Sharon's battle with Valley Fever

One person can not move a mountain alone, but many people together can move a mountain one rock at a time.
- Sharon Garrett

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”   ― Confucius

Confusicus was correct, but I cannot carry all of the stones by myself. I am asking for help from my friends, family and community and my friends' friends, family and communities. Please help me.

I've been  diagnosed with Valley Fever a.k.a. disseminated cocci which is 50-60% fatal. There is no cure only management which is expensive and requires a good deal of luck. Many of my friends know that I was once a super-active person whose main focus in life was service to my friends, strangers, church and to my community.  My life long dream was to be a social worker and serve children. I was doing that when I caught this disease.

In the 10 years that I have been sick I have lost all of my savings, most of my retirement and all of the resources that I worked so hard for while working my way through college for most of the 1990s.  Now I am too sick to work.  I hope someday to be well enough to do some kind of work, but right now I can't.  I live on a very small income of Social Security Disability and a very tiny pension which pays my for my health insurance premium which I am grateful to have. 

As many Valley Fever survivors do, I pay rent that is 2/3 of my monthly income.  I hope to lower that cost sometime soon by moving to an apartment that is less expensive. Even if it's only $100 cheaper that frees up that money for food and for medications.  However, I am too sick to move right now.  I need the stability of the apartment in which I have lived for 6 years.  Stress is the number one aggravator of symptoms of Valley Fever which include excruciating pain, severe fatigue, depression and anxiety along with shortness of breath, chest pain and weakness.  Valley Fever starts as a fungal spore. Once implanted in the lung it becomes a parasite.  This is called bi-morphic.  Disseminated cocci is similar to metastized cancer in that it has spread from its initial infection location.  In the words of one expert, I am being eaten from the inside out and I may not look sick on the outside.  In my case, the parasite has infected all of my internal organs and they are covered with "nodes".  The parasite targets the nervous system, so it effects my mental status, my cognitive abilities as well as muscle movement in the form of tremors, spasms, jerks, and tingles. 

I am not comfortable with asking for help, but I must set aside my need to do it by myself if I want to survive....and I DO want to survive. 

1) I have medical copays every month ranging from office visits to at least 3 physicians every month (sometimes 4) and medication copays ranging from $5 to $45 per medication.  I owe my mail order pharmacy $200 from their willingness to ship life-saving medications such as insulin without immediate payment.  That bill will be paid from funds raised here.  My electricity gets turned off approximately two times a year because I can not pay it every month. Like the old saying, "I rob Peter to pay Paul."  It is certainly a juggle that is stressful for me.  If enough money is raised I will pay my electric bill to zero and if possible I will pay it ahead. Power companies actually like when you do this.

2) I have money issues surrounding the registration, insurance and repairs to my car. Out of desperation, I drove my unregistered car to a doctor's appointment that could not be rescheduled (if you want the details just ask) . I got a fix-it ticket and time is running out for me to fix it.  The DMV fees are astronomical due to penalties and other dumb stuff.  These issues will be resolved and if there is enough money some will be set aside (with the help of a friend) for next year's registration.  If I am lucky I have $25/week to spend on food under normal circumstances, but with all of these costs looming over me I am living a nightmare.

3)And finally, the IRS says I owe $500 because of confusion over student loan interest and what is allowable to be claimed. This will be resolved if we can raise the amount I projected. 

I have done everything I can do and reached out to community resources as much as I can.  I have exhausted every avenue that I know of which is substantial.  My failure to meet my financial needs at this time is not because I have not fought a ferocious battle. I've never been a slacker, but because of Valley Fever and the severity of my case, I can't do this alone.  I have to ask my friends and family for help.  God is good and I think He may have given me this burden/challenge to teach me to let others serve me and to not always be the one who serves others. I believe that when you serve others you receive two main rewards: blessings from God and the universe, and unconscientiously it feeds your ego also know as your pride.  It is time that the people with whom I share friendship and love have the opportunity to express that love and receive the blessings that come from serving others. In a way, my service to others while not letting them serve me has been a selfish act. These are the lessons that I am learning.  So I will thank you in advance for any help you can offer me. 

My biggest problems right now are financial. I know that no ONE person can or should shoulder the entire burden of helping, but many people giving small amounts is more than I could have imagined.  So if you can, please give what you can.  I am not asking for enough money to live on; I'm asking for enough money to dig myself out a hole that is too big for my shovel.  I am humbled by the many people who love me.  I am rich when measuring the good hearts and loving relationships I have. 

I do not take donations lightly.  I know how hard each and every one of you work for every penny.  I promise you that there will not be any shopping sprees, no lottery tickets, no spendthrift ways of using any money raised here.  It will be used to address the issues I've talked about here.  It will bring my car into a condition where I can safely transport myself to and from doctor's visits and hospital tests as well as visits with family and friends with whom I want more contact.  I have also made a commitment that because my transportation is due to generous gifts I will provide transportation to anyone who needs it, especially through the compassionate service leader at my church.  Any money raised here will resolve the IRS issues so that I don't have to live in fear every month that they will take my social security benefits without more than a week's notice and leave me without rent money for that month.  This would result in my immediate and swift eviction. 

I promise you that not one penny will be wasted for any reason.  My aunt Grace used to say that I knew how to stretch a nickel.  That made her proud and she helped me get through my college years while raising my young daughter, Hillary, because she knew I would not misuse her funds or waste any of it. She also knew my grateful heart.  I still know how to stretch a nickel and because they are your nickels they are even more important and special to me.  You might say sacred. Thank you for reading this entry.  I welcome any interest or questions about my life and I especially welcome any interest/questions you might have about Valley Fever as awareness is crucial to the people who struggle to survive it everyday.  Thank you.  Sincerely, Sharon

Summary of Projects for any money raised here:
- Repair my car so it will pass smog (2007 Suzuki Forenza);
-Catch up on late registration and penalties;
-Obtain and maintain liability insurance;
-Pay any traffic court fines, if any, promptly;
-Pay my pharmacy bill in full;
-Pay miscellaneous medical bills that have accumulated;
-Resolve and pay IRS issues promptly and remove that danger;
-If any remaining money I will pay ahead on car insurance, utilities and rent depending on the amount remaining.

My heart is filled with gratitude simply for the interest in reading this.  I know we will all be blessed by this endeavor.

"Be believing, be happy, don't get discouraged. Things will work out." --Gordon B. Hinckley
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Sharon Rose Hatt Garrett 
Carmichael, CA
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