Saturday, April 19, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Woman shares family story as food drive gears up

By
From page A1 | November 14, 2012 | 1 Comment

Lina Ruelas on welfare

Lina Ruelas wipes away tears as she recalls her daughter Isabela's battle with the neuromuscular disorder myasthenia gravia Thursday at Mission Solano in Fairfield. The disorder was nearly fatal, as Ruelas went bankrupt paying trying to pay the medical bills while taking care of her daughter. Ruelas now expresses deep gratitude for Mission Solano that has helped her through some of the difficult times she was forced to rely on the welfare system. (Conner Jay/Daily Republic)

FAIRFIELD — Lina Ruelas is going to have a normal Thanksgiving dinner with her daughter Isabel this year.

That’s in part due to this mother’s determination, her daughter’s will to live and to a community that reached out and offered a hand after hearing their compelling story.

Ruelas and her daughter have been through plenty of difficulties in the 10 short years she’s been alive. Just three years ago, Isabel was in the intensive care unit facing a death sentence.

Isabel was diagnosed at 4 with a rare but serious condition known as myasthenia gravis. Her mother brought Isabel to the emergency room several times after the young girl would choke on air, turn blue and gray and pass out. After years of struggles, both with the disease and doctors, the disease was in remission.

Two years later, doctors found a small granuloma – a nodule – and told Ruelas they’d remove it through routine laser surgery. Ruelas, a cautious mother, agreed to leave her daughter’s side only while doctors operated.

She left the hospital briefly, but returned to a nightmare. The nurses and doctors cried in hysteria, looking for Ruelas. After what Isabel had already been through, Ruelas thought she could handle anything they told her.

“They said Isabel caught on fire,” Ruelas said.

The laser that doctors used for surgery blew up an existing air tube inside Isabel’s throat, causing her entire airway to catch on fire. They immediately doused her, which caused hypothermia.

Her doctor, Joanne Farmer, knew Isabel, knew what she’d been through and what she survived. But that day, Farmer cried hysterically.

“I grabbed her and told her to calm down,” Ruelas said.

The doctors performed emergency surgery on Isabel and found horrible burns inside. They later told Ruelas her daughter had 24 hours to live.

Ruelas had heard it all before.

“With all this (stuff) you’ve told me . . . she wouldn’t be here now,” she said.

Isabel was put on heavy medication to treat the pain, but after dealing with constant pain and medication for so many years, she simply woke up. Though she couldn’t talk, Isabel used sign language to her mother, asking what happened.

As Ruelas recounted what happened next, she pause, held her head low and cried.

“I said, ‘Will you promise not to leave me?’ ” she said. “She said ‘OK.’ ”

Isabel fell back asleep but never left her mother, as she promised. Though doctors insisted she wouldn’t live past two weeks, she did. And though they determined that she would never talk again, she did.

“Doctors were shocked,” Ruelas said. “They called her the miracle starfish.”

This incident was hardly the first for Isabel. She has been on her deathbed many times before and was even struck by a drunken driver. She recently sat by her mother, combing her hair, laughing and giggling with her brother Julian. The only evidence of her harrowing story was a small scar on throat.

Her mother’s story was no less difficult: No matter what doctors told her, she wouldn’t give up on her daughter.

When Isabel started getting sick, doctors and nurses accused Ruelas of being a hypochondriac. She faced adversity and skepticism after visiting several doctors. She finally got the help she needed from California Pacific Medical Center neurologist Robert Miller.

“I kept calling him and kept getting hung up on,” Ruelas said. “He’s this ritzy doctor and I’m just this little Chicana girl.”

Miller worked closely with Ruelas to ensure her daughter got the care and attention she needed. Because Isabel’s condition was so rare and so severe, Ruelas had to learn exactly what to do in case her airway closed up, and how to change her tubes and dressing.

Isabel spent several years in and out of the hospital and her mother, concerned for her daughter’s care, never left her side.

The costs of health care eventually wore on the Ruelas family as they lost their house, apartment and car. Her husband and four other children lived in Suisun City with their grandparents while Ruelas stayed with Isabel.

Isabel’s health was worth it to the family, however.

“Her hard work being sick paid off,” Ruelas said. “She had not been punished.”

Isabel’s story inspired people to write medical articles on her and inspired Ruelas to go back to school to earn a medical degree.

This past year, however, she received tragic health news again, this time from her husband: He was diagnosed with late stage testicular cancer. After intensive radiation therapy, he was left immobile from the waist down. Now Ruelas takes care of him and three of her children.

Life remains a daily struggle. Ruelas said she gets by with what she can on welfare, food stamps and Social Security but said it’s a struggle month to month to put food on the table.

“It took awhile for me not to be embarrassed,” she said. “But it’s for my kids.”

Money grows tighter during the holiday season, but Ruelas found help through Mission Solano’s food box outreach. Each year the organization fills hundreds of boxes with Thanksgiving and Christmas foods. For families such as the Ruelases that barely make it to the end of the month, the food has been a blessing.

“Food stamps don’t help out during the holidays,” Ruelas said. “If it wasn’t for this, my kids wouldn’t have a Christmas.”

Ruelas said she continues to face judgement and adversity when she pulls out food stamps or collects food donations, but she never lets it get her down.

“You don’t know my story, don’t judge me,” she said. “This is what a parent does. This is what a wife does.”

Many families depend on Mission Solano’s food boxes during the holidays, according to the organization. This year, Mission Solano said there’s a food shortage and help from the community is needed.

Donors are asked to bring boxed stuffing and cake mixes, cans of corn, beans, green vegetables, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce, bags of rice and marshmallows, boxed desserts and frozen turkeys and ham. Donations can be dropped off from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day through Monday at Mission Solano’s Community Outreach Center at 740 Travis Blvd. Frozen turkeys and hams can be dropped off anytime at the same location.

Mission Solano also needs volunteers to help cook, serve and clean up during the Thanksgiving box distribution and on Thanksgiving Day.

For more information, visit www.missionsolano.org or call 422-1011. All proceeds will provide care services to poor and homeless men, women and children in Solano County.

Reach Heather Ah San at 427-6977 or hahsan@dailyrepublic.net. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/HeatherMalia.

Heather Ah San

Heather Ah San

Heather Ah San covers Rio Vista, features and general news for the Daily Republic. She received her bachelors of art degree from the University of Oregon.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Glen FaisonNovember 13, 2012 - 10:36 pm

    Due to website maintenance, Daily Republic readers will be unable to comment on articles on the newspaper's website for much of Wednesday morning. The website will still be available to view stories and photos. The ability to comment on stories is expected to be available again by midday.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Solano unemployment inches downward

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
Transplant recipients talk about their best gifts

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Implementing Common Core: A work in progress

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

Fairfield council candidates weigh in on crime

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Police release name of woman found dead in Fairfield canal

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Spering, Bertani spar over fighting crime

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 7 Comments | Gallery

 
Congregation invites public to Easter music, message

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Five homes featured on Symphony Home Tour

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
 
Local woman helps spread Easter joy

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B12 | Gallery

Weather for April 19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B13

 
.

US / World

California farmers to get more water

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Teen sentenced in Oakland toddler’s killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

More Latino than white students admitted to UC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
From Clinton to Obama, many parallels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
PG&E to be arraigned in fatal pipeline blast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Mom and son who died in San Francisco fire ID’d

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
3 alleged gang members convicted of murder

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Easter on 4/20, pot holy day; pastors reach out

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
NASA’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down as planned

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Atheist national conference aims at Mormon church

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Man who avoided prison is overwhelmed by support

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Teen suspended for asking Miss America to prom

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
White House updating online privacy policy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

SpaceX making Easter delivery of station supplies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Sudden movement raises alarm in Wyoming slide area

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Some countries get Obama, but want his wife, too

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

 
In Egypt, a corruption watchdog hit by backlash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Military scales down, modifies Guam buildup plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Captain of sunken SKorean ferry arrested

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Diplomacy doesn’t move insurgents in Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
57-nation OSCE plays key Ukraine monitoring role

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Ukraine crisis: The turning points

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
.

Opinion

Cheers, jeers for the week of April 13-19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A11

 
Time to fix a law the courts have mucked up

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A11

Editorial Cartoons for April 19, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
Here we go again in Sacramento

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History for April 19, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Seniors, it’s never too late to do something about your health

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

 
Horoscopes for April 19, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Prince reaches agreement with music label

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

‘The Boondocks’ back for final ‘offensive’ season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

Stratocaster still a favorite at 60

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
.

Sports

Hertl has impressive playoff debut for Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors and Clippers take dislike to playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Big innings lift Mustangs over Indians

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Ross, Padres beat Cain and Giants 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

A’s come out swinging to beat Astros 11-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors to start O’Neal for Bogut vs. Clippers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

NBA playoffs looking more wide-open than expected

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Source: Grizzlies’ G Calathes suspended for 20 games

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Mets trade 1B Ike Davis to Pirates

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

TNT’s Sager to miss NBA playoffs due to leukemia

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

A’s lefty reliever Doolittle gets 5-year deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
’40-and-up club’: Ageless Hopkins after more belts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jimenez shoots 65 to lead Greater Gwinnett field

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Solano scores in ninth for 2-1 BVC baseball win over Yuba

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Choi leads rain-delayed RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
NBA’s Silver wants age limit change, no rush on others

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

Judge says American can’t end retiree benefits yet

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Mazda recalls 109,000 older SUVs for rust problem

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

5 features an Amazon phone might offer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Obituaries

Sealwyn Shirley Brucefield Shepherd Malkiewicz

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
.

Home Seller 04/19/14

Summerwood features 8 new homes in Suisun

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2

Average US 30-year mortgage rate falls to 4.27 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3

Real estate transactions for April 19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3