Scherer’s multiple conditions puzzle medical community

PAT FRIDGEN
A medical fund has been established at F&M Trust to help Kathleen Scherer and her brother Dan Angotti with mounting expenses. Scherer has a number of health issues that have not been clearly defined by physicians.

Kathleen Scherer just wants to feel better. Now 27, the former Greencastle-Antrim School District student has been sick over half her life. She now lives in Williamson with her mother, Michele Angotti, and brother Dan Angotti.

Scherer attended Greencastle schools from grades 3 to 10. At age 13 she began to suffer from seizures. She was diagnosed with an epileptic disorder, endometriosis and Cushings Disease, to top the asthma and juvenile arthritis she had since a toddler.

Though under treatment, "No one could help me and figure out while I was still sick," she said of an eight-year span. Finally a New York City physician diagnosed late stage Lyme disease. She was also the first person on record in Pennsylvania to have Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever at the same time.

"I may also have a primary immune deficiency disorder," she added. "There's no confirmation yet."

She has been to doctors in Cleveland, Baltimore, Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia. A heart condition resulting from the Lyme may necessitate a pacemaker in the future. She just developed hand tremors. The family is looking for an endocrinologist to specify proper treatment for her symptoms, and monitor her recovery from pituitary gland surgery three years ago, in which small tumors were removed.

Each day is hard.

"I have extreme fatigue, and pain in my joints and muscles. My feet are really, really bad. They swell and hurt if I stand for 10 minutes. Migraines have started taking over my life," said Scherer.

No one is sure which conditions came first or caused other symptoms.

"I hang out in my room, which is dark, or in the family room, which is bright, on good days." She listens to music and the television, and uses her computer.

Scherer was an "A" student in school but the Lyme interrupted her cognitive abilities, making reading difficult. She finished her education in the Chambersburg school system and had planned to attend Lake Eric College for equestrian studies and journalism, but that is off the table for now.

Michele Angotti feels somewhat helpless watching her daughter.

"It's really hard. Every day you go out and hope you don't get a phone call."

She has two part-time jobs to support the family.

"Some days are harder than others. You can't do anything. It's not in my power to make her better."

Scherer has partial insurance coverage, but bills are piling up. An account has been established in her name at F&M Trust. The sponsor is St. Stephen's United Church of Christ in Upton.

Donations are welcome and can be dropped off at any branch of F&M Trust or mailed to: Kathleen and Dan Angotti Medical Fund, in care of F&M Trust, 518 North Antrim Way, Greencastle, PA 17225.

Scherer copes by trying to get outdoors to spend time with her horses, though she is no longer able to ride. Between medical appointments, if she can't go to the barn or pasture, she watches the steeds through the window. "That's what I miss the most, riding and jumping."