"I made it in the hospital through the bleakest, worst times of my entire life. I was in there for 90 days. I made through 80 of them before they broke me! I just couldn't do it anymore," says Tred.
According to Tred's wife Anni, the last high dose of chemotherapy destroyed his kidneys and some liver function. He suffered major depression. Anni and Tred finally decided it was more important to get his head turned around than anything. So Tred - at long last - returned home. Since then, things have brightened dramatically. His kidneys look like they're responding positively. His most recent blood tests show improvement in his Waldenströms. The local Shaw Cancer Center is trying something new - a milder treatment that can be done at home one day a week for several months, then once a month forever.
Not surprisingly, Tred decided that quality of life is more important than aggressive, big-name, big-city treatment regimens. He just wants to be home. And since he returned, he has gotten his fight back! Certainly, Tred has a long road ahead yet, but he finally has hope and optimism again and that is huge right now from where he and Anni have been. Tred is once again shooting his bow and shotgun from his wheelchair. His TV crew arrived today to shoot his next show and life is heading in the direction of normal - within Tred's new context. He honestly hasn't been this upbeat since this all started.
Anni is searching for live-in help for Tred as she can't handle the heavy lifting, household management and well - Tred - all by herself. In addition, the Bartas face some staggering medical bills: As you can imagine, rebuilding every door, adding an elevator, completely redoing a handicapped bathroom, adapting the truck so he can drive, ramps, a powered wheelchair - it all costs megabucks and not surprisingly, health insurance provides them with $1,500 over a lifetime for these maladies. So anyone who feels inclined to make a tax-deductible donation to help the Bartas return to some semblance of real life can contact for Tred Barta at the Vail Valley Charitable Fund, PO Box 1275, Avon, CO 81620, 970-845-6339. Or Donations can be made by credit card at www.vvcf.org, again mention for Tred Barta.
As if it weren't tough enough for Tred, the chemotherapy and pheresis he initially underwent haven't seemed to help his paralysis improve. In fact, it seemed to continue spreading. So back for more chemo and more plasma pheresis he went in addition to some of the most rigorous physical therapy you can imagine. If Tred says he does things the Barta Way - the hard way, then this must be the true test.
Tred wasn't well enough to attend his namesake tournament in Beaufort, North Carolina last week. His editor and host of Sport Fishing TV also on the Versus Network, Dean Travis Clarke stood in for Tred; stand-in being the operative phrase since no one can ever replace Tred Barta.
Health insurance covers only a fraction of Tred's medical expenses. If you feel inclined to help, you can contribute to Tred's medical fund at: Wells Fargo Bank, Anni D. Barta Medical Fund for Tred Barta, PO Box 567, Eagle, CO 81631 (970-328-6361). There is also a 501(c)3 tax-deductible fund with the Vail Valley Charitable Fund, PO Box 1275, Avon, CO 81620 (970-845-6339). Credit-card payments may also be made online at www.vvcf.org. Be sure to mention "for benefit of Tred Barta."
Things have gotten both better and worse and certainly intense for Tred in the past two days.
On Friday Tred and Anni got results back from and MRI that Annie had requested because the paralysis was proceeding in the opposite direction that it should have been. It showed that the damage to Tred's spine is progressing and advancing up his neck meaning his arms are now in jeopardy. Of course, this got all the medical teams jumping - initiating all sorts of tests and sample collecting. Yesterday they got preliminary results on a blood disorder that ostensibly could be treated with a procedure called plasma pheresis. Tred was immediately transferred out of rehab and into an hospital for that procedure. However, on the way to the hospital, doctors called Anni to tell her that that one test (a lymphectomy - analysis of lymph nodes) showed full blown Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. (No not what won this year's spelling bee.) In fact, this is more easily treated than spelled or pronounced. It's a very treatable form of lymphoma (a form of cancer). So Tred has now also started chemotherapy.
Anni says that although this all sounds horrible, it is, in fact, very good news in that the aggressiveness of disease's onset indicates that perhaps it is the cause of the paralysis. And since it is a treatable condition, doctors think that over time the paralysis could be reversed to some degree.
Both Tred and Anni are optimistic, though admittedly, Tred needs some cheering up. He's tired and intimidated by the number of letters in the name of his disease. No, seriously, he looks at it like he's now both paralyzed AND has cancer. I will be traveling to Colorado to see Tred shortly and to tape him for an online news item. But mostly just to let him know that we are all supporting him in every way we can. PLEASE keep him in your thoughts.
Tred has been outdoors shooting his bow from his wheelchair everyday and did well enough yesterday that the Craig Rehab staff gave him an award. Dennis Braid flies in next week with an engineer to design a harness that will let him fish for big game again. And he is establishing a fund for people with spinal injuries. - DTC
As of yesterday afternoon, Tred wants you all to know that he had never worked harder at anything in his life. He undergoes physiotherapy all-day, everyday. At the end of his first week in rehab, he has experienced no improvement in the sensation in his lower body, though neither has he lost any ground. He especially works on upper-body strength and has quickly earned the respect of his doctors and therapists for working more intensely than anyone they've ever met. IF he never gets the use of his legs back again, it will certainly NOT be for lack of effort.
Tred is getting better at maneuvering his wheelchair and practices shooting his bow and casting light tackle everyday. He has physical glitches to deal with like undiagnosed pain and difficulty regulating body temperature. He is learning how to ameliorate bed sores. But overall, he is optimistic and grateful that he is as good as he is -- especially after seeing so many others in his rehab center so much worse off than he is.
So keep the thoughts and prayers coming. Tred has a very long, arduous and frustrating journey ahead of him. He needs every bit of support you can share.
Thanks - Dean Travis Clarke
Tred's biggest problem at present is lack of sleep. Hospitals just won't let you. He's been undergoing a legion of tests trying to determine the cause of his spinal stroke with no determination so far. Understandably, he's feeling dejected. However, tomorrow he transfers to Craig Rehab hospital, one of the most loving, positive atmospheres anywhere on earth. Hopefully they will boost his spirits AND let him get some sleep. He complained of pain and nothing among the almost 30 different pain medications helped the pain and his body hated it as well, resulting in allergic reactions. He also hasn't eaten for days and without chocolate milk and peanut butter and jelly, he gets VERY depressed. Anni also requires your prayers as being stoic and positive throughout all this is an equally tough job. She, too, needs sleep and consideration, PLEASE keep all your positive energy, prayers and good thoughts channeled toward them.
Just got off phone with Tred Barta and wife Anni. He had packed to travel to Alaska for a bear hunt for his TV show. Put his bag in his truck, Returned to house and then on way back to truck felt loss of feeling in his left leg. Decided to walk up mountainside behind house to make sure he could handle the rigors of hunting in Alaska before getting on plane. Condition worsened, so he immediately went to doctor. Doctor ordered ambulance to take him to hospital where MRI, CT scan, etc determined he'd suffered a spinal "stroke," which is quite rare - afflicting approximately 12 of 100,000 people in the U.S. each year.
Within four hours, he had completely lost feeling in both legs up to a point halfway between his chest and navel.
Tred and Anni seem to be taking turns being supportive and dejected. Fortunately, they seem to balance each other that way. He will soon be transferred to Craig Rehab Center in Denver. Craig is a non-profit freestanding hospital that has been rated every year in the Top Ten Rehabilitation Hospitals by US News and World Report since the ratings began eighteen years ago. www.craighospital.org .
Though last night was tough, today finds some encouraging signs. He has been able to respond to stimulus causing his toes to curl. The paralysis has lowered to about navel level. He seems to have regained some slight sensation in his right leg. Results of blood and spinal fluid tests also seem encouraging.
I will continue to keep in touch with him and will pass along news as warranted so as to not have EVERYONE contacting him all the time. He seems remarkably positive and upbeat this morning. Keep them in your thoughts and please live YOUR life as though this could happen to you tomorrow!