Friday, September 7, 2007

Where I Am Right Now

I am a two time cancer survivor who also battles endometriosis, Fibromyalgia, chronic pain, nerve damage, chronic migraines due to Hormone Replacement Therapy because of a hysterectomy at age 30, multi-anemia, calcium deficiency, insomnia and more. Before my Hysterectomy, I also had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and would have periods which would last up to 8 weeks. During my treatments, which were experimental, I suffered acute calcium loss, which caused my teeth to try to suck the calcium from my body. This necessitated that I have $26,000 worth of dental work in the 4 months before my hysterectomy, while I was undergoing chemotherapeutic treatments and hormone suppression (forced menopause). During this time, in addition to the symptoms of forced menopause and experimental chemotherapy drugs, I had up to 5 dental procedures and surgeries a week and could not eat solid food for 4 and 1/2 months. I also worked the entire time because I needed the money and the insurance. I stopped working the week of my Hysterectomy. My Hysterectomy was my 5th abdominal surgery for my diseases in 2 and 1/2 years. My Hysterectomy, a surgical castration - the removal of my reproductive organs - as well as the removal of my endometrial adhesions, the scar tissue on my intestines, liver, pelvic floor and bladder, as well as the removal of endometrial implants from inside my bladder and the separation of my left fallopian tube from where it had grown into my intestine, it was discovered that at some point, my appendix had ruptured and healed itself. While this had kept me from dying, it also meant that my appendix had slowly been leaking toxins into my bloodstream and gut. The fibrous mass that had sealed over my appendix had become cancerous from all of the toxins passing through it, and the steady leak of toxins into my system had caused extensive damage to my nervous system as well as my other organs. Because of this, my medical struggle continues. I continue to have at least 3 doctor appointments a week, and often times more. I currently am receiving very expensive treatments to help flush my system of toxins and try to help my body maintain nutrients, as it is not doing so itself. I also get iron infusions for my multi-anemia and vitamin treatments for the chronic fatigue caused by the Fibromyalgia. I receive Trigger Point Injections in my face and cervical spine because my headaches are so intense. The suffering that I feel every day from the chronic pain and nerve damage in my body is almost unbearable some days. I am unable to work...some days, I am unable to sleep because I am in so much pain. It is so difficult to feel this way when I remember how active and incredible my life was once...and I know how desperately I want to live that way again. I currently have a Disability claim pending with Social Security. I applied for Disability as soon as I was able, meaning as soon as I was no longer employed the week of my surgery. Because I did not have a child and was not pregnant, I was not eligible for the majority of programs. The Disability program is currently 5 months behind and the Immediate Assistance program that they referred me to requires that I have a child to be eligible. I pay $600 a month to carry my insurance. The co-pays for my doctor visits range between $90 to $300. My monthly medication cost is at $1,000. My total medical debt, my portion to stay alive, is currently at over $400,000 and rising. To stay alive, just to be here...not knowing how I'm going to pay to get my medicine next month. I have finally reached a place of dead ends. I have exhausted all avenues. And so, I'm asking you, a stranger, for help. I know that I have given strangers, charities, people on websites that I frequent, money in times of need. Because they have been willing to ask for it. This is me being willing to ask for it. If you click on the Donate button below, it will take you to my Paypal page and you can donate directly to me. I am asking you to donate what you can. One dollar, five dollars, twenty all helps. I truly have reached a point of not knowing how I'm going to eat next week. And my desire to ride this wave out, see where life takes me, is stronger than my pride. I hope that you will find it in your heart to Donate if you can and to simply navigate away if you can't. There isn't any room for any more negativity in my heart or life at this time. And, whether or not you Donate, may the Universe bless and keep you, tonight and always. XOXO

Thursday, September 6, 2007

How It Got To Be Like This {Part 1}

I wasn't always someone who was willing to ask for help, or even accept it. Now, I am in a place where not only do I need to ask for help, but I need to ask for lots of help - from strangers, or else risk losing even the most basic of things that we take for granted every day.

I understand that everyone has a story. I don't begin to think that my story deserves more sympathy than anyone else's. I just finally believe that I should tell mine...that I should give you the opportunity to hear it, and possibly decide for yourself whether or not you would be willing to reach in and, from the goodness of your heart, help me make it another month.

I used to be the girl who, even though I came from nothing, seemed to have it all. I was born in a small town in a small state to parents who were young and didn't have much at all. Eventually, after tons of abuse and it being obvious to everyone but them that the situation wasn't working, my father came in the middle of the night and packed one paper grocery bag of my belongings. He drove through the night until we reached my grandmother's house in a different state. He brought me onto her porch and waited there with me as he rang and rang her bell and woke her from sleep. When she came to the door, he showed her the bag, pointed at me and said to her, "If you don't take her, I'm giving her to the state for foster care. We're not doing right by her. We keep hurting her and hurting each other in front of her. Do you want her? Will you take her?"

And so, she did. Eventually, she took my two younger sisters as well, and we made it by the skin of our teeth, as she would say. Money was always tight. Sometimes my father would come by when he said that he would with money for her, but more often he would not. My youngest sister was 4 years my junior, so my grandma wasn't able to work and care for us. Especially since she was of the old-school train of thought that you stayed home and reared children, but more than that because she knew that we had been through trauma already...that I had been abused and seen abuse. She wanted to baby us, she wanted to make me forget. She often would talk when I got older of how, when my sister cried, I would get up in the night to fix her bottle and how this broke her heart. She couldn't imagine how bad life had been for me with my parents, knowing that no one was caring for us, and that it was on me to make sure that my sisters were cared this meant that no one was caring for me.

My Grandma did the best she could, she wanted the best for us. She found religion, and she found a church. She believed she had found what would be our saving grace, the thing that would offer her redemption, that would offer *us* redemption. A different life. A way out of the way that life had always been. She had grown up poor and married the first man who had asked. He had turned out to be an abusive alcoholic. He kept a mistress that everyone, including her, knew about. He had children with the mistress. When my Grandma was six months pregnant with children 5 & 6, twins, he came home drunk and angry and kicked her in the stomach sending her toppling backwards down the stairs, telling her that he didn't want any more of her children.

When each of her children turned sixteen, my Grandmother signed their Marriage Certificates so that they could leave their abusive home. Each of her daughters, in turn, married men who turned out to be alcoholic and abusive. My mom turned sixteen on Christmas day. The day after, she married my dad. He was much older than her and from a family that didn't have a good reputation. They were basically the small town Gotti's...a small time crime family with visions of a much larger profit which would mean a willingness for harder crime. My dad, and his eleven brothers and sisters, didn't have an issue with doing one to get to the other. By the time that I was a young girl, stories ran rampant of them...girls as well as the men, showing up to run men out of their own businesses with chains and knives in hand. They were 'That Family'.

And because my Grandma didn't know what else to do, because she feared the damage that her own father would do to her if she stayed in her home, my Grandma signed my mom over to this dad. Soon, it was obvious that the marriage wouldn't be a happy one. It was apparent that the Marriage Certificate that my Grandma signed with a heavy heart thinking that she was making a sacrifice that would benefit her seed in the end, would not hold him. It became clear to my mom that like her father before him, her husband would have his cake and eat it too. He would have a mistress on the side...her own humiliation with a name that everyone would utter as she walked into the bar.

At the age of sixteen, she would become hardened, bitter, cynical...averse to the pain that this so-called love and its trappings would offer her. And so she curled up her nose and snarled at the crowd. She fought and she fought hard and she fought anyone. She drank and she drank heavy and she drank anything. She drank to make the pain go away and she drank to wash the pills down and she drank to forget the pain of already waking up beside him and she drank to forget the pain of the bruises that he left when she questioned him.