See below for an update to my profile...
It's been a tough 10 years. In 2002, I suffered a massive heart attack at the tender age of 39. The heart attack was a total surprise, as there was no previous knowledge, or known heart issues in my family history. Four days after the attack, I went in for a triple bypass that was unsuccessful. Although still alive, I was only surviving because of the heart-lung machine that was breathing for me. That even, while still under, I was transferred to a different hospital (Montefiore Medical Center, in the Bronx), where I remained in a coma for 4 weeks. Apparently, while on the operating table, I also suffered a minor stroke, which caused me not to be able to breathe on my own.
I suddenly regain my ability to breathe on my own after 4 weeks, and woke up soon after. However, the stroke completely scrambled my brain to the extent I could not read, see straight, walk on my own or even dial a telephone. Furthermore, I was on an LVAD machine to beat my heart for me. However, I was fortunate enough to receive a new heart just a few weeks later and left the hospital just a few weeks after that.
But this episode left me with a host of other issues. Because of the stroke, I was (and have been) unable to keep a full time job. I have four children, while deeply in love with them, possess numerous challenges. Two of my kids suffer from Aspergers Syndrome, my eldest child (my daughter) has been plagued with a number of physical issues and has a severe anxiety disorder (as does my youngest). All four of them have had to attend special needs programs in school. As they get older, the programs available to them is become more scarce and expensive.
My ex-wife has the awesome responsibility of co-raising the children on a school secretary's income. But that also includes the amount of time she needs to take off work to tend to numerous appointments (doctor, therapist, OT...) that I can't do myself.
The past two years have only added to the stress. When I was 20, I herniated a disk in my lower back that was finally operated on 18 years later (in 2000). However, arthritis set in badly and now, because of the stress on the disks that were fused during the surgery, the disk about the fusion has now herniated as well, making walking very difficult. In addition, just a month ago, I needed (and had) a full knee replacement. Added to all of this is an even more painful issue, gout. Because of my transplant (and the toxicity of the daily medications), I am unable to take any proactive medication to combat this very painful disease. Although I have dealt with a great number of painful issues, nothing seems are excruciating as a gout attack. Needless to say, I walk in pain daily, which makes working even my part time job a really tough challenge.
As I rehab my knee, I am hoping to return to at least a part time job. I am receiving disability, thankfully. But raising 4 kids with special needs has become a formidable task is becoming increasingly difficult. I am by no means a spendthrift. I live in a tiny one bedroom apartment (when my kids are by me, which is often), they sleep on a fold out couch in the living room). Their other home is their mother's small 3 bedroom apartment that eats up close to her salary itself.
I do not expect to be able to become debt-free. The costs associated with just the heart transplant are astronomical. I am thankful that Medicare takes care of most of my medical bills. But there are so many other expenses that are not covered that it eats a large chunk of whatever income I have. I do not wish to stop working and do not want to just rely on the goodness of others. But any help I receive is necessary and greatly appreciated.
My financial goal is to be able to get the proper schooling and placement for my children, as well as assistance in making ends meet. I realize the dollar amount is nowhere close to the total costs. But I feel bad enough having to ask for any amount. Thank you very much for reading this and G-d bless.
By the way, if you feel the need to confirm what I've written, please see my website (and story) at www.shaynezucker.com.
Update (November 25, 2012)
Unfortunately, I was recently hospitalized as my kidneys failed. It wasn't something I didn't eventually expect, but I had hoped I had more time. However, I have had to begin dialysis and so far, I'm not adjusting too well. I have been told I will eventually get used to it and feel more myself, but I do fear this is the new normal. For right now, I am unable to drive, due to constant dizziness and have barely been able to stomach food or drink (which is actually not a bad thing as too much fluid causes other problems).
It does get a bit overwhelming and I don't know where else to turn.