Henry's Healthcare War

Henry's family and friends are uniting to raise money to help pay  for his overwhelming and never ending medical bills which he's responsible for 20 % of the total costs for hospitalization, diagnostic tests, doctor and specialist visits and any other out of pocket expenses including prescription co-payments. 80% of the covered costs are paid by Medicare.

But Medicare alone isn't enough to pay for all of my co-payments, or any other out of pocket expenses such as medical equipment which depending on the type of equipment is not always covered as durable medical equipment under Medicare.

For the last two years or so, I have had to pay my co-payments and out of pocket expenses, and totally depleting my bank account. It once included my rainy day fund that was to be used exclusively to help make up the difference in case I had an unexpected situation where I couldn't afford paying my out of pocket expenses with what I had left over after paying my monthly living expenses from my monthly disability payment.

The reason I am asking for help now is because I was stricken with multiple illnesses in a very short period of time. And the bills generated because of one illness after the other has overwhelmed me financially. There simply isn't enough money from SSDI(Social Security Disability Insurance) which is my only source of what is classified as income to pay for my co-payments, and out of pocket expenses without sacrificing the monthly rent, the food I need to sustain the nutrients needed for maintaining my relatively poor health or any other vital expense I have in order for me to survive and avoid hospitalization again.

And whatever else that's left over, goes to pay for transportation costs to and from the many doctors, and specialists appointments, and diagnostic tests that are currently scheduled more than 3 times a month to Pittsburgh from East Brady which is over 1 and 1/2 hours one way from my residence. The twice weekly trips to and from the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center in Kittanning which is 45 minutes one way. Rent, food, prescription co-payments, doctors co-payments, helathcare premium, fuel, car maintanence, insurance coverage, cable TV, internet access, phone, toiletries, etc., all put a tremendous strain with my monthly budget and has wiped out my savings. And finally, my credit cards are maxed out because I used them to pay off some of the outstanding bills after I depleted what I had saved in my bank account. So, I am in dire straits currently and struggling to keep my head above water from this tsunami of bills and expenses which I can no longer afford to pay for all of them.
This is why I am humbly asking for help.

Prior to becoming intimately familiar again with the UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) hospitals, I was living a relatively healthy life. And after working for many years on a part time basis, I was able to work full time again for a short period of seven months as a Welding Instructor @ a State University college in Western New York. Until one day I could no longer, and so I resigned because of my illnesses flaring up and making it impossible to for me to work even part time again. Please allow me to back track briefly from the beginning of the history that describes my journey through the multiple episodes of illnesses I have experienced over the years.

On October 8th, 1997, I was given the gift of life - a Liver Transplant due to having End Stage Liver Disease from Cirrohsis of the Liver caused by Hepatitis C that was a result of a blood transfusion back in 1987 because I was assaulted, and left for dead by a subway station in New York City which is where I grew up.

Working as a journeyman Boilermaker/Tube Welder, I went back on the road to work in many different types of power plants and making some good money from all of the overtime. I worked until one day just before Memorial day in 1993 when the blood vessels in my throat ruptured causing internal bleeding which forced me to get to the Emrgency room ASAP! There's more to this episode but, it would take too long to cover all of the details.

To make a long story short, I was life flighted out of a hospital in Johnstown, PA and sent to UPMC in Pittsburgh via helicopter. After being stabilized in UPMC's ICU, I was told that I needed a liver transplant but, I would have to wait because of my overall condition being better than most of the other candidates on their transplant waiting list at the time. Nonetheless, after being thoroughly evaluated I was accepted to be put on the Liver Transplant list @ UPMC based on the severity of my overall health a month and a half later. I had to return to Pittsburgh, PA - for quarterly follow ups and a few times because of my worsening condition causing various illnesses back then.

And with my mother, I ended up moving to Pittsburgh, PA - 2 years later after multiple, and expensive trips back and forth from New Jersey to Pittsburgh. It seemed like the logical choice to make at the time. And yet my stubborn pride was too great in considering fund raising back then. It was another 2 years of waiting in Pittsburgh before I got the call on the 8th of October to hurry over in order to recieve the gift of life. Yet despite going through a successful Liver Transplant and recovering in excellent condition after 11 and 1/2 hours of surgery, just 3 years later I was re-infected by the virus hiding and mutating in my body.

This is another problem but, it's not an overwhelming one yet since the virus hasn't really started to destroy my relatively new Liver. And the fact that there are newer, more effective drugs already out in the market with many more soon to be approved for use by the FDA. So I'm confident that after fighting this virus for over 25 years with some highly toxic drugs that have ruined my health on top of the main cause of other illnesses, the cure will be just around the corner for me. I say this cautiously because I have been down this road before only to be disappointed again and again with what is always labeled as the cure which at the present time I cannot with any real confidence claim that I am cured of the virus and only time will tell for sure.

However, I do have another problem and I would like to have some help in solving it. I would be grateful if I could find an apartment in a retirement residence like the one I currently live in. Closer to Pittsburgh so I could reduce my travel expenses I currently have for all of my appointments. The problem is that all of the residences have waiting lists so it's not economically feasable for me to make this sort of move at the present time. If I could get help in order to pay for moving costs, and I could find a residence which I could afford paying the rent for, I would be making plans to move back to Pittsburgh, or any of the suburbs that are close enough for me to use public transportation to get to my appointments right away but, currently this is not an option I can make happen.

At the present time neither myself, or my brother have any sort of money in order to make that sort of move and change our situation. The Pennsylvania public assistance agency (welfare) says that I'm ineligible for any benefits because of the amount of money I recieve monthly from SSDI which is $1,263.00 per month.

Now I don't know about you, but for the amount of monthly expenses which I currently must pay for, they easily wipe most or all of that money out of my bank account before the end of the month. Which is why I'm asking for a hand up instead of a hand out. If I manage to generate more funds, I may just purchase some of the items on my wish list but the way things are going presently, it's currently just that. A wish list.

As a result of being on anti-rejection drugs that prevents my body's own immune system from attacking and rejecting my transplanted liver for over 16 years now. I now have other conditions directly & indirectly resulting from the long term exposure from taking these drugs. They have many side effects such as: Diabetes, osteoarthritis, being more susceptible to becoming infected with all sorts of pathogens that a normal immune system could easily fight off and protect me. And I almost forgot to include the long term use of these drug do cause kidney damage yet this is dependent on the dosage and it has certainly affected my kidneys and induced diabetes type II which has caused so many other complications that I'm not going to list because they are too many to do so.

Being constantly ill from a variety of reasons, I can no longer work even part time anymore, and I am dependent on Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare in order to sustain me both financially and physically. This is not enough these days for my survival which is why I am asking for help in keeping my head above water.

"Henry (Myself) is a true warrior since he started fighting the good fight in the hope that he would eventually win this war." My brother tells everyone he knows that statement because of what he has witnessed of my battles with many different illnesses over the years. I'm currently fighting against Hepatitis C, Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, Tricuspid valve regurgitation in my heart which will require surgery soon enough and Chronic Kidney failure. I also have moderate to severe Lymphedema in both legs as well as Type II Diabetes and severe osteoarthritis. A partially collapsed left lung can be added to this list also.

But, the worst part is that I'm now totally immobile due to my body being unable to have enough blood oxygen saturation as a normal person would have because of the Tricuspid heart valve regurgitation. This is a degenerative disease that affects the Tricuspid heart valve. Causng it to leak or improperly close so that the oxygenated blood which comes from the lungs -  backflows into the valve resulting in having only some of the oxygenated blood to flow out from my heart to the rest of my body. Without the proper amount of oxygen in my blood stream, I would in no time, pass out. This is because a certain amount of oxygen has to saturate in my blood stream which delivers it to my organs. When not enough oxygen is supplied to these organs, they start to fail causing a cascading effect that eventually shuts my body off.

Even with the supplied oxygen, I can only walk for maybe 50 feet before I start to feel weak and start to lose my equilibrium. By the time I reach 70 feet,
I am already hyperventilating and my blood oxygen level drops like a rock from 97% to only 78% making me feel like I want to pass out. Some days this can be very frustrating for me. Because before I got sick again, I was very active in a variety of sports and other activities that would require me to have enough blood oxygen saturation in order to participate in safely and now that is not possible anymore.

I am doing better with the help of the pulmonary rehab I attend 2 times weekly because when I first started going there, I could only walk for roughly 30 feet before I would start to hyperventilate which caused me to stop completely only 5 feet further. Resulting in having to do the breathing through the nose exercises they taught me that took over 10 minutes to do before my breathing became stable enough. By checking my blood oxygen level with an oximeter which I have strung around my neck, my percentage of blood oxygen saturation came back up from as low as 72% to 94%. Currently it only takes roughly 1/2 of the amount of time to do the same. So I am encouraged with the results from participating in the pulmonary rehab program so far.

This condition requires me to make up for the reduction of blood oxygen saturation with the use of medical grade oxygen flowing into my nostrils @ 6 liters per hour continuously 24/7. I get around town in a powered wheel chair with portable liquid oxygen tanks. My older brother Peter, usually drives me back, and forth to my many appointments and to the Pulmonary Rehab Center also.

I could contunue and write some more but, right now I cannot because I need to rest. However, I will be adding more to my story just as soon as I'm able to. So please permit me to end with a plea for your help in any way or form that you and possibly your friends can.

Thank you for your patience and concern from your busy schedule  enough to read my story and my plea for assistance.

Gratefully yours,
Henry Cabrera
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Organizer

Henry Cabrera 
Organizer
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