Local mom looks for answers to mystery illness

Braden Schiller
Powell Tribune

Katelyn Showalter has been looking for answers for the past year. She’s lost 100 pounds and is using a feeding tube. She has multiple medical conditions and is without an underlying cause but has not given up hope.
During her third pregnancy Showalter was on strict bed rest and in the first year following her daughter’s birth she lost 100 pounds. On the advice of her OBGYN she began to look into what had prompted the weight loss.
Looking for answers
Showalter, a Powell resident, visited several doctors in Billings, who told her the illness was in her head, so she travelled to Utah.
“I decided I was going to go to a bigger facility, and I was able to go to the University of Utah. I went there in August and kind of have just been doing testing since then and my body just kind of is shutting down on itself in the (process.)”
Showalter, a consistent substitute teacher in the Powell school district and at Rocky Mountain Schools in Cowley, has not been able to work since August due to her condition, which has led to emergency room visits.
“I am a worker, I love to work. I usually am subbing every day of the week if I can, and I was supposed to have a long term sub job in December I had to cancel,” Showalter said. “My body has started to have seizures, and they make me end up in the emergency room. I’ve been life flighted to Billings because of them. When I eat more than one time a day … my body will literally start convulsing on itself.”
Her symptoms also include conditions such as failure to thrive (a failure of the body to hold onto nutrients that’s usually seen in infants), medical anorexia and dumping syndrome.
“So physically, my body’s acting like we don’t like food. I actually love food, I love to cook, I love to experiment with all kinds of food,” Showalter said. “So it’s very disheartening and discouraging that I can’t eat it.”
Making progress with
community support
Recently, Showalter was able to get ahold of a dietician but the appointment required payment up front.
“I was kind of freaking out about how I was going to be able to pay her to be able to have the appointment as quick as I needed it,” Showalter said.
Her best friend in Denver, Brittany Osbon-Stutz, put together a GoFundMe to help her receive care, and within three days the community had exceeded the $3,000 goal.
“I know thank you is not enough. But, definitely thank you to everybody. It definitely takes a village, and we couldn’t can’t do it by ourselves. So we’re grateful for our village,” Showalter said.
She had her first appointment with the new dietician on Thursday evening, and it was a positive one, she said.
“I was able to Zoom meet with her last night, and it was a really good meeting. We were able to get my feeds kind of under control and more of a goal met for that,” Showalter said.
Next steps for her include continuing to use the feeding tube to get her body the nutrients she has been unable to get, while also using specialized antibiotics for her intestines.
It will be trial and error but in a “more specialized area,” she said.
The dietician will also be in contact with her primary care in Lovell so that they can all communicate moving forward.
Her illness has affected her entire family, she said. Her husband has had to take a lot of time off work, and her oldest child once had to talk her through a seizure on the way to the hospital.
“It’s been really helpful that they’re reaching out and offering dinners and childcare and that kind of support,” Showalter said. “It’s been great. So I think just continuing on with that would be amazing.”
Those who want to help Katelyn and her family can visit her GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/f/katelyn-medical-bills, donate to her medical account at First Bank of Wyoming or reach out to the family directly.