Unfortunately, life doesn't always give you all the tools to make it. Sometimes it gives you the kind of tools that take you five, ten, even twenty steps back, and disability, even 25+ years after the passage of the ADA, gives you some pretty strange tools, like a Used hearing aid battery when you need a calculator.
Thats where we are are right now. Due to increasing harassment related to and discrimination against Heather's disabilities and accommodations at work, what began as recovery from a broken back (which didn't stop her from advocating before the union for permanent part time benefits the moment her brace was off) has spiraled out of control into stress-triggered life-altering illnesses: unmanageable fibromyalgia, unaccommodated hyperhidrosis which destroyed her hearing aids at work, intense and unpredictable physical exhaustion, and an increase in her Autism symptoms.
Ultimately, the increasing stress of maintaining health while pretending unaccommodated illness and disability did not exist or affect her, while struggling to jump through all the hoops to get and keep her accommodations, ultimately led Heather to a complete Autistic breakdown and emergency hospitalization in November 2016, from which she has yet to recover.
Most recently, her doctor has placed her off work and banned her from contact with her workplace for another three months because Heather's health is too fragile for the stress of unaccommodated communication.
There were a lot of physical changes that year:
Heather is eligible for long term disability benefits, as of May, but only if she can maintain her medical benefits that cover both Heather and Elizabeth at $1500 a month until the long benefits proces completes, and it is made longer by continuously missing paperwork and slow communication from the benefits company. She's told to avoid stress, but theres not really enough meditation time in a day, and the fibromyalgia flare already results in too much sleep as it is. :)
But she's regaining her physical health and sense of humor slowly but surely, and looks forward to better times in the future.
Elizabeth, too, is struggling to recover from Agoraphobia, multiple chemical sensitivity, and PTSD brought on by complete lack of support for her ADA rights. She is struggling back as a small business owner, but the business has not yet become profitable.
At least the improvement in her physical health is notable!
We're both trying to keep up our morale, and stay relevant. We're doing our best at keeping the house in order, inventing new ways to keep dogs fashionable and safe as well as comfortable, making art, learning IT management, and improving our social media chops, all while caring for and training our service dogs, and continuing to advocate for others. But none of that pays, so it's become clear we desperately need financial help until benefits come through because we're approaching 3 months overdue on EVERYTHING. Your help will allow us to:
-not to lose the essential health insurance that's making this slow recovery possible.
-keep our home and not lose it to HOA lien
-continue cooking and eating healthful food
-keep our car so we can get to appointments
-keep the utilities on, and
-to have the ability to get to Tucson At a moment's notice because Heather's mom has been given only 2-3 months more to live and we don't know when that time is coming.
Because it's soon.
So if you can help, PLEASE help. Any amount helps us. And if you work for the county (any dept) and have extra hours you can donate them through HR and prevent them from charging us $1500 a month we don't have entirely.
You can also find the high quality dog lifestyle products we make and the human fashion and semiprecious jewelry and stationery we make and sell on our Etsy page . Which all go to support us.
We will even come to your home to evaluate your friendly dog for service training, express their glands, give them a bath, and leave you with complementary anti-itch bath soak for the dog. That's how dedicated we are!
Dedicated to our health, our success, our friends, and family, and what we can give back.
Our service dogs are our every day inspiration and store of extra spoons. We couldn't do it without them. .
When there's nothing you can do, live like the dog. She doesn't know where she's going or what's coming next, but she's got a ball and a patch of grass and someone's probably going to throw it for her. There might even be food later! Life's good.
- Camisha Russell
- Iris Shi
- Anthony Navarrete
- Hilda Loh-Guan
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