The mission of Eliese Research is to address the challenges of patient care through research, design and development of products and services that better meet the needs of those who have been diagnosed with illness or disease as well as those who care for them.
We understand, from personal experience, the physical, financial, mental and emotional hardships a diagnosis of illness or disease can bring to the victims, their families and their caregivers. We've experienced and understand the challenges of wading through a sea of choices each must face. We also know the joys and sorrows of how such a diagnosis can forever alter the lives it touches.
Our vision is "Perfecting Patient Comfort and Care" and necessity - being the mother of invention that it is - continues to lead us to new ideas that will better the quality of life for the sufferers and the helpers.
Deborah Eliese Bachelder, founder of Eliese Research, never backed away from a challenge so when her sister-in-law, Candace, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, she jumped in to help in any way she could. Having never been a caregiver in this capacity and having no medical experience, she learned by watching Candy face the mental, physical and emotional challenges of a double mastectomy, multiple surgeries and a long and difficult recovery. Debbie said, "The frustrating thing for me was seeing Candy's quality of life begin to deteriorate and how depressing it was for her."
With each obstacle, Debbie searched for new and inventive ways to help Candy regain control of her life and her independence as she braved her way through surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. Some of Debbie's ideas were a comedy of errors and were abandoned as utter failures but others were labeled as a "Godsend" - an enormous help and a critical step in Candy's eventual recovery.
Searching the internet for help, Debbie's research led to a dismal array of products that never quite hit the mark. Debbie could easily see that the simple products she made for Candy, the ones that assisted in her recovery and encouraged her independence, just might be useful to others who were facing similar challenges.
Armed with a boat-load of ideas and a few prototypes, Debbie worked her way into a meeting with the procurement department manager and a few of the hard working research nurses at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Since, by then, she was well aware of a patient's needs from a caregiver perspective, her goal at MD Anderson was to understand the patient's needs from a nursing perspective - then combine the two ideas into one product that would address both needs. What she found was, these women were knowledgeable, genuinely caring and open to sharing their perspective on the idea of a new product.
A number of prototypes later, persistence prevailed as Debbie's "Eliese Research Drain Sling-U" became the standard of care in breast cancer, post-operative drain management at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Debbie's contact in procurement later told her that what she had accomplished by getting a brand new product into use at MDA, was a feat unheard of for a single, non-medical individual. She said, "Be very proud of what you've done!"
Within three years, Debbie was granted a patent on the Drain Sling-U and now continues her quest for more and more products, ideas and services to better serve mankind.
Debbie says, "I'll do whatever it takes to get these products into the hands of those who need them, at a time when they need them most! With Candy as my inspiration, I will accomplish that and more."
In 2002, Debbie's sister-in-law, Candace Daigle, was diagnosed with breast cancer, ductile carcinoma in her right breast. Family and friends were shocked and scared as their hearts went out to this vivacious, generous, loving woman. Candy was the big sister of the family who had always been there for everyone else. Now it was time for the family to give back - whatever she needs, for as long as it takes.
At the time, Candy was in her early 50's and lived way down south in the bayou country of Louisiana. She spent her days as a caregiver at the KC Roy ARC Home in St. Martinville, Louisiana which is a live-in home for mentally and physically handicapped adults. She had been working there for 11 years and even though the hours were long and the work was back-breaking and sometimes frustrating, this was a haven for Candy. Love and laughter oozed out of her when she was with her clients - and, man, did they love her! So much so, there was rarely a weekend that Candy didn't take one or two of her "girls" home with her for a sleep-over - especially Lisa, who loved to sing 'Happy Birthday' any time, any place.
Candy left, and client, Lisa, at the KC Roy AC home in St Martinville, LA.
Although her life overflowed with friends, Candy was on her own in the back woods bayou. Pancreatic cancer had painfully and quickly taken her husband, Ralph, 10 years earlier and Stan, her only son, was living in Texas with his wife and daughter. Candy's parents, sister, brother and their families were also many miles away in Texas.
Twice the Pain
After the biopsy, the diagnosis was ductile carcinoma in the right breast. This carried with it a 90% re-occurance rate within five years.
It had barely been a year since another surgery had left Candy with two rods and seven screws in her lower back. A slow and excruciating recovery was complicated even more by her long time obesity and now - cancer. She felt more alone than ever. How would she ever manage her job, her bills, surgeries, chemo - her life? This time she was really afraid.
Not being one to dwell in the past, Candy mustered her courage and began gathering information. She asked thousands of questions, consulted with doctors and talked for hours with family and friends. She thought long and hard about the possibilities and then without hesitation, she told her doctor, "Take 'em both." That was December. Her surgery was scheduled for early January 2004. Candy already had plans to visit her family in Texas over the Christmas holidays so she plastered a big smile on her face and carried that heavy burden to Texas. She vowed not to tell her mother...not yet.
Time slowed to a crawl but January finally rolled around. Candy's plastic surgeon informed her that he would not perform a double mastectomy. He refused to remove a healthy breast - even at her request but she was also told that they believed the cancer had been caught early and she would likely not need chemo or radiation. However, time and patience worked in her favor and her surgeon agreed to do the double mastectomy. Candy sailed through the surgery with flying colors, unfortunately, what her surgeon found was much more extensive and complicated than anticipated and would indeed require chemo and radiation and four subsequent surgeries due to massive infections.
Candy's sister, Pam Littler, an RN at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Katy, Texas, had been voted "Nurse of the Year" at work and was the obvious and best candidate as Candy's caregiver. Without hesitation, she dropped everything and was there to care for Candy during her surgery. She stayed as long as she could but soon had to return home to her work and busy life as a mother of triplet teenage boys!
I am Not a Nurse!
Debbie was next in line to help care for Candy during her recovery. As she made the 6 hour trek to Candy's home, she had the stark realization that she knew nothing, really, about nursing care. Sure, she had a grown son, so she'd been there, but this was serious - life threatening - and she was not a nurse! She wondered if she would be able to recognize a serious complication, or follow doctor's orders, or if she'd miss something serious that could be avoided with a more experienced caretaker. She thought, "How do I comfort her when I've never walked in her shoes?"
Because her surgery had been much more extensive than anticipated, the four suction reservoirs (JP drains) that Candy originally came home with had to remain inserted for an extended period of time. Candy and Debbie learned volumes about drains in that three month period.
From a simplistic, layman's point of view, a suction reservoir, commonly referred to as a JP (Jackson Pratt) drain is connected to a drain tube which can be two feet or longer. This tube is inserted into the cavity during surgery and extends out of the body at the surgery site through a small opening. It is sutured (stitched) to the skin at that opening and it is there for the purpose of draining the naturally accurring fluid that builds up inside the body after surgery. The fluid flows through the tube and into a bulb that creates a small suction at the end of the tube This bulb must be monitored and emptied regularly. By monitoring the amount of fluid draining from the surgery site, one can tell when the drains can be removed by a doctor as the amount of fluid drops below a certain level. Traditionally, these drain bulbs are safety pinned to the patient's clothing or post-surgical wraps or dressings. In Candy's case, before she left the hospital, her chest was wrapped in a wide elastic band and the plastic tabs on the drain bulbs were safety pinned directly to the elastic band.
After a few days recovery at home, Candy was finally allowed to shower so Debbie removed the safety pins and removed the elastic band from Candy's chest. At this point there was nothing to attach the drain bulbs to so she had four tubes and four drain bulbs, (two on each side), literally dangling from her body. Since the tubes were stitched directly to the skin, it became immediately obvious that this was going to be tricky. Candy tried to hold all four tubes and bulbs in her hands while attempting to shower and as things got slippery, she almost dropped one of the bulbs. If the bulb had fallen and the tube had pulled out, it not only would have been painful, but that may have sent them back to the hospital to have the tube reinserted. Luckily, that didn't happen.
The next day, for her second shower, Debbie tried holding the tubes and bulbs with her hands through the shower curtain, while Candy attempted to wash herself, all along dodging Debbie and all the hardware. That, too, proved to be not an easy task.
For her third shower, Candy held the bulbs and Debbie attempted the cleaning by reaching around the shower curtain to afford Candy what little dignity she had left at that point and finally said, "Candy...I love ya...but this just isn't working for either of us. I need to fix this!”
The next morning, Debbie drove 40 miles to the nearest WalMart, brainstormed a few ideas, collected some materials, drove back and designed the very first “Drain Pouch”. That evening, they slipped that simple little bag over Candy's head, place the bag around her neck, placed all four drains and four tubes into the bag and Candy was in heaven! With this simple little tool, Candy finally had the freedom to move around and the independence to shower and dress by herself. To this day Candy says, “That pouch was a lifesaver! I couldn't have done it without it!”
Eliese Research is Born
Realizing that the Drain Pouch was such an enormous help to Candy, Debbie began researching the idea to see if there was a product like it already on the market. To her amazement, there was nothing out there. She said, “All I could think of was the staggering number of women battling breast cancer, mastectomies and reconstruction and I know they all must be going through what Candy went through. This simple little product could help them.” With that, the quest was on!
Months later, through the foresight and good will of two kind people in procurement at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, Debbie was allowed to pitch her ideas to a group of medical personnel. Although the Drain Pouch wasn't exactly suited for hospital use, she left the meeting armed with feedback from the hardworking MD Anderson Procurement Specialist, Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Educators and Research Nurses. From that moment Debbie was on a mission to design and produce a product that incorporated a patient's needs from a caregiver perspective with something that would work in a hospital application to help nursing personnel comfort and care for their patients more effeciently.
After months of trial and error, Eliese Research became a brand new vendor with an innovative new product called the “Drain Sling-U”. As it finally rolled off Debbie's sewing machine and into the hands of the nursing staff at MD Anderson Cancer Center, one special RN said, “Debbie saw a need and stepped up to the bat to create something to fill it. It's our job to make sure it gets into the right hands.”
The Drain Sling-U was an immediate hit with the nursing staff because of its soft, flexible, tape-less, pin-less design. Saving nursing time by keeping drains organized and easily accessible, it also allowed patients to be comfortable at rest as well as ambulate freely with as many as 10 drains attached.
With MD Anderson’s first order, Eliese Research was off and running. Debbie set a high standard of excellence for her products and would accept nothing less. Candy waded through miles of fabric, Patsy Sykes, a close friend who sews for the public, volunteered to sew, Debbie developed the “clean packaging” system and an assembly line was born. Within a few short months a manufacturing company was secured, patents were in place and sales began to skyrocket.
To this day Candy is cancer-free, doing well, and thanks to Dr. Mark A. Schusterman, M.D., PA. in Houston, Texas, she is enjoying her reconstruction. Debbie says, “A percentage of Eliese Research's profits go to breast cancer research, but half will always go directly to Candy. She faced a killer with grace and fortitude, fought like a champ and came out a winner! Candy inspires me every single day with her non-stop smile and her crazy, loving spirit!”
Candy Daigle in 2012
© 2011 Debbie Bachelder DBA Eliese Research