Anne + Jeff's Medical Fund
Surrounding Jeff + Anne
Early in the morning of November 1, Anne had an unexpected seizure and was rushed to the ER. Jeff did an amazing job of getting her the help she needed, and being with the woman he loves through a truly difficult set of circumstances.
In the next few days, Anne is going to need some emergency surgery.
There aren't a lot of answers right now, and, as you might imagine, there are a ton of questions and what-ifs looming on the horizon.
If you're anything like me, you'd love to jump on a plane/in a car/on a train/ride a donkey to get to them and surround them with love and care.
Since that's neither possible nor practical (Mardukas and Zooey do not like donkeys), let's surround them with support during this challenging season of unknowns.
Jeff is an adjunct professor, and Anne is a freelancer, so financial support—both for medical expenses and for covering the reality of lost income and other costs—is the best tangible form of support that we can provide.
Whether you can give a little or a lot, please consider blessing Anne and Jeff in this way, letting them know they are loved, cared for, and prayed for by people who have been touched by their stories, lives, and hearts.
Jeff is hosting a lot of calls and texts, a lot of people looking for updates, so please also consider respecting the overload of requests and overwhelm of medical information (or lack of) before contacting them directly.
I am so very grateful for the amazing community Jeff and Anne have around them, and how willing everyone is to come around them in this time.
We'll keep you updated as well can, and as is appropriate. If the financial need increases, we'll also let you know.
Thank you, in advance, for your love for the Overstreets.
Today, we celebrate Anne's birthday with immense amounts of gratitude: first, to God, who has been faithful through the pain and continues to be faithful through the journey of healing. Second, to the doctors and medical community who responded with wisdom and action, and have continued to support Anne in the often frustrating back-and-forth path of recovery. Finally, and every so deeply, to you, Jeff and Anne's community, who have supported them with prayers, with meals, with phone calls, and with overwhelming financial support.
Today, in celebrating Anne's birth and life in so many ways, we wanted to share a gift with you—her community of care.
Because of good insurance, many of the massive medical bills that were looming are are gone. Your gifts, both large and small, have made the transition into the new "normal" as smooth as it could possibly be. As a result, the gift that we'd like to give YOU on Anne's day is to say we are going to close this campaign.
When I (Tara) first started this GoFundMe page, we didn't even have a full picture of what was happening with Anne. Words like "tumor" and "brain surgery" were the talismans of trauma that we turned over over in our hands and hearts like heavy stones. The future was uncertain, the present even more tenuous.
To be honest with you, I was just desperate to DO something to support my dear friends. I was desperately researching quick flights from Colorado Springs to Seattle when I realized that my desire to be there (however grounded in love) was really about my desire to reassure myself in a frightening time for my friend. So, instead of reassuring myself, I turned toward something more practical for them—financial support for whatever lay ahead.
Three months later I continue to be in awe of what Jeff and Anne's friends and family have done. Together, you've raised nearly $30,000 to support them. Most of that was raised in the first two weeks of this journey. All of that was raised in donations of less than $1,500 at a time, most of less than $200. I hope you have a sense of how incredibly powerful that is—together (read that again: TOGETHER) small gifts added up to a huge amount.
As someone who has been through a traumatic health event myself, I can tell you how much it means to have the words, love, and backing of so many. Especially as recovery isn't a few days or a few weeks long, but months and months of adjusting to the new normal.
And speaking of "new normal," last week marked Anne's final occupational and physical therapy appointments. Her therapists are excited about her recovery, and have said that the right side of her body is making incredible progress. She was released with their blessing to continue her recovery on her own with simple PT and OT exercises that she can do at home.
In that same way, with Jeff and Anne's blessing, I'd like to release you—Anne's spiritual and emotional specialists—as well. Because of your support, Anne is ready to "go home" to the every day of life-after-brain-surgery with simple exercises she can do on her own. (Please know this doesn't mean you're released from friendship! Just from this GoFundMe campaign.)
Together today, let's celebrate Anne's birth and life, and celebrate your own part in being part of an amazing artistic, prayerful community of care that has made this milestone possible. As a mom, I know it takes a village to raise a child, but through this experience I've seen how we each have a village around us, sometimes more visible, sometimes less, who support and care for us through the ups and downs of each moment of life. It's been a humbling honor to have been able to bear witness to the village of people supporting and loving Jeff and Anne.
So, get yourself a cupcake or a donut or a piece of fruit. Put a candle in it, in honor of Anne's day and in honor of this community, and celebrate life today. (You could even post a picture, if you'd like!) And receive this blessing over you, a blessing that is centuries old and full of the love of God, and a token of our gratitude:
“The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His face on you and give you peace.”
With a heart full of gratitude and celebration,
Things have taken a difficult turn here — not the way we'd hoped to spend our last week of 2016.
It was a quiet Christmas indeed, the only celebratory activity being a visit from Laura Lasworth who blessed us with good bread and chocolate cake. And we all watched a great Christmas movie. Which one? Do I even need to say it? Isn't it obvious? Jim Jarmusch's DOWN BY LAW, starring Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Roberto Begnini. "We all scream for ice cream." That was all joy.
But the challenge now is that Anne's physical rehabilitation for her right arm and right hand have been postponed due to the onset of edema (a very painful swelling — in Anne's case, attacking her right arm, wrist, and hand) that is apparently a common consequence of the surgery. This means she can't use that hand much at all. No typing, lifting, or holding a pen. It hurts all of the time and makes sleep difficult. It requires frequent massage and soaking in both hot and cold water. This setback is very discouraging for her, as she is so eager to get back to work.
Her head is also dealing with intermittent, jabbing pains that are a normal part of the recovery for nerves that are reconnecting after brain surgery. And — apparently this, too, is normal post-brain-surgery experience — she hears a ticking in her head, like Captain Hook hearing the crocodile.
I'm doing what I can to make her comfortable and to manage things around the house, while planning my new classes (which start next week!)
We continue to draw encouragement from the many Christmas cards you've sent, the visits, the phone calls, the emails, the donations. Please keep us in your prayers, and feel free to ask us to pray for you... as that is something we *can* do. Pray for relief from pain, for healing, and for our 2017. Even though I'm working more than full-time, we are not currently earning enough to stay in Seattle much longer. Something will have to change, and soon. We wait on the Lord. We know our experiences as editors, teachers, and writers have prepared us for some kind of service. We hope to find out what that is in 2017.
First of all, thank you.
Thank you for supporting us in prayer, friendship, and donations. We are still in a waiting period as the slow wheels of hospital billing turn, and we do not yet know the magnitude of the bills we will be facing for the ER, the surgery, the subsequent visits and scans, the medications, the occupational therapy, and the physical therapy. But we know that the burden will be lighter because of your support and generosity, and we count that as something close to "a Christmas miracle." Thank you.
Instead of traveling to visit family, attending concerts, or hosting parties, Anne and I will be staying home this Christmas, as she is under strict instructions to take breaks — on an almost hourly basis — from stress, work, and hard thinking. She is very easily fatigued. But if you know Anne, you know that she is not easily persuaded to surrender the controls — she likes to drive, she likes to work, she likes to keep busy. So, if we come to your mind this Christmas, pray that we are blessed with peace and quiet.
Pray for patience and resilience as Anne does daily occupational-therapy exercises for her right hand, which is still not functioning properly, and which is very sore from the strain of the therapy.
Pray for comfort and deep sleep, as all of this sedentary time has provoked some problems with her back and set one of her ribs wrong. That is causing pain when she rests, which isn't helping anything.
While these challenges test our patience, we are constantly aware that we have been extraordinarily blessed, and that so much that could have gone wrong... didn't. She is awake enough to enjoy reading, writing, phone calls, correspondence, the occasional snowfall, the purring cats, her favorite shows, and the avalanche of chocolate that some of you have sent her. She is sharp-minded enough to ease her way back into freelance editing. And we are both optimistic and full of hope about the future.
We would not be in this place, so full of gratitude and encouragement, without you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
My dearests, my lovelies, what I want to do with my hours and fits of energy and clarity is fly from state to state, look each of you in the eye (even Anonymous) and try to communicate the strength and encouragement this community has given me these past strange months. A bite of potato cheddar soup, a small sampling of moss from Colorado (I'm a big fan of bryology), hearing OTR's "Home" live, seeing the small moments of Seren Owen's day through the lens of her mother's eye, long conversations with my parents and Jeff's, these are a small sampling of the grace that has come from you and that stops my grumbling tongue some days, makes my confined world large. Alternatively, I would send you all a bushel of New Mexico pecans and a packet of roasted green chilis and a box of my mother's fudge. But I can't get to the Post Office, since I am not cleared to drive yet. So then I think about penning (or typing) up long and hopefully profound individual letters of thank you. Yet every hour of writing or typing has to be followed up by not using my hand for thirty minutes (I am failing at this). Since part of my daily allotted time to work with my hand has to go to a work project, and because the right hand gets fatigued and weak rather quickly, I am severely limited in what I can do. Jeff has done almost all of the corresponding. So instead of waiting until we get enough mileage points to travel across multiple states, or we get back home to New Mexico, or the recovery of my hand and finger muscles reach their recovery target, I will just have to ramble through a perhaps unnecessarily lengthy attempt at expressing our gratitude and try to express the pleasure we receive from hearing your 'voices'. Think peaty whiskey kind of warm, or a murmuring pinewood fire kind of joy, or a grilled cheese and tomato soup after sledding kind of cosiness, a sending off of the final packet for an MFA quarter kind of hoorah. I'd spin and cheer through a list of your names if I could, but I'd probably fall over right now. Maybe later.
I don't know Anne and Jeff but I know Tara loves them and if they mean so much to Tara then they mean a lot to me. Praying for the surgeon's sure and skilful touch, strength and healing for Anne and strength and comfort for Jeff. May their commitment to each other and their sense of humour (I know they have such a thing, I've seen Jeff's posts) carry them through this difficult time. Perhaps Anne will wake up able to play the violin...
Dearest friends, Jeff and Anne, I feel as if you're on a journey, on a sailboat dependent on wind. Then I remember wind is a word for Spirit and as we adjust our sails to the wind direction we continue to move ahead and thank God for a boat that doesn't leak. As well, you two have a large crew of shipmates and a bunch of paying passengers. The safe harbor is ahead. And the weather is good! With love and big hugs, let's have a party when we land! Luci
Brian and I pray for you Anne and Jeff. O God, the great I AM, Emmanuel, God with us, comforter, healer, please be with these two and their supporters to bring more of your healing ,and strength. Help them to never grow weary or tired but to rest in YOU. Blessings, Maryfrances
Praising God with you Jeff! I am trying to imagine Anne with her new "look"-----and know that Life itself is nothing but beautiful, and God's grace so on display through your lives is breathtaking. Thank you for these words and your faithfulness. Much love, Leslie
I do hope that Anne recovers fully with no lingering effects. To prevent so many phone calls from well-wishing friends, I would suggest that someone set up an account for her and do daily posts on CaringBridge.org. Then everyone following the progress of Anne's recovery will be able to know the latest news. My friend's toddler grandson was in intensive care for more than two weeks, and CaringBridge kept all of us who love them up to date.
What a privilege to read all these words, from Tara, from Jeff, and to participate in the way words deliver to us, their experience, though I am thousands of miles away. My heart is moved---to praise, to thankfulness for the body of Christ around you, for the riches of God's many graces. And so many more are needed, I know! I will not cease carrying you and Ann in my prayers, with thanksgiving, and with hope. Love, Leslie
So thankful the surgery was successful. Yes, now, healing . .." Lord, we know you are present in Anne's heart, soul and body. We ask that you knit her together again perfectly, just as you did when you formed her. Thank you for your constant presence, no matter the storm. We wait upon you, trusting you entirely." Love, Leslie
I am very glad you take the time to write these updates because both Anne and you have been on my mind so very much.. prayers and love to you.
Thank you for these good words, Ann. I don't know you except through what Jeff and Tara write about you, but I did have the privilege of taking a writing workshop with Jeff at Laity Lodge about seven years ago or so. It was a privilege to be able to contribute in some small way to your difficult journey these past few months and I am so grateful for your updates! I have two dear friends who have dealt with brain surgery issues so am familiar with the hard work you are now enduring. Hang in there! You've already come so very far -- it won't be much longer.