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Project Access Tarrant County

A patient’s perspective

by Daisy Ortiz with Kathryn Narumiya

This article was originally published in the September/October issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.

I will remember Project Access forever because not only did it save me, but it also helped my family.

I am twenty-eight years old. I have been married for seven years and I have a son and a daughter. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Doctors were shocked. They had never seen a patient my age with such severe rheumatoid arthritis. 

My condition has affected everything. It has been the cause of my depression. I felt like giving up on life. I could not be a mom or a wife. My husband would always see me sick and in pain. I could not take my kids to the park. My son would ask me to kick a ball with him, but I could not do simple things. 

It has been a major setback in my life. Since being diagnosed, I have had to quit three jobs because of my arthritis, especially in my knees.

This year has been hard because my pain has increased so much. It has been hard on me physically, emotionally, and mentally. One day, the pain was so unbearable that I went to the emergency room. After many tests, I was told that I needed an orthopedic surgeon. I knew that it was going to cost so much money. My husband told me that he did not care if he had to give up his whole paycheck for me to go to the doctor but that I was going to get the care I needed. That was when I started seeing Dr. David Brigati at Texas Bone and Joint. He immediately saw how bad my condition was and he told me he did not care what he had to do, that he was going to help me. He contacted Kathryn and that is when Project Access started helping me. 

Dr. Brigati performed my double knee replacement at Baylor Surgicare. My life has changed so much since the surgery. I am 70-80 percent better. I can walk and get around on my own now, which is a huge accomplishment for me. I can finally drive and get in my car. I have been able to take myself to the grocery store. This past Sunday, my family and I went to the zoo. It was a big milestone for us because I was able to walk and go up and down the stairs. My husband kept asking me if I was okay because he couldn’t believe how much I was able to walk at the zoo. 

Project Access also connected me to Baylor Community Care Clinic, where I have been seeing a therapist, and that has helped my mental health so much. The fact that I am now able to move freely and be more independent has helped me mentally. I feel so much better knowing that my family is not so concerned about me because they know I am improving day by day. 

I will remember Project Access forever because not only did it save me but it also helped my family.

I have been connected to a rheumatologist, and I plan on starting treatment soon. Eventually I hope to go back to work because I can finally walk. 

I want Dr. Brigati to know that I am forever grateful for him. He listened to me, understood me, and validated me. He did not just help me. He helped my husband, my kids, and my whole family. He helped me come back to life. I just want to say “thank you.” I do not have words to describe my appreciation. We need more doctors like him. 

For a long time, I dealt with so much pain that was contributed to my depression. It has been very hard for me to get healthcare. I just wanted to stop trying. I did not know there are resources out there that are willing to help. It’s amazing to me that there are organizations that want to help others. I have seen how much the surgery and physical therapy costs and I am so fortunate to not have to pay for these services. I am so grateful that PATC was able to help me. Diana and Kathryn were so helpful, and I am grateful for their patience. They have been a huge blessing in my life. I will remember this forever because not only did it save me, but it helped my family.

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