Rachael's Pages by Rachael Merritt and Nancy Allen
Rachael holding hair she donated to Locks of Love after her surgery
I (Rachael) was born and raised in Oklahoma. My parents are both from Maine. They got transferred to Oklahoma while my dad was in the Coast Guard.
My parents were told by doctors that they would never have any children, but I am the oldest of five children. They were married five years before I was born; there are ten years that separate all five of us. I have a number of precious nieces and nephews.
Rachael Farnsworth Merritt with her family several years ago. Rachael is front left.
My dad, Barry Farnsworth, is the pastor and founder of Victory Baptist Church in Kingfisher, OK. Several years ago he retired from the FAA center. My mom is a stay at home housewife--always has been. We attended Christian schools our entire life for which my parents greatly sacrificed. I am very close to my parents. If you are interested in watching some services from my home church click below in the box.
Victory Baptist has streaming video of their church services thanks to Daniel Merritt,
Rachael's husband. Services are held
Sunday 10:45 a.m., 6:00 p.m., and Wed. 7:30 p.m. central time.
Click below in the blue box at the time of the service.
It will be shown in the USTREAM screen on church website.
Pastor Barry Farnsworth, Rachael's Father
Celebrating Victory Baptist's 30 year anniversary in 2016
My health problems started when I was a healthy, active 16 year old. I was playing in a pre-season basketball tournament. We had an early morning game. I was one of the starting five so I wanted so badly to contribute for my team. I felt terrible. My legs were stiff, fatigue was overwhelming, and I was slow. I was in and out the entire game. I played until my stamina ran out, then rested, then played some more. (We lost that game, by the way!) I was put in the hospital a week later. I was hardly able to move and I couldn't feed myself.
Five days later I was released from the hospital with no answers except that I had gotten some kind of virus. This was to begin a long journey of searching for answers, and a journey of learning so much about what the Lord can do. I improved for a while. I missed much schooling, but my teachers were so kind as to allow us to tape the classes and mom administered my tests at home. Graduating from high school was quite an achievement. I had always dreamed of going to college and becoming a teacher. My health problems would not allow that. God had other things in mind for my life.
In November of 1996, due to asthma and other problems, I was hospitalized. Walking was so very difficult, and I again had trouble feeding myself and moving. I was told at this time by a Dr. Douglas Kaplan that no one here would be able to diagnose me. I had too rare a disease. I walked into the hospital, but never walked again. After this I got around the house by crawling, holding on to furniture, and eventually a walker. When going out of the house, I had to use a wheelchair.
In 1998, after exhausting all local options at the time, I went to the Mayo Clinic. Still I got no answers. Then in 1999, I went to Mass General Hospital. I was tested at this time for a gene for dystonia which came back negative. Again, no answers. Later in 1999, I had a large medical work up while in Presbyterian Hospital. No answers.
Different tests would come back abnormal, such as high lactic acid. Nothing fit into any particular category however.
In January of 2001, I had a muscle biopsy of my left leg. It was a painful procedure. Nothing was found.
It was at this time that a special person came into my life. I received a Christmas gift from someone I had never met that lived in Maine (where both my parents grew up). After hearing about my difficulties from a mutual friend, the Lord pressed upon this special person to send me a gift. It took two weeks to get to me. Daniel Merritt and I first corresponded the day after Christmas. We first met the day after my muscle biopsy. We had corresponded via e-mail, online chat, and telephone. I believe we loved each other before we ever met. Our family went to Maine almost every year since I was about ten, yet we never met until January 30, 2001--all in God's time.
Daniel was driving over the road at the time and just "happened" to get a load to Oklahoma shortly after we started corresponding. He is from the same hometown as my dad--all of 600 people! It turns out my grandfather and his grandmother married when they were both widowed. My grandfather has since passed away. His grandmother, my step grandmother is still living. A mutual friend was his Sunday School teacher's wife. She had mentioned me for prayer many times, so he felt compelled by the Lord to send me a gift even though we had never met.
He quit his job, left everything he had known for 27 years, to move to Oklahoma to date me. He had no guarantees that anything would work out, but he was willing to give it a try. It almost makes me cry just thinking about it. He was the only guy I ever met that saw me--not the disease or the wheelchair.
Rachael and Daniel Engagement
We married in November of 2001 and have lived happily every after!! I never expected to be married. I figured I would live the rest of my life with my parents. I am so thankful the Lord had someone out there for me.
Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Merritt - November 24, 2001
During this time, my sister came down with the disease. By this time, I had stopped searching for an answer. I was tired of the poking, prodding, tests, etc. I just wanted to live as normal a life as possible with the man I loved. She was just beginning her journey. Mom and Dad had taken me to the Mayo Clinic, so they felt they owed it to her to try that avenue as well. As it turned out, they had a test that they did not have when I was there in 1998.
That was where we met Dr. Kevin Klos who just "happened" to be picked to be Melissa's doctor. They have over 80 neurologists! What a miracle that God chose Dr. Klos for us. He was from Oklahoma, and was already planning to set up practice in Tulsa when Melissa saw him. She tested positive for the dystonia test--so they wanted to see me. I also tested positive. In July of 2005 we received our official diagnosis. Finally--an answer! I have been asked if I wished things would have happened sooner. The answer is "No." It was all done in God's perfect timing. I learned so much the ten years I spent in a wheelchair.
To learn more about dystonia click on this sentence and go to the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation.
To learn more about Dr. Klos and his Movement Disorder Clinic of Oklahoma in Tulsa, OK click here.
Dr. Klos information from the U.S. News and World Report Health
It was at this time that I began debating Deep Brain Stimulation surgery. I was originally told it would be an 8-12 hour surgery, and I would be awake. I was also told that I would have to go to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.
Then Dr. Klos found out about Dr. Francel and sent me there for a consult. I was told that he could do the surgery in 2-3 hours, and I could be ASLEEP. Dr. Francel has the best technology for Deep Brain Stimulation surgery. He was right here in Oklahoma--what a blessing!!!
My consultation visit went very well with Dr. Francel. He was very kind and agreed to do the surgery. This is not an FDA approved treatment for dystonia, but it can be done for humanitarian purposes if drug therapy gets little to no results.
Dr. Paul Francel - our hero!
I went into surgery June 23, 2006. The surgery started about 2:00 in the afternoon. I didn't really wake up until about twelve hours later. Dr. Francel had been there since seven in the morning. Due to an emergency surgery, he was still there at midnight. Yet, he took the time to come in around midnight to check on me and tell us he thought we would be pleased with the results. His staff was wonderful. They treated me so well the entire day as I went through pre-op tests and preparation.
Rachael right after surgery
I went two weeks later, July 10th, to get my neurostimulator turned on and programmed by Dr. Klos. I went again September 18th. It was at that time Dr. Klos told me I might see some improvement in a month or so. If I did he wanted to know immediately. I want to point out here that Deep Brain Stimulation is a treatment, not a cure for my condition.
Dr. Klos with Rachael getting programmed
On Friday, October 13th, 2006 I walked out of bed first thing in the morning. I wasn't sure it was really true so I didn't call anyone or really even believe it myself. I made myself get all the stuff I needed for breakfast without using my walker or touching anything. I was able to do it!! After eating, I (on my own two feet) walked to the couch and collapsed in joyful tears and prayer. I just couldn't believe it--it had been ten years-- yet without therapy, I was able to walk. I had been told that physical therapy would probably be required.
I then called my husband, my mom, and my sister. After walking around the house a little more and realizing it really was happening, I called my husband and asked him to please come and see me!
At that time he contracted with FedEx to make deliveries. He broke off from his route to come see me. For the first time in our married life, I was able, on my own, to walk into my husband's arms. I wept. Words cannot describe the joy that was overflowing my heart. My husband was too stunned to weep, I think. For days afterwards, he would just watch me walk as if it was all a dream somehow.
Daniel and Rachael 2006
That next Sunday, I walked forward in church, Victory Baptist Church in Kingfisher, to tell what God had done for me. I cannot describe to you the sobs throughout the building as people who have known and prayed for me so long realized that it was ME walking forward. I went up on stage, hugged my dad, and told my story--God's story. My mom was sitting on the front row, crying tears of wonderful joy. Oh the years of tears my parents had cried as they watched me suffer through so many things. It was wonderful to see those tears of joy!
I asked the Lord into my heart at the age of five so I knew I would one day walk again. I just never expected it to be on this side of Glory!! What a sweet blessing the Lord provided in allowing me to cross paths with Dr.Kevin Klos and Dr. Paul Francel.
On October 28, 2006 I spoke at a Parkinson's Convention hosted by St. Anthony's Hospital. Dr. Francel and Dr. Klos were also speaking. Dr. Francel asked me to tell my story. I did--with lots of tears. I have met many doctors, but Dr. Klos and Dr. Francel beat them all with their compassion and real concern. I thank the Lord so much for leading me to Dr. Francel. I still can't believe that I am walking. I experience new and wonderful things daily.
on the box below to see my talk at the Parkinson's Convention
To download a free Quicktime viewer click here
If the videos (above and below) don't open when you click on the links (it takes a little bit), follow these instructions: First, open the Quick Time viewer. Then, if the dialog box asks you a question about the MIME type configuration, say no.
The dystonia at times does break through the stimulation (due to illness, fatigue, or walking too much) and my walking has reverted back to the way I walked before the stimulation began working. This too is a gift. It makes me realize afresh what a miracle God has worked in my life, and it helps me remember what a great gift I have been given back--the ability to walk on my own. YES, WALKING IS A GREAT GIFT! I pray that I never forget it. I continue to have tune-ups on my neurotransmitter with my neurologist.
Exciting Updates - October 2007
Daniel and I went to the Wichita Mountains, the Great Plains Park, and Medicine Park near Lawton, Oklahoma. We hadn't been there in two years. What an incredible difference walking makes!!!! I so enjoyed getting to climb and walk. It was SO MUCH FUN! I was close to tears many times as I remembered Daniel getting me down the walkways last time in my wheelchair. What a miracle the Lord has worked for me. It is amazing what he does for us, even though none of us deserve it. I feel so blessed.
Rachael on Victory Rock and Victory Hill
Best News Ever - We are Parents! Abby Paige Merritt - January 17, 2008
We are officially parents as of today! We adopted our beautiful daughter Abby Paige Merritt. She is a charming 4 year old. That would never have been possible without the Lord's and Dr. Francel's great work allowing me to walk again! God answered our every prayer and opened every door for us. There are so many miracles in this story. We are so grateful the Lord has allowed us to be parents. We thank everyone who has prayed so hard for this to happen.
Celebrating the adoption of our beautiful daughter Abby Paige Merritt January 17, 2008
Daniel, Rachael, Abby Paige Merritt left age 4 - Abby age 5 right
Update on Abby as Our New Daughter
January 17, 2009 and 2010 - Click on Abby Update box below to read about the one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and eight year anniversaries of her adoption and a brief history of the amazing way it came about.
Click on the mailbox above to contact me (Rachael) or
write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Complete Update on my (Rachael's) health situation click above.
For many links to Dystonia information click above.
on the box below to watch
my (Rachael's) testimony about my story at
Victory Baptist Church in Kingfisher, Oklahoma
To download a free Quicktime viewer click here
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with the wings of eagles, they shall run,
and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
Inspirational Stories and Information
about Paul Dr. Paul C. Francel, Arnold and Nancy Allen, and others