Community rallies around Cranbrook family

Local family of four scrambling after father struck down by rare illness

The Byman family – Randy

The Byman family – Randy

A young Cranbrook family is facing a long road to recovery after a mysterious illness struck a father of two on November 27, 2012.

Randy Byman was returning from his job in Elkford to Cranbrook when he was suddenly hit by an unknown illness.

“He became very ill and it was a downhill spiral from there,” said his wife, Deanna.

It continued for five weeks, with his health deteriorating. Randy was sent to a specialist in hopes of finding a diagnosis – and they got one.

“The doctors didn’t know what they were dealing with until a trip to Calgary to see a neurologist on December 28 gave us the diagnosis of mononeuritis multiplex with an associated vasculitis,” Deanna said.

As the family struggled with the realization that they would be battling the disorder for at least a year before Randy was back to his old self, the community sprung up to support them. Family friend Sara Jerke launched a Facebook page and an online auction, which will open bids this Sunday, January 20. Many businesses and local artisans have stepped up to offer items for bidding, with all proceeds going to the Bymans. Sara herself, who operates Sara’s Kitchen, has offered up some goodies for the auction.

“Sara had the idea for this auction and has totally just taken the ball and run with it,” Deanna said. “She is an amazing friend and a wonderful support system to us.”

So far the donated auction items have totalled over $3,000. They range from gift certificates from local auto dealers for service, to handmade bracelets, goodies from the many talented homegrown bakeries in town, and gift certificates to restaurants.

Deanna’s two children even picked out a special auction item from her Scentsy collection.

The disorder has caused Randy to have limited use of his hands and arms due to severe nerve damage. Randy’s life has changed significantly since the diagnosis.

“He has extensive nerve damage and struggles with the ability to do even the basic stuff – eating, showering, reading a book. He cannot drive,” Deanna said.

The family is still reeling as they adjust to their new life. Randy gave up his apartment in Elkford recently where he stayed when he was away working.

The family is now focusing on his recovery, which is expected to take 18 to 24 months.

“We have no idea what the future holds but we are taking it day by day,” Deanna said.

“He has been hospitalized twice and is undergoing extensive treatment with chemotherapy drugs and steroids.”

The Bymans are backed not only by the community, but by the health care team at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital.

“We don’t know the ‘why?’ part of all of this, but tests are being done and he is under the care of an amazing specialist here in Cranbrook, Dr. Karen Pont,” Deanna said.

Randy also sees a neurologist, who was able to estimate his recovery time. Nerves are capable of regeneration, the family has been informed, but it happens slowly.

“Nerves can regenerate but at a very slow pace – approximately a half to one inch per month; however, there are no guarantees,” Deanna said.

Randy suddenly went from being an otherwise healthy man to being on 16 pills a day to control the disorder and the excruciating pain he has experienced.

“He went from zero meds to about 16 per day. It has been very difficult to say the least,” Deanna said. The family is determined to see Randy return to full health and to return to normal function.

Visit the Byman Family Online Auction Facebook page to view the items up for grabs.

Bids will open Sunday and close on January 27.

The fundraiser is also gathering bottles for the month of January. If you have bottles to give away, contact the Facebook group.

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