Joel's Medical Expenses/MG's Child Care

Family, Friends, and (hopefully) Soon-to-be Friends:
            For those of you who don’t already know me, my name is Kandi Rollefson.  My husband, Joel, and I currently live in the Las Vegas area with our completely amazing (and way too smart) 3-year old daughter, Marli Grace.  This week marks four years since we first headed out West from Iowa to begin a new chapter in our lives - an “adventure”.  The past year has definitely been just that too, an adventure through the health care system and the not-so-beneficial aide available in the state of Nevada.  
            Joel first started exhibiting signs of some troubling health issues in early 2013.  After multiple trips to his primary care doctor, a couple of specialist visits, and a whole lot of blood work, he was finally diagnosed with Graves Disease this past January.  Our relief over having a diagnosis was short lived when some of his most severe symptoms weren’t alleviated with medication, forcing us to seek further treatment.  Suspecting a second auto-immune disease of some sort, Joel’s endocrinologist and neurologist both highly recommended that we schedule an appointment as soon as possible at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona.  Mayo wanted to see Joel right away, so within days (thanks to the love and generous financial support of some very dear friends) we were making the five hour drive to Phoenix.  We had so much hope riding on those four days of appointments and tests, but unfortunately we ended up leaving there with more questions than answers.  
            When Joel first got sick he was still working every day, running his own taxidermy business (the main reason we moved to Las Vegas).  As his illness progressed he downsized his shop, transferred his biggest projects to other taxidermists, and moved in to a smaller location with a lot less overhead.  Eventually he wasn’t able to work at all, however, and was forced to close the doors permanently a couple of months ago.  We sunk every penny we had in to that business over the past four years, and to have to close due to Joel’s health was completely heartbreaking for our whole family.  
            When Joel initially started working less and less, we had to make the very painful decision to take Marli out of “school”.  Not only are we devastated that it had to happen, but Marli is so disappointed and confused about why she doesn’t get to see her friends and teachers anymore.  She’s been going to that same daycare every day since she was six months old, they are like family to us and they looked after Marli like she was their own child.  We give LaPetite a tremendous amount of credit for her being the confident, smart, creative, little person that she is. Thankful (though unfortunately) my mom lost her job early this year so she and Dad stepped in and assumed the bulk of Marli’s daily care – for free!  God finally blessed Mom with a new job opportunity, which she started at this week, so we are once again at a loss as to what to do with Marli during the day while I’m at work.  Although Joel does have some good days, taking care of an extremely active three year old every day is certainly not an option.
            It has become exceedingly frustrating and demoralizing for me to want so desperately to take care of my family, and after ending up in the ER myself recently, I realized that I can’t carry this responsibility by myself.  My take-home pay barely covers the cost of rent and gas to get to work, and doesn’t leave anything for food, child care, medical co-pays, medications, utilities, car insurance, etc.  Thankfully my job does provide us with health insurance, but the State employee policy is a high deductible PPO ($7500 for a family!) and it doesn’t pay much of anything until that entire family deductible has been met.  The policy year just renewed and started over July 1st, so we have a very long way to go.  Joel recently received his next itinerary for Mayo Clinic, which is scheduled to take us to Phoenix for another full week.  During that visit we will also be taking Marli to see a pediatric urologist for an issue we’ve been dealing with since she was only a few months old.  To date she has had three surgeries for the same problem, and is facing a fourth in the very near future.  Now that she’s older and acutely aware of everything, we really don’t want to put her through that ordeal again if there is any other option available to her.  Say your prayers that we are financially able to make it to Phoenix for those appointments, and that we leave with lots of answers and solid treatment plans for both Joel and Marli.  If all goes well and Mayo gives Joel the go-ahead, we will be scheduling his first hip replacement surgery as soon as possible, which will hopefully relieve some of his pain and discomfort.
            I have tried, but been very unsuccessful, in getting some sort of assistance with our two biggest expenses, rent and daycare, but we either don’t qualify because...A) our household has an income at all (or their guidelines say I make too much), or B) because Joel isn’t working.  It’s baffling to me.  We would qualify for more aide if I were to quit my job and stay home every day, but then we wouldn’t have health insurance, I would feel like a total mooch, and more than likely go absolutely crazy.  Joel has also begun the lengthy application process for disability, but it could take up to another year before he is approved and receives any compensation.  
            As much as it pains me to open up my heart and our lives to the world, we need the help of our family, friends, and even complete strangers to get through this.  PLEASE, any little thing you could do to lend a hand would be an enormous benefit to our family.  Thank you for taking the time to read this long-winded message, spreading the word to your family and friends, and most importantly keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.  Somehow, some way, some day, we WILL pay it all forward.  

Love and thanks,
Kandi - Joel’s wife and Marli’s mom
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Kandice Rollefson 
Henderson, NV
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