Man seeking novel treatments for arthritis, needs help

(Matt Hallock and his wife, Corrie, are shown at their Watsonville home with their children Rebecca, 8, and Darcy, 3. Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — Matt Hallock was a young, healthy man looking forward to a future with his fiancée when a troubling medical diagnosis derailed his life.

That was 11 years ago, right around the time he married his wife, Corrie.

Since then Hallock, 31, has battled pain, joint swelling and other symptoms that come with psoriatic arthritis.

The pain is so bad sometimes that he is unable to get out of bed. Worse, it sidelined a career at Monte Vista Christian School, where he started teaching English in January.

“It spread pretty quickly, and we went nine years looking for something to cure it, and none of it was working,” Hallock said.


A new approach

In his quest for a cure, Hallock has visited a multitude of doctors and tried numerous treatments.

This included lyme disease treatment, antibiotics, acupuncture, naturopaths, homeopaths and herbal remedies.

He walks with a slow, deliberate gait, and says he stands slightly shorter than he did a few years ago due to a spinal fracture. He describes “epicenters of pain” in his joints.

He is also prone to bruising and lacerations.

So pervasive is the disease that some of Hallock’s doctors have thrown up their hands in defeat.

Now, Hallock is ready to step up the fight.

He plans to try two new treatments, one at a clinic in Kansas at the end of August. If Hallock can wrangle the finances, he will also travel to Switzerland for a three-week treatment in October.

These cost around $9,500 and $30,000, respectively. That is to say nothing of living and travel expenses.


Strength through faith

Through it all, Hallock said his health hardships have not shaken his Christian faith. In fact, he said it has transformed his relationship with God.

That journey culminated five years ago, when he turned on his computer during a bedridden phase and began to research what the Bible says about healing.

“The things I’ve been well-intentionally taught about health and healing is that, if you’re sick, then God must have something to teach you,” Hallock said. “Or he must have some plan we don’t understand.”

For Hallock, the message was clear: “He actually wants us well. He doesn’t inflict disease on people.”

“I said, ‘either I’m going to believe in God and believe that he wants me well, or I’m not going to believe in him at all. But I’m not going to pick and choose what I believe about him,” he said.


The family

Corrie works as an administrator at Agape Dance Academy in Aptos, as a birth doula, and home schools the couple’s daughters, 3 and 8.

She said she is adjusting to life with her husband’s malady. That includes helping their daughters understand and accept what is happening to their father.

“At the beginning of our journey with this, I really had to reckon with thinking that my 22-year-old husband was going to die,” she said. “The panic is always there waiting at the door.

“I’m focusing my heart on hope, and choosing hope again,” she said.


Education career continues

Hallock now earns a living by tutoring high school-age students in math and SAT test prep. He has earned a name for himself as a caring teacher who goes beyond the typical duties of a teacher.

Robin Forbes said Hallock helped her son weather academic challenges and struggles with attending a new school.

“Matt was a total confidence builder and had a calming effect for my son,” she said.

When Forbes picked her son up from a tutoring session one night, she told Hallock she was upset that a family friend had been killed in a plane crash.

“Matt took the time to sit and speak and pray with me about it,” she said. “He never bothered to ever mention his physical/health plight with me, he was just concerned for us.”

In addition to offering academic support, Hallock said he uses the time to “help their hearts.”

That is important for high school students, who too often suffer from low self-esteem, he said.

“They think they are not worth being loved, they are not worth being accepted,” he said. “And I fully believe that all of them are incredibly loved by God. I just wanted to share that with them.”


Financial difficulties

Medicare covers much of Hallock’s treatments, such as infusions of drugs at Stanford, which carry a hefty $50,000 price tag. But the coverage runs out in a few years.

With that clock quickly running out, and with insurance unwilling to cover the types of treatment Hallock is seeking, the couple is turning to the community for help.

Hallock said he has managed to scrape together just enough money to cover the cost of his trips to Kansas and Switzerland. But that would leave the family with nothing when they return.

“When we get back home we would like to not immediately worry how we’re going to pay for rent,” he said.

Hallock says he is unsure what the outcome of his visits to Kansas and Switzerland will be. Both, he points out, have cured some patients.

“Because of what I believe about Jesus, I believe the best case scenario is full-on, totally healed,” Hallock said. “I’m not going to really settle for anything less than that. So I am going to fight for it in any avenue possible.”


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