
The boys hit a mile stone this month as they have reached their 12th birthday, starting their last year before becoming teenagers! Just like most boys their age they continue to grow taller, stronger, and are becoming more like young men and less like boys. They also have begun to really talk a lot about driving and they have been fantasizing about cars they want to drive…no matter how often I tell them how unlikely it is, they are still convinced that they want to drive Corvettes and Porsches. When they start talking that way, I gently remind them that they will likely be driving the current family minivan once it has been replaced by a newer model.
Maidellyn has also celebrated a birthday this month and she had a big surprise when her family came up to visit her. All of her sisters, nieces, nephew, and both of her parents were able to make the drive and spend the entire weekend with her and the boys celebrating her big day. Unfortunately, I was not around to celebrate her birthday with her in person because I was completing my annual training with the Air National Guard, but while I was missed, she had a great time.
We also all had the opportunity to run in a local 5K to support intervention training to help those who witness or suspect domestic or dating violence. The race was for a good cause and it was a great experience to complete this as a family. Maidellyn came in first for her bracket and the boys got 3rd and 4th place in theirs! I got 5th place, but it was a great experience for us all.
Over the last few months I have applied for and received my permanent license from South Carolina and with that the opportunity to branch out to getting the license for other states as well, soon to be Kansas! The license has also allowed me to advance my position in the Air National Guard allowing me to become a fully qualified flight surgeon. This simply means that if there is a need I can rise to the occasion and deploy as a physician.
We continue to appreciate the support of the Ness County Community and we look forward to moving back home and joining the community in person. Thank you to Curt Thomas and the board in keeping me in the loop with the changes in the plans for the clinic expansion and a special thanks to Dr. Imseis for his help understanding more about how he handles the balance between clinic and hospital in Ness City.
Blessings you and yours!
The Easey Family
The Easeys’ Home Stretch
I hope that this update finds everyone in Ness County to be well and hopefully by now essentially recovered from what amount of the flu epidemic you had back home. Here in the Easey household we were able to all share in the nasty viruses going around. I was the first to get ill back in early January. Both Azariah and Jeremiah had what I believe was Adenovirus in late February and Maidellyn, the most resilient of us all, lasted until the beginning of March to share in the misery of the sickness, but only after she had two weeks straight of taking care of sick children while I was away at work. Thankfully, the illnesses have been cleansed from our home and we are all currently enjoying good health.
The winter of upstate South Carolina is remarkably mild. I am sure, by what I have seen on social media and in the news, that Ness City has had a significantly colder and whiter winter than we have had. Though we did get snow a few times, there was only one time that it was really worth going out to play in it. That isn’t to say that we weren’t able to find some snow to have fun with, in fact the boys and I were able to take a brief trip to North Carolina where the snow was much more abundant and had some great fun!
In late January, it was time take the Step 3 exam, which is the final test needed to qualify a young doctor to receive an unrestricted license. After some intense studying, and two full days of testing I was told it would be 8 weeks until my test results would be in. Thankfully it was only about 6 weeks and I received the great news that I had passed! Now the only thing between me and the unrestricted license is two more months of my Intern year. Once I have my South Carolina license I will be applying for my Kansas license as well.
Our hearts are still yearning for the Spring that Kansas affords. While we don’t necessarily miss the hail storms and risks of bad storms, we do miss the daffodils and tulips that we have seen for the past 8 springs. Maidellyn misses gardening in the Kansas soil as the red clay of South Carolina is much hard and requires much more work to get the crops she likes to grow in the garden. Only time will tell if her thumb is as green here as it has been in Kansas.
Originally I was slotted to be back in Kansas for two weeks with the Kansas Air National Guard in July, unfortunately my training has been postponed and I have been told I will be going to Iowa for a field hospital exercise instead. While I am disappointed that I will not be going to Kansas, it will be good to see some friendly Kansas faces who will be in Iowa with me for the training.
As always, our entire family is praying for the Ness County communities, the hospital, and the crops, and we all look forward to being out there in just a few short years. Thank you all for your kindness, support, and encouragement. We would not be able to do this without the knowledge that there are so many wonderful people waiting for us back home!
The Easeys – An Autumn to Remember 12/3/2017
Greetings Ness City! When I was a kid I remember putting together dozens of puzzles depicting the reds, oranges, and yellows of autumn from the picturesque land and seascapes of the east coast. I often fancied myself settling down in the Appalachians when I was a teenager, but that was before I found myself on a property with numerous deciduous trees. Needless to say, a considerable amount of free time in the Easey household has been spent raking leaves and dragging tarps full of them to the side of the road. While I am fond of the shade provided during the summer, after seeing so many leaves land on the ground in one night I am rethinking the wisdom of having so many trees in the yard!
Our first family autumn in South Carolina has been beautiful to look at, but the first part of the fall came with some personal challenges for our family. When you go into the field of medicine you intend on serving others and doing your best to treat and/or cure their ailments, unfortunately working in the field does not make us, or those we love immune to sickness and disease. In early October, Maidellyn had some imaging done because she had some concerning symptoms. More focused imaging tests revealed that she had a pelvic mass estimated to be about 5 inches in diameter. Due to the way it looked on the MRI and on US it was difficult to say whether or not this mass was possibly cancer. Honestly, if you knew you had a large tumor inside of you, regardless of what the images say it is, you are going to want it out of you!
Thankfully, and divinely providential, the discovery of the mass happened during a relatively light rotation for me and during a time where I had already scheduled some time off. In the matter of 10 days we went from ignorance of her tumor to her having surgery. The staff and physicians at the offices and hospital were great and we felt well cared for during the whole process. The operation was completed without complication and the tumor was identified as being totally benign. The surgery was curative, but not painless, but Maidellyn has healed well over the past two months.
The boys have fancied themselves to be handymen as we continue to fine tune things on our home. Thankfully the nightmares of feeling trapped in an episode of “This Old House” have subsided, but with any home there is always something that could be improved upon. Changing out airfilters, drain pipes, installing insulation, replacing some water damaged paneling, and painting some bare wood have just been some of the projects that they have been helping me finish. This is addition to the conscripted labor they provide raking the yard. Though they are growing and becoming more like men each day, they are not too old to enjoy raking the leaves into a pile just so they can experience jumping into them.
Thanksgiving was a holiday that we were able to enjoy with some of our family. We had Maidellyn’s parents and her eldest sister with her family up for the long weekend. It was a great time to look back on the year and to express our thanks to each other for having them in our lives and to give thanks to God for His mercy throughout this whole year. I am grateful for and humbled by all of the words of encouragement and support my family and I have received from Curt Thomas and the rest of the hospital board. Our family continues to have a yearning to be out in Ness City and to be back in Kansas.
Our time here has proven the old adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder. John Denver had a song about Kansas with a refrain of “Yes, and joy was just a thing that he was raised on, love was just a way to live and die. Gold was just a windy Kansas wheat field, blue was just the Kansas summer sky.”, but I think his song “Country Roads” had a better opening line which I think would suit Kansas just fine, “Almost Heaven”
Though we are only 6 months into residency, and not even at Christmas yet, I prefer to think of it as just 2 and a half more years until we get to come home.
Know that if you don’t hear from us before the new year, we are very much thinking of you all out in Ness County and we all hope and pray you have a warm, safe, and Merry Christmas filled with family and friends, and a Happy New Year!
Blessings to you and yours from the Easey Family!
The Easeys – The Move and More 9/13/2017
We were filled with a great sadness as we packed the moving truck and started our journey to South Carolina. Saying good-bye to our friends, our home, and closing one chapter in our lives was made tolerable only by the consolation that in just a little while we would be returning to Kansas, a.k.a. God’s Country, and coming home to Ness City. Even with all of the heartache we were experiencing, we were all at least a little excited to see what awaited us in the next chapter of our lives.
With the truck packed and the minivan ready to go, we set out as a two vehicle convoy toward Seneca, SC, the place we would be calling home for our three year sojourn. When we first arrived, the house needed quite a bit of work, most of which we knew about, but the house had some secrets, not the least of which was that we would need to redo two of the showers. Thankfully, with the help of Maidellyn, her parents, the boys (Azariah and Jeremiah) we were able to replace the flooring, renovate the bathrooms, paint/waterproof the basement, and install multiple ceiling fans in just three weeks! With all of that work behind us, our house really began to feel like a home, just in time for me to start work at the residency.
I was excited and a little nervous as I began my first rotation as an intern, but as I became more acquainted with my fellow interns and the upper level residents, it was very apparent that we all wanted to get the most out of our training. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of interns to be working with, and after only a few days, we all got in the rhythm that was needed to be able to learn from and teach one another. The give-and-take learning environment has really helped hone my medical knowledge and improve my skillset. Though the hours are long and the work is often times tedious, mostly due to the redundant documentation, I can honestly say that I have never felt better suited for any career than I do working as a physician.
While I have been busy working at the residency, Maidellyn has been even busier getting settled into her routine in South Carolina. With a new state comes new rules for homeschooling, and with a new house comes a learning curve for the eccentricities of a new oven. She has really been a blessing to me as I have had little time to help out with the chores at home, but being the master at delegating that she is, she has put several new responsibilities on the boys and they have both stepped up to the challenge.
While I do not get much time off, when I do have time off, those days are a balance of trying to get some smaller projects done around the house and spending time together as a family. Our love for nature and the outdoors has been the driving force behind the many discoveries we have made here in South Carolina. We all agree though, that while SC does have several trails with waterfalls, we all miss seeing the sunsets of Kansas, where you can see the setting sun kiss the wheat fields in the summer or watch as it ducks below the corn stalks in the fall.
We are all looking forward to coming home in the not too distant future and we are very grateful for the well wishes and support we have received from the hospital and the folks in and around Ness City. We are very excited about the opportunities waiting for us out there and look forward to becoming part of the community. We are praying for all of you out there and thank God every day for our home in Kansas!
Blessing to you all!
In May of this year the NCH Board of Directors signed an agreement with Dr. Eric Easey to practice medicine in Ness City when he finishes his Family Medicine Residency the summer of 2020. We are so pleased to have Dr. Easey and his family join us in 3 years!
From the very beginning of conversations with Dr. Easey in July of 2016, I thought he was someone special. When Shelly McDonald, HR Director, and I had lunch with Dr. Easey, we were quite sure he was special. Obviously anyone in medical school is going to impress us with their scholarly abilities. Of course Dr. Easey is impressive in that regard. But he also impressed us with his heart--he was so warm, so sincere, and so relatable. Then in December when we met his wife, Maidellyn, and their twin sons, Azariah and Jeremiah who were 10 at the time, we KNEW they were a special family who would bless Ness City and be blessed by us.
That is why in April of this year when Dr. Eric said they were coming to Ness City when he finishes residency, I could hardly contain myself. As a matter of fact, I didn't! I was so thrilled! I am still so thrilled whenever I think of their coming here in 3 years!
Just some quick highlights of Dr. Easey's background. Dr. Easey has an M.B.A. in Healthcare Administration & Finance; he wrote his Senior Thesis at the University of South Florida-Tampa on "The Development of True Christianity in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church"; he is a Captain in the Air National Guard; he received the Brigadier General Wagner Team Builder Award; he received the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; he was an 8th grade science teacher; he was on Labette County Big Brothers and Big Sisters Board of Trustees; and he enjoys repairing classical and baroque stringed instruments. You can see he has a lot of interests.
I know that they will feel right at home when they get to Ness City permanently!
Curt Thomas, CEO