Lakeville woman, family place hopes on brain surgery

Fundraiser set for Lori Williams

Lori Williams

Lori Williams

Lori Williams rarely leaves the house anymore.

The 38-year-old Lakeville wife, mother, former active volunteer, sales professional and car racing fan has been sidelined with torticollis and dystonia,  progressively debilitating conditions that cause uncontrollable muscle spasms and upper body contortions that leave her in excruciating pain.

“She has spasms in her neck, her head tilts to the side and she can’t straighten up,” said friend Natalie Bartyzal of Lakeville.

Lori’s conditions have become so bad that she has been at home on a morphine drip for about two years, while her husband Andy Williams struggles to care for her and their two sons, while managing work, daily responsibilities, the house and paying rapidly mounting medical bills.

Lori’s disorders were triggered after she suffered multiple injuries in three separate car crashes she did not cause, including a rear-end collision and a passenger-side car crash during a ride-along with a Burnsville police officer.

That crash was so severe that Andy said rescuers had to cut her out of the squad car, which was hit by a driver running a red light.

Lori has spent years meeting doctors around the country, seeking some kind of treatment for her increasingly painful and debilitating symptoms.

Nobody offered hope until she met Dr. Michael Rezak, a Chicago neurologist who is now giving the couple hope that Lori can return to a normal life.

Previously, Lori was active in Lakeville’s sports community, a busy mom devoted to her family, including sons Chris, 15, and a student at Lakeville South High School, and Cameron, 11, a sixth-grader at Kenwood Trail Middle School.

She and Andy served for about five years as commissioners of the Lakeville Baseball Association’s in-house program and helped coach their boys’ various teams; Lori was well known for helping others in the community and supported her brother’s racing activities at Elko Speedway.

Lori used to work in sales; more recently she ran a child care.

Now, Lori is confined to a wheelchair, barely able to stand and in constant pain.

“She wants to go back to work,” Andy said. “She hates staying home.”

With Rezak, Lori has new hope of returning to a closer reflection of her previous life.

She is scheduled to undergo brain surgery in December to implant two electrodes that would eventually receive mild shock waves.

Andy said the treatments are expected to reduce the pain and alleviate symptoms.

Preparing for the surgery requires the family to make five or six trips to Chicago, with Andy taking days off his job with the city of Minneapolis and adding to the pile of medical bills.

“We’re struggling,” Andy said. “There are a lot of medical bills we are trying to pay that puts a damper on everything. There is not an ounce of extra money.”

Andy said he is also frequently fighting with the insurance company to cover treatments.

A fundraiser is planned 6-9:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at Babe’s Sports Bar & Grill, 20685 Holyoke Ave. in Lakeville.

Tickets are $10 at the door and will include a raffle and silent auction; beer will be free from 6-8 p.m.

Auction items include a wall of wine, Pahl’s Market gift basket and a Lakeville South High School rhinestone studded sweatshirt and mittens.

Funds raised will help pay for travel, a motorized wheelchair and medical bills.

Andy said they are grateful for support they have received, noting it is difficult for them to ask for help, but their situation is dire.

“She has never been in a crash she caused,” Andy said. “She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Donations to help the family can also be made at US Bank, 20191 Iberia Ave., Lakeville MN, 55044, care of the Lori J. Williams Donation Account.

For more information, visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/loriwilliams2.

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