Hello harm reduction family, friends and allies. As many of you know, I have worked closely with Louise on a plethora of projects and continue to build a strong team based feminist led model together that has made the bond between us unlike any other I have ever experienced in my life. She is truly a warrior and refuses to let me give up on myself when all seems bleak and dismal. She always puts others first, speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves and is a hero to the unloved, the undesirables and the forgotten. When there is bad drug policy, you can bet Louise ( and myself!) will be there fighting against it. She often goes without pay to ensure her employees are compensated.
As many of you are aware, Louise lost her daughter, Selena, a few years back to an overdose. Soon after, she had her leg amputated as a result of being the survivor of a vehicular hit and run. She recieved biased medical care due to the fact that she was a PWID. I cannot begin to fathom this severe level of loss but somehow Louise managed to move forward, all the while helping our community in a myriad of ways. She also opened the first ever legal peer run syringe service program in North Carolina, subsisting on a shoestring budget, often using her own money to keep the program afloat.
This past May, Louise developed an infection in her leg which required a second amputation. The first was below the knee and it took her nearly six months to learn how to walk with her prosthetic leg. Now she has to repeat the grueling process. But this time the amputation was above the knee, requiring a much more sophisticated prosthetic leg. On Selena's birthday, October 25th, Louise received the call she had been patiently waiting for...her leg was ready! When she went to pick it up, however, she was told she needed 20,000.00 up front. This, combined with it being her daughter's birthday, sent her into the depths of despair. I want desperately to get her leg for her and to allow her the freedom to move about once more.
As a woman who has experienced violence, Louise feels exceptionally vulnerable in her present state. I have seen her struggle without complaint to do what most of us take for granted every damn day...to walk. The amount of exertion it takes her to complete simple tasks is astounding and I so proud of her for not giving up. She has helped so many and it is time we help her. I refuse to let this minor hiccup beat her. I love Louise like family and have seen how the loss of her leg truly affects her in private. She puts on a brave face but she deserves to be truly happy and to feel whole again. No matter how many times I tell her she is beautiful, I honestly do not think she will feel the same until she has her leg.
Louise says in her own words...
"I am required to pay 20% of 100,000.00
this is a hardship for me as I do not make a wage that can support my basic needs. It is an Ottobock Microprocessor leg with a knee which will allow me to walk and continue to do the work I love.
I thought one amputation was enough for a lifetime, but two was more than I could stand. The way we treat people who use drugs in this world affects every part of our medical care and living. I know for a fact that my health and health care would be different if doctors saw me as a person instead of someone who does not care about my health..."
Please help us get Louise her leg. She still has a long road ahead of her and will have to spend months learning to walk again. Please help her take her life back and not leave her at the mercy of others and confined to crutches or a chair. I see how it hurts her soul when cruel individuals stare and comment. I fear she can only take so much more of this daily struggle. Together we can give her back the ability to be her true self again and continue doing the work that sustains her.
Much love and in solidarity....