Benefit Saturday to help Fruita mom pay for surgery

A roller coaster of health problems has left Fruita resident Wyn McConkie exhausted and in pain.The 36-year-old mom suffers from chronic migraines and hopes a new, rare procedure can make her the active parent she used to be.


If you go

What: Wyn McConkie Faith Donation Benefit.

When: 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Moose Lodge, 567 25 1/2 Road, Grand Junction.

How to make a donation: A fund has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank called the Wyn McConkie Faith Donation Fund. Mark checks “for deposit only.”

A roller coaster of health problems has left Fruita resident Wyn McConkie exhausted and in pain.

The 36-year-old mom suffers from chronic migraines and hopes a new, rare procedure can make her the “go, go, go” parent she used to be.

McConkie has a surgery date scheduled for April 20 at The Rose Clinic in Provo, Utah. The clinic’s namesake, Dr. Kevin Rose, is one of a handful of plastic surgeons who performs migraine surgery, a procedure that involves cutting nerves in the head.

The procedure mimics the effects of a procedure also used by a few plastic surgeons that involves injecting Botox into parts of the head and neck to block nerves that contribute to migraine pain. The Botox procedure was approved in 2010 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat chronic migraines, which are severe headaches that occur more than 14 days a month.

McConkie scheduled an appointment with Dr. Rose in February to have the Botox procedure done. She hasn’t felt migraine pain near the injection sites since then. The success of the procedure made her a good candidate for migraine surgery, which gives a more permanent benefit than the Botox procedure, which usually is effective for up to 12 weeks.

The $22,500 price tag for the six-hour surgery is out of reach for her, though, and insurance will not cover the procedure. She’s hosting a fundraiser to pay for the surgery from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Moose Lodge, 567 25 1/2 Road.

McConkie said she has been overwhelmed by the generosity of community members and people from as far away as Louisiana and Alaska who have sent her donations and items for a silent auction that will take place at the benefit. The Moose Lodge will donate the spaghetti, salad, bread and dessert that will be served at the benefit.

McConkie’s mother, Nita Koppenhafer, said she hopes the benefit is enough to help her daughter feel better again.

“It’s hard to watch her go through it, to see her go from being a mom who did everything with her kids to being in bed,” Koppenhafer said.

McConkie’s health problems began when she donated a kidney to a cousin May 4, 2010. McConkie, who says she was rarely sick before that day, developed an infection during her three weeks in the hospital following the surgery. In October of that year, she had to have her gall bladder removed. Shortly after that, she developed painful, frequent migraines. She saw a chiropractor and four neurologists, but none of them could pinpoint the root of her problem.

She tried pain-numbing medications but they left her feeling nauseated and exhausted. She found out she has lesions on her brain, but she is not sure if they are the cause of her headaches, a result of the medication she went on to treat them, or unrelated to any of her health issues. She started having seizures, and her immune system weakened. She decided to leave her “dream job” as a clerk for the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office because she couldn’t drive to work and didn’t want to miss so many days that she may never have a chance of returning to the office once she felt better.

All of the pain medication McConkie tried led to her developing Serotonin Syndrome, which can cause seizures, confusion, irregular heartbeat and other symptoms. The diagnosis almost convinced McConkie to give up on ever hoping she would feel healthy again. That’s when she found Dr. Rose through an online search. Now she’s hoping her difficult journey will come to a happy end.

“I’m excited. I want it done now. I want to be a mom to my kids,” said McConkie, a mother of two and stepmother of two.

Wyn’s husband, David McConkie, also hopes the surgery will be an answer to his wife’s prayers.

“I miss her. That’s why I’m excited to get this done,” he said.


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