Kari Ferguson is a Pacific Northwesterner who lives life to the fullest. One of her favorite activities is visiting her duck shack, only accessible by boat, with her spouse and two sons. It has no electricity and the beds fold down from the walls.
“Living in the trees and listening to the river takes all of our stress away. It also brings our family closer together. Every activity or meal is a production so we have to work as a team,” she says.
Kari credits her ability to live life to the fullest with her family, in her career, and for herself to her medical hero, Thomas Curtis, MD. She thanks Dr. Curtis with gifts to Virginia Mason Franciscan Health in recognition of his expertise and compassion.
Kari met Dr. Curtis in 1997, five years after being diagnosed with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Since then, he’s made hundreds of calculated moves against Kari’s arthritis.
“Dr. Curtis knows everything about my family and me. I have such a good quality of life because he puts the effort in to make sure my arthritis interferes with as little as possible,” Kari says.
Exercise and mental health have been two of his strongest offensive plays.
“I walk and stretch every single day. Massage is also a great pain-management tool,” Kari says. “Another big piece of my preventative care has been talking to a therapist about the struggles of living with chronic pain and making every decision based on my autoimmune diseases that will never go away.”
Prioritizing her health has prevented Kari from some of the most severe symptoms of her psoriasis and arthritis.
But medications will always be part of her life. And Kari takes her medication regime very seriously. Dr. Curtis designed Kari’s medication plan based on every aspect of her routine.
“Dr. Curtis wants to know everything from the moment I wake up and everything that happens between then and getting to my desk at work. It’s amazing the level of detail he invests in me,” she says.
Kari understands that for people who don’t have an autoimmune disease, it can be hard to conceptualize how much everyday tasks and decisions are controlled by your diagnosis.
“I can only wear certain materials that breathe well and don’t make my skin feel like it’s tearing off. Unfortunately, I can’t wear Under Armor for every occasion. I’m an accountant and right now, professional clothes are the hardest to find,” she says. “I also sleep with a specific pillow and use special soap.”
Looking back at nearly 25 years of care, Kari says that with every big life milestone she can recall how Dr. Curtis helped her get through it. She also remembers the unplanned calls that he made just to check in on her.
“When I became pregnant, I was terrified about how my body would handle that journey and what would happen without medication,” Kari says. But Dr. Curtis was right by my side. He is part of every happy memory I have with my babies, who are now young men.”
Kari says she never imagined having such deep trust in a doctor. Along with the trust Dr. Curtis has given her is the self-confidence to tackle hard challenges and be the role model she wants to be for her kids.
“Instead of living in constant fear, I live with constant relief because I know that Dr. Curtis is my doctor 365 days a year. I’m so lucky to have him in my life,” Kari says. “I give to Virginia Mason because of Dr. Curtis’ care. But I couldn’t put a dollar value on what he’s given me.”