Chuck's Open Heart Surgery

“Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into.”—Oliver Hardy

Scrolling through GoFundMe sample pages I noticed something of a pattern. Several campaigns begin with a quote by a famous, author, actor, statesman, whatever, that summarizes the situation the campaigner finds themselves in. 

Like Olly throughout my life I’ve landed in a wide variety of situations or messes that were either at the time or in retrospect funny. As a writer I’ve used many of those events to entertain readers on my blog TheStorytellerCafe.

This past April, however, I landed in another fine mess that wasn’t quite so funny.

One evening while staying with friends in Hamilton, Ontario, as I searched for a place for my husband Jon and I to live once his new job began, I experienced chest pains. After an ambulance trip, ER stay, angiogram, quadruple bypass surgery and nine days in hospital I was left with $65,000CA or roughly, as exchange rates vary, $51,000US in bills I cannot pay. 

You see, while my husband Jon is a Canadian citizen, I am not. I’m an American living in Canada, and while I am in the process of applying for permanent residency, I do not, as of yet, qualify for Canadian healthcare, and my only source of income is my monthly Social Security pension. To make matters worse, with few exceptions, my US healthcare is not valid once I leave the country.

I can submit a Medicare claim, but not without paid-in-full invoices for each of the bills. Even then, as I understand it, according to Medicare’s terms, approximately 80% of only those costs deemed ‘emergency care’ will be paid.

In many regards, I’m extremely lucky to have been where I was and who I was with when all of this began. My hosts in Hamilton, Brodie Chree and his mother Sheila, are a premed student and retired Registered Nurse respectively. The hospital I was taken to, Hamilton General, has one of the most highly rated coronary care units in Canada and my surgeon Dr. Lamy, is one of the nation’s top rated coronary surgeons.

I do not want to turn my back on any of these people. I will always be indebted to Brodie and his mother in ways money can never repay, and I owe Hamilton Health Sciences and the team that kept me alive every effort I can make to see that their fair and just expenses are compensated.

Then there is my Jonny, the man who has been by my side from the beginning and has cared for me during my recovery as well, and sometimes even better, than my coronary care team. After four years of intensive schooling to secure 2nd Class Power Systems Engineering certification, he has his own student debt load to repay. We had planned and budgeted accordingly for this; however, the additional costs of my care will either force us to live beyond just check to check, ruin our credit, or both.

Ironically six weeks after my release from the hospital Jonny began his new job. His benefits package includes health insurance for nonresident spouses. I now have a private Canadian healthcare plan and $65,000CA/$51,000US in debt.

This is why we are placing our call for help in the hands of the universe—the Internet—in the hope of lifting some of this financial dread from our lives. As the saying goes every little bit will help. From the deepest reaches of our souls thank you for reading this far, giving, and sharing.
  • Anonymous 
    • $200 
    • 27 mos
  • Glen Blanchard 
    • $100 
    • 29 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $135 
    • 31 mos
  • Tyler Austen 
    • $50 
    • 32 mos
  • Michael De Kort 
    • $50 
    • 32 mos
See all

Fundraising team: Chuck and Jon Bypass Fund (4)

Charles W Oberleitner 
Organizer
Raised $3,495 from 21 donations
Palm Springs, CA
Jon X 
Team member
Raised $2,470 from 20 donations
Brodie Chree 
Team member
Raised $275 from 2 donations
Kenneth Larsen 
Team member
Raised $25 from 1 donation
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