Medical mystery finally explained - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Medical mystery finally explained

Posted: Updated:

MOUNT HOREB (WKOW) -- A Mount Horeb family has an incredible story to share and they hope it'll help others.

Melissa Munson was sick for years, not knowing why. Then her husband, healthy up until that point, nearly died. What they discovered is a lesson for us all.

Melissa and Steve had two young girls when they built a new house in Mount Horeb in 2005. Melissa started feeling sick not long after they moved in. She had flu-like symptoms, chronic headaches and fatigue.

When her menstrual cycle became out of control, Melissa made the hard decision to have a hysterectomy. "We were told it would be a six-week recovery," Melissa says. That six-week recovery turned into two years."

It took two years because her wounds would not heal. That led to more surgeries and more health problems until Gynecologist Dr. Timothy Raichle was brought in to figure out what was going on. "We went to the (operating room) to fix it and it looked great," Dr. Raichle says.  "I left thinking, 'this is over.' And every time we did a post-op she would come back and it looked like we hadn't done anything. It was really frustrating."

While doctors were baffled, Melissa was in terrible pain. She stopped working. She couldn't care for her daughters. Dr. Raichle says, "We had a huge workup done by different people supposing what was going on, why wasn't she healing? Does she have a connective tissue disorder or something like that?"

All this time, Melissa's husband Steve took care of her. He was the healthy one in the family.

Out of the blue, Steve's colon ruptured; very rare to begin with and doctors say there were no warning signs. Dr. Raichle says, "That's the first time we joked, 'What's going on in that home?'"

Half joking, but half serious. Because Dr. Raichle and the Munsons' chiropractor, Dr. Joe Teff, decided to take a look at the family's environment. Dr. Teff says, "If there's a problem, there's a cause. You have to go back and find the cause to treat the problem. If you don't, you're just throwing darts at a board."

After checking for radon and finding nothing, they did discover a slow natural gas leak near their bedroom. The gas company tightened a fitting and they waited. "Maybe this was the answer. Maybe it's not. If it is, our prayers are answered," Melissa says. 

She and Dr.Raichle were skeptical. "My thought was, they're always searching for hope," Dr. Raichle says. "Here's the next hopeful thing."

But a month later, Melissa's wounds had healed after being there for four years. Steve, on the brink of death, recovered fully. Their daughters, who they thought had learning disabilities and their own health problems, started feeling better and getting much better grades.

Doctors who haven't treated the Munsons tell us the family's experience is extreme but possible. They warn not to jump to conclusions and think your health problems are because of a natural gas leak, but they do encourage people to think about their environment when consulting with healthcare providers. 

The Munsons say they never really noticed the sulfur-based odor, or "rotten egg" smell that gas companies put into natural gas so you notice a leak. Utilities say if you ever smell that, leave your home and call your gas company right away. If you ever question it, contact them and they can check it out for you.

Once Melissa started feeling better, she wrote a book about their experience called "God Only Knows." Melissa says the story is about her faith, the family's support system, and their persistence to find answers. "We're just grateful," Melissa says. "Grateful to be able to live through it. And hopefully be able to help somebody else."

Powered by Frankly