Family's love holds strong

Shelly Perkins, a well-loved second-grade teacher at Capital Christian School in Carson City, suffered near-fatal brain bleeding Jan. 13.

The family just finished a spaghetti dinner when Shelly developed a sudden headache, then felt a "pop" at the back of her head. She grabbed her neck and began screaming.

"I carried her to the car and got her to the ER at Carson-Tahoe," Steve said.

"It was like watching an episode of 'ER.' There were people all over the place doing things. Dr. Novak was great. A CT scan was ordered and that's when blood was seen at the base of her brain, but they didn't know why. Then she was Care Flighted to Washoe Med."

At 2 a.m. Tuesday, an angiogram was performed and showed no sign of an aneurysm. Steve said the doctors felt it may have been a burst blood vessel causing the bleeding and swelling of Shelly's brain.

"The pain was so horrific," Shelly said. "I was completely out of it.

"I was in the intensive care unit for seven days. The blood was, and is, still there. Then I spent two days on the neurological floor. That was an experience of its own.

"But the doctors released me, and with medication, believe the blood will dissipate on its own."

Steve said he and Shelly were to spend the upcoming weekend at the Reno Hilton. Shelly was to go bungee jumping.

"Had we gone, the doctor said the jump would have killed her," Steve said.

The family's concern is the cost of Shelly's medical care. The emergency room visit is about $2,800; Washoe Medical Center is about $48,000, and they have yet to receive a bill from Care Flight. The medication, Nimotop, costs $500 per seven-day dose. It reduces brain swelling and removes blood. Shelly is also on steroids.

Shelly has no insurance through her job and Steve missed open enrollment with his employer. He will not be eligible until October, and they are not eligible for Medicaid.

Hearing the news about her son's teacher, Debbie Hagen wanted to do something.

"I went to my pastor, Pat Propster, and asked if there was anything we could do," Hagen said. "The youth group at the church volunteered to help out so we're going to get together and brainstorm.

"Pastor Pat has issued a challenge for all churches to help Shelly's family.

"You never know when this type of situation is going to hit. Your life can be turned upside down in an instant."

Tyler Hagen, 7, said class is just not as fun without Shelly Perkins.

"I miss her," he said.

"This family has blessed the community so much, we hope the community will return the favor," Debbie Hagen said.

"I just can't help myself. Shelly makes every child in her class feel so special. So many people just love this family, maybe they will step forward."

Shelly's co-workers pooled their sick leave and donated it to her -- a total of nine weeks. She hopes to return to work in four. Her motor skills, vision and speech are impaired.

"I can't read either," Shelly said. "It's very frustrating. I can't help my son with his homework -- it's so overwhelming."

Steve and Shelly's sons, Andrew, 16, Konrad, 12, and Chad, 10, admit they were scared. But they continue with daily chores and prayers for Shelly's recovery. The smiles on their faces are of joy and relief.

"I'm happy to see she's doing better," Chad said.


Donations to the Perkins Family may be made through Calvary Chapel, Carson City Christian Fellowship, 1744 Forrest Way, Carson City, NV 89706.


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