Please Help Me NOT Be Homeless
My name is Kristal Crow. I am disabled with Spinal Degenerative Disease, nerve damage to my left side, continual right knee dislocations, left knee deterioration and pain; two torn rotator cuffs, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and FM/CFS. I can only stand upright and walk for short bursts with the aid of crutches and a knee brace. My personal doctors and State physicians from two different states have labeled me as formally disabled and unfit for work as far back as 2009. Since my original injuries were in an accident at home in 2005 followed by another in 2006, and I fought for years against the ongoing, ever-increasing pain until I became mostly bedridden. My home was foreclosed upon in 2009, and I was bankrupted in May of 2010. I originally filed for SSI/Disability in 2009. The scant money I had remaining from selling off my bits and pieces (plus cashing in my little bit of pension) that allowed me to stay in a rental property ran out in January of 2012. After then, my single remaining relative was kind enough to let me put a tiny camper on her property and stay in that until now, saving me from homelessness and exposure in January of 2012. All this time, I was continually refused Disability, even with the backing of all those doctors, plus my continued inability to sit, stand, or walk for more than minutes.
Unfortunately, now the property owned by my relative is being sold, my relative is moving out of state, does not want to be a carer, and I have nowhere to go. I was forced to sell my vehicle in 2013 in order to pay for prescriptions, so I have no way to move the camper. The camper has no running water, bathroom, kitchen, electrical hookups, or refrigeration. I do run an electrical cord through the door for heat and AC, but the heater is dying and the camper isn’t sealed-I have duct tape on most of the window edges, but it gets really cold in the winter. In my current (mostly bedridden) condition, even if I had a vehicle to pull it, I couldn’t physically hook it up – and right now, in my condition and being on crutches, I cannot move it even if I had somewhere to go.
I had a hearing in Richmond, VA in the beginning of July that moved my Disability case to the Eastern North Carolina Federal Court District (yes, I have a Disability attorney), which means I cannot leave that area (basically from Raleigh to the Atlantic).
Right now, I am in Ahoskie, NC. I have been talking extensively with Social Services, local churches, and shelters everywhere from Greenville to Elizabeth City to Raleigh, and there is nothing for me. The main problem being is that I am disabled and bedridden, but not yet on Disability. Shelters require that you leave between 5-7 am and be actively looking for work, others are only for women with children, others are for only men, most require that you have income of some sort, and others require that you perform all kinds of house chores as well as actively looking for work. There is NOTHING for people who are disabled, have very limited mobility/are bedridden, have pain issues and have no income (I’ve had no income for almost 4 years now, and have been living off the sale of the remainder of my bits from the rental and the sale of my van, plus donations from generous people and food from SNAP and the food bank).
If this property sells before my court date – which is not yet determined but MAY be as early as December – I will have nowhere to go. I have to get this out in public now, because if I wait until there is a contract on the property, it will be far too late. It may be too late already, but I’ve got to try.
All the leads I have been given, I have followed up on and asked for more. There is no help to be found, and I have no idea what is going to happen to me. Here in Ahoskie, I really don’t know anyone. Since my court venue has been changed I MUST stay in this Federal Court District until my case is over with no income, no carer, and no support from a system I’ve paid into all of my working life.
At this time, people are looking at the house on a near daily basis. I cannot just sit on my hands and ‘hope’ the property doesn’t sell without doing anything to try to help myself. I really have nothing left to sell that would bring me enough money to live on for several months – for an apartment I would need security deposits, rent, utility deposits, utility payments, help moving; I would have to pay someone to clean and help care for me; I have no furniture – no bed, no chairs; no housewares, no laundry facilities or stove & refrigerator - no anything. I would need transportation since I have no vehicle, which would include insurance, gas money, inspection, registration. This is a LOT of money, and it still doesn’t really solve any problems, unless I have a TON of money to keep payments like utilities, insurance, car repairs, and personal care going…and I don’t. I don’t have an income, and haven’t had one for four years.
The only thing I can think of is an adaptation of what has already worked once. A camper. But this time, a Class C RV. They are small, but are self-contained, and are transportation and living space all in one. On Craigslist (considering that I won’t be able to afford repairs), the decent used ones are going for around $7000. On top of that, I’d need $2-3,000 more for taxes, fees, titling, registration, plates, insurance and gas, with a little left to live on. Plus a PO Box – I have to still have a local address. Something like this would allow me to still live in the area, keep my doctors and still have transportation, all in one. Staying in State Parks is free for two weeks at a time, skipping from one to another, plus staying at truck stops and Walmart parking lots are all options.
Perhaps even someone out there knows someone who would donate an unused or unwanted RV? Anything is possible. It just has to be mechanically sound because of my physical condition, and must have a bedroom, bath and kitchen.
I’d have to be very careful – I can’t walk without crutches, and I’d still have to deal with not being able to move around much, so dealing with the water tanks and generator would still be difficult, but since it’s an RV, you can just park it and be done, there’s none of the setup that a trailered camper requires that I cannot physically handle any more. It’s far from safe, but it’s not being homeless on the street, and that’s my only other option.
I know this was a long read, and I appreciate it if you made it this far. For folks that have suggestions on what kind of charities to try, please make sure that you personally know that they can help me. I’ve already tried Goodwill (no help), the Salvation Army (no help), and every shelter that Social Services could tell me about (all no help). I’ve also tried all of the local churches, leaving several messages, and have only been called back by ONE. It is completely disheartening to have to go through this round-robin of calling and being continually told no, or worse, having people act nastily over the phone when you have to explain this torturous story over and over of why you need help. I appreciate ideas, but if you have a specific charity in mind, please make sure that they can handle incomeless, bedridden people in Eastern North Carolina before passing on their information. If they can, please do pass along any information you have and I will contact them GLADLY.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I’ve felt so helpless and hopeless for a very long time. Every time I get the slightest bit of good news, I just get my feet kicked out from under me again. Please signal boost all you can. I’m pretty desperate, as I’m sure you can tell.
Thank you for listening, and for any assistance you may have.
I went home to Richmond. I didn't know where else to go. I met with my disability attorney, and found that the office in NC never communicated anything back to Richmond - and they didn't contact me, either. This was when I found that I lost my case. The good news? Well, I could start another case and add all the things that had happened since 2010...but I needed to stay in the area.
I was very, VERY lucky. An old friend put me in touch with a new friend, and suddenly, after living outdoors since 2012, I was able to live indoors again!
I ended up selling the RV for about what I paid for it, and then turned around and bought a car that I could put my wheelchair in. I got a new doctor - this one wants me in a powerchair, too (will NEVER be able to afford it, lol!) - and got my first MRI in over 7 years. I have one disc that is totally black and dead, and the others nearby are arthritic. Facet joints are all narrow, no surgical option, expect continued deterioration. I had a slight hope, but this result is realistic, and expected. There’s going to be no cure for this, and I’m bedridden and wheelchair-bound for the most part now. I do get to get out now, and it’s made all the difference in my life.
I still haven't been able to get in to see a rheumatologist, but I'm still trying. The medical care I've been able to get lately is better than I've been able to access in the last 5 years in North Carolina. At least I'm not so far out that I can't physically get to the doctor's office!
I'm also back in therapy, thank goodness. Dealing with decades of abuse issues, and apparently PTSD now as well. Living outside and in abusive conditions apparently makes you REALLY jumpy. I'm so jumpy that when I'm startled, I can flail, throw things, scream, etc. It's more than embarrassing, it feels as if I'm going to faint. I'm hoping to get more desensitized as time goes on.
So now, I'm living indoors, and I'm having the nicest Christmas I've had in several years, with a roommate that has become a friend like I haven't known since High School, and several new friends that have become my family. All people that KNOW Fibro or chronic illness. People who don't tell me I'm faking, or that I'm some kind of drug addict for being in bed. People who UNDERSTAND.
It's like walking out of the desert into a tropical paradise. I literally don't know how to act. My therapist is helping with that, too.
Friends have advised me to keep this GFM open, since at this time, I STILL have no income. As of last notice from my Disability attorney, Social Security has not yet responded to my new case. I'm trying to sell my jewelry, but I don't really have a large audience for it. I'm trying, though! With that in mind, if you would like to buy something pretty, please check https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheRealCrystalCrow for my handmade jewelry, and https://www.facebook.com/TheCrystalCrow for vintage/estate jewelry.
Unfortunately, there are still bills to be paid: car insurance, prescriptions, phone; things still need to be bought, from car repairs to toilet paper. If you can contribute anything, I would be very grateful.
I want to thank everyone who has contributed throughout the years. You have literally kept me alive in more ways than you know, and I am so grateful for each and every one of you.
Thank you all for your support.
But I've got Medicaid back now, and Social Services was unable to tell me why I lost it in the first place. I know that North Carolina has a horrendous problem with it's computer system that administers Social Services programs, so it was pretty much down to "computer error". The good thing is, now that I have it back, I can resume treatment at the pain clinic, hooray!
Other good news is that the RV is running again. It needed a new (expensive) battery, and the cable leads were falling apart. Johnny came over and set up the AC filters and did more repair work, so everything should be ready for summer. That's a good thing, because it's hot already! I still need to get the exhaust fixed. That has taken so long! I finally found a place in Virginia that can do it, but I have to make an appointment for a day when it isn't raining, and drive 1.5 hours to get there. Unfortunately, driving has gotten really difficult and painful lately, especially since I've had to come off of most of my pain meds due to the Medicaid loss. I'll be back on them soon, and the pain doctor has a bunch of new therapies to try, too, but I'm still screaming involuntarily every time I have to sit or stand. The pain is that bad, and I scare people all around me. It's embarrassing having the attention pulled to you because you can't help screaming in pain. (>.<) I also still do not have a working refrigerator. I can't afford to have it repaired unless I have donations for it. Everything I've got left is earmarked for survival, and the fridge repair is a luxury, same as the stove vent. I can't cook on the stove because the vent needs to be repaired as well, another luxury! At least I've got my donated microwave thanks to GameplayJenny. :)
My wheelchair prescription was gone with the wind when I lost Medicaid as well, so I've called the doctor to get another one, backdated for submission to my Disability case. I'm hoping to hear something from my attorney soon. I can't believe this has gone on as long as it has. Now the pain is so bad I'm effectively immobilized, even with a wheelchair, since sitting alone is so painful. The pain doctor says that I'm way too unstable on two canes, however, so the wheelchair is a must, especially since I'm now losing feeling/nerve & reflex impulses in my lower legs.
Thanks to everyone who has stuck by me for so long. I appreciate all the caring and love - it's been incredible, and I could not have made it this long without you all. Thanks also to donators, sharers, tweeters, streamers, and everyone who chipped in with moral support. I owe everything to you. I wouldn't have a roof over my head or a phone to call my doctors. I can't thank you enough.
Any donations are appreciated, as I still don't know how long I have to go before Disability is settled, and I still have medication, phone, RV repairs and soft goods (think TP and soap, etc) recurring costs, and I need to pay for the electricity I'm using. I also still have an Amazon Wishlist for (usually RV related) odds & ends: http://amzn.com/w/3TO4Y4ANIMA62
Thank you again for all the help, and all the love.
I got the interior of the RV set up so I can lie down practically anywhere, and got a lot of little bits and pieces of sorting done. I've been organizing cabinets really slowly, and I made a lot of room and sorted through a lot of stuff. Everything was so disorganized since I had no time to get in the RV since the shop had it for so long, and then it was cold, and my body can't move in the cold. Now that it's warming up, I'm finally able to get a bit more done!
I got to hang my clothes outside since the weather has been so nice and everything smells like spring. I've been keeping the door open as much as I can, but the wasps seem to want to cohabit, which is a definite NO for me!
And there's still mending! Everything is so worn out that every time I do wash, something will need a stitch or two, so I've had my sewing box down for the last month. I still have about 4 big jobs to go, and endless little ones. I gave a crochet lesson a couple weeks ago and my knit & crochet bag is still down. Have to get that back up into the cabover. Anything not put away is clutter!
I had a friend put me on to an RV service center that can certainly do the AC unit, but they're over 3 hours away, and 3 hours driving this is more than I can handle at once. If I can't find something closer, I may end up going north instead, since Richmond is only 2 hours, I have friends there, plus I know the area. The dealership that originally sold this RV is still in business, and I know where it is. I think I'm just scared to make a move because it isn't going to be cheap. But it has to be done. I'll have to be making some phone calls this week to see what I can find out.
Speaking of phone calls, here's something funny. Every day for the last week, I've been getting phone calls from a High School in Ahoskie about my daughter Polly who is skipping school like crazy, first four classes every day. It's a recorded call, and when you call back, you also get an automatic voicemail. So I had to call, and tell them that my nonexistent daughter Polly had pulled a fast one and given the wrong number for her parents. Some fun!
Thanks for all the support! The wishlist is back up with a few RV things on it: http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/3TO4Y4ANIMA62 and, as always, donations are appreciated, as the RV repairs were much more comprehensive than I had estimated.
Thank you, and much love,
Now to tell you the cool part of what happened last weekend, and hopefully get us caught up to yesterday, which was confusing, horrible, and a huge step backwards.
Good news FIRST!
After getting back from the pain clinic, errands and grocery shopping last Friday, as usual I could barely move. I finally got all the braces off and could lie flat to help the pain go away. I was down for no more than five minutes when Dorothy called, asking if I wanted Johnny, since he was in town.
Oh YES I DID want Johnny - he's the man that has been working on the RV for me, but it is difficult for him to get out to where I am. I had just gotten the last parts (the headlight assemblies, thank you folks!) plus I'd been waiting for him to do a lot more. I told Dorothy though, I couldn't be any help, I was down and there wasn't really any getting up. So Johnny came, and brought his daughter, Kayla, who was going to stay the night and help Dorothy the next day.
After Johnny was done, I had headlights that were no longer falling out when I drove, new cargo clips, other things I can't remember because of Fibromyalgia and exhaustion, but MOST importantly HOT WATER for the first time. It was amazing, but I was in too much pain to take a shower that day.
There were a bunch of things that still needed to be done, but needed specialty tools that Johnny hadn't brought with him, plus a laundry list of things I had forgotten due to pain and exhaustion. I've got to take the RV to him now, where he can do the rest. Unfortunately, he doesn't do exhaust, refrigeration or RV AC. Still need to find people (or a place) for that.
Saturday I don't remember much of except Dot & Kayla doing metal and trash runs, and I was swapping winter and summer clothes since I had Kayla helping me on Sunday and I was already - I should actually say STILL - exhausted from Friday and Saturday.
Dot & Kayla made us a nice picnic dinner cookout on Saturday night, and we ate burgers, dogs & steaks under the stars. It was the best. I had just had my first RV hot shower ever, and my first meat that wasn't out of a can in a really long time. It was a really happy night. Made me miss actually having my own home, when I had people in & out all the time. I really missed my Ginter Street house and all the people who would walk in the door, sit on the porch, cookout in the back yard, and come for the Tacky Tour when it was dripping with 42k+ Christmas lights. I was dripping myself a little, that night, missing the home I once made.
Sunday was Kayla & I, and I don't know how I was still moving. All the prep I did helped, so she was my legs and moved things into the cabover, did laundry, and helped me empty tanks. I also gave her a crochet lesson in the middle of all that. Then I was going to need to drive her home, which is quite a way, but Dot worked it out so I could drop her halfway with her grandmother - I think everyone was wondering how I was staying upright by that time. By the time I got back, I could barely see, barely move.
In my last update, I explained about the doctor difficulties. What I learned today made all that I had to fight for pointless.
The last few nights, I haven't been sleeping much. Because of all I've had to do over the last week, I've gotten caught in a pain loop where I can never seem to get enough rest before something else absolutely has to be taken care of. I can't seem to get any adequate sleep or rest of any kind without being woken up by pain every couple of hours. With all of the wrangling going on with the doctors, plus the rain, I've been unable to get the RV out to pick up my prescription, and I was down to one day's supply left.
Today, I was able to drive Dot's car into town (slowly, there was something wrong) in order for it to get fixed, and she would follow so I could finally pick up meds.
So I did pick up my paper prescription, and when I went to get it filled, they told me that I no longer had Medicaid and the cost was approximately $296.00.
That was when everything fell apart. For a while, I tried to call every social worker in my network, which didn't turn out so well. Then Dot, who had a ton of other things to do, along with her mom, who had a bad fall the night before, took me to Social Services in Ahoskie to find out what had happened. They had no idea. I had to go to the main office in Winton to find out.
Before I go any further, two things. One, sitting, walking and standing is very painful for me. Two, I had been out far past the point that I could handle, so I was LITERALLY screaming with pain every time I had to stand up. Everywhere I went, offices were emptying to see what was going on. This is why it is so hard for me to go out, especially alone. If Dorothy hadn't been with me to explain to people what was happening, I don't know if I could have even spoken through the pain. I certainly couldn't have driven. Dorothy was my hero. I have needed someone to go to appointments with me and drive me ever since I came down here, and no one in my blood family was capable of being a carer, which is fine - not everyone is. Now Dot has volunteered to be my medical contact person, which is great because I have been leaving that blank on everything since the eviction. Good things do come from bad!
Well, now that we were at the headquarters, I was told that I no longer had Medicaid because my case was now a civil case. This was no surprise to me, as my case has been a civil case for around two years now. It was a civil case when I obtained Medicaid in the first place.
So basically, I lost Medicaid because 'North Carolina'.
I have to reapply for Medicaid now, which luckily they will help me with over the phone so I can lie down.
I also apparently have to reapply for Disability, even though I have an open case. My attorney is mailing me all the pertinent case numbers and such that state "Yes, I DO have an ongoing Disability case that is still open with Social Security", BUT I still have to go to Social Security and sit there as long as it takes to find out what is going on, because this is something that cannot be done over the phone.
I'll be completely honest. This scares me to death. It's going to cause me so much pain to just sit that it's like I'm signing up to be tortured on purpose.
I have no idea if this is some other crazy tactic to make me give up or what. All I know is that I'm exhausted, all the work I have done fighting for decent healthcare this week has been for nothing since I'll have to cancel every single appointment I've made.
That means I lose the wheelchair I've been prescribed as well. I'm hoping that maybe Dot can pick up a used manual one somewhere.
Another odd thing. Someone had to physically DO this, make this actual change in the system. When did this happen and why was I not told? It had to be within the last week, or I'd never had that Pain Management appointment.
Because North Carolina?
Thanks for listening, everyone. Things have been crazy this week and it doesn't look like it's going to stop. I need donations now more than ever because I still need meds but will now have to pay for them. Luckily, I can get them at a sliding scale at the clinic, but they still cost more than the appointments, which were free under Medicaid but I now will have to pay for. I don't get any extras now, so therapy will be gone as well. The only reason I could afford it was Medicaid.
If you are so inclined, here is the Amazon wishlist: http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/3TO4Y4ANIMA62
Thank you everyone - sharers, donators, listeners, tweeters, people who send love, people who care.
I guess the upside is that without these doctor's appointments, I can really widen the search for getting this exhaust done. Does anyone know ANYPLACE on the East Coast that can get an RV in the garage and get it up on the lift? Even Camping World in Raleigh can't, and this is only a Class C. Also looking for someone who knows how to fix Norcold RV ref
Cindy, that's the thing - I thought it would be super easy to find somewhere to have this done, but the places that have the pits are not tall enough to get the RV into, and the places where the bays ARE tall enough, either the lifts are of the wrong type or cannot take the weight. I thought Camping World was my ace in the hole, but they sell and service RVs and THEY can't even do it. I've had every small shop around say they could if they could just get under it, but they've got no way to get under it, and I have tried every place in town. This RV, even though it's not huge, is taller than most of the auto shops I've tried to take it to. There's nothing around in Hertford County, NC. Wish there was, since now this is going to take a road trip for something I thought was going to be simple, and I'm not able to handle driving well lately. Well, it has to be fixed!
i can't do much but offer my prayers for you situation, i'll pray for you every day that something works out
It blows my mind how you can't get someone to fix your exhaust. When I was a kid travelling with my family in our Motor Home the exhaust started to burn the insulation and the vehicle started to fill with smoke. We were in the middle of Saskatchewan and found a smallish (7,000) town and they fixed it right up for us, they had to replace almost all of it. They didn't put it up on a lift, they had a pit they drove it over. :/ How can there not be somewhere that can fix yours? All the hugs.
Hello.Ive been reading about your progress and your journey.
I just ordered something from Amazon two out of the 3 items could not be shipped to your address (the gray matter liquid and the wand) but the 3rd item the vacuum could so it should be there around the end of the month. Sorry. I tried. :) Best wishes and daily prayers.
Thanks for the share, Jack :)
:'(, I shared via Facebook
Dear Kristal I donated earlier and shared your plight on my facebook page. I know what you are going thru as I watched my twin sister go thru the same thing as far as loosing everything including her life, 4 years ago today when we were 40 years old, from the results of what Systemic Lupus did to her body because it was too late when she finally qualified for Disability and Medicare to get the aggressive care she needed at that point it was just a maintenance. Please do everything you can to continue your medical care I know it is hard with the medicine and medical expenses please do not give up. It is all a bunch of RED TAPE and sooner than later I pray you get through it and get the assistance you need.
Heber, There is, but you have to process it as a donation or gift from your end, since donations are coming in as payment for services or goods instead and I have to pay taxes on them. I'll send you my email on Facebook Chat if you'd like to try. :)
Kristal, there is any way to donate using PayPal?
I would give a bit of money if I wasn't a teenager with no money or payment method because I just get given basically nothing and it took about ten minutes to read your story in depth and I just couldn't believe how harsh the world is to you and that just annoys me because when people are left alone to just be on their own completely it just reminds me of me at high school. Yes I am English by the way that's why I comment and watch the stream at this time. My stream name was TermoonatorT26 by the way and I know you have a very harsh life compared to everyone else including me. Hopefully you reach your goal.
Thank you, Connor - now I understand what Mary meant - my apologies, Mary - I'd no idea. There were some inflammatory things posted, plus some things that were defending me, and I didn't want to have that kind of thing on this page. I appreciated all the defense, and the original inflammatory poster put up things that were just untrue, so I ended up putting up links to all of my personal social media, going back about 6 years to prove who I am and some of the things I've been through. It's all over, and I just want people to feel welcome here, and that I am so grateful for all the kindness and support that I've received, My apologies for any misunderstandings or miscommunications!
First of all i am truly inspired and amazed at your bravery to post this knowing how harsh the internet can be. I think Mary was confused as to why this post received inflammatory comments when many people who live such lucky lives don't receive any on their posts whatsoever. i just heard of your story from Kayei Dream. I cant personally donate to you for lack of payment methods but i hope you reach your goal and have as great a future as possible.
Mary, I don't understand what you are responding to. There were inflammatory posts, they have been removed. I've seen nothing here now from you until this post, so I'm a bit confused.
Why is this posting inflammatory?There are young healthy people asking for and getting thousands to buy cars, go to school and take trips.
Cyndy: That is easier said than done, and when you are in chronic severe pain, at times you literally pass out from it. It is beyond difficult to focus and to be productive, when you vomit regularly because of the sheer magnitude of the pain. Kristal has tried everything she can.
Maybe you could find an online job. Like where you only need to work on the computer. I hope it helps :l
I believe who she is and her situation Howard, otherwise I would not have donated hours ago. I was questioning Alan as his research was sketchy and incomplete and if you are going accuse someone of being shady perhaps he should have actually clicked on the website he posted. :) Glad you posted more info tho, for those skeptics out there. :D Cheers!
I'm so sorry that this is happening to you. I saw this on the Minecraft Twitter feed and clicked because I enjoy sharing these things. If I could help more than simply getting your link out there, I would, but I too am facing homelessness. I sincerely hope and wish that your situation is fixed promptly and I am so sorry that you're having trouble with Disability. I've been getting the run-around from them, too. Hang in there, Kristal.