Help Melissa with Medical Bills and Life

March  6, 2019 was the day my life went into an out of control spiral and I went from living to merely surviving.   However, the troubles started more than a year ago.   In January 2018, I fell on ice outside my home on the way to school.   I never saw the ice, but I did see the concrete walkway before I landed.   Both knees were injured and I hit my head on something.   I got to the Orthopedist to look at my knees and was told that something had broken in my left knee and we would need to do surgery.  I thought I could put that off until spring break, because anyone who knows me knows I hate missing time with my students.   By the middle of February, I had blacked out in class and ended up in the Emergency room trying to determine if I had had a stroke, seizure, or some other bad thing.   This was the beginning of my struggle.   I continued to black out through April almost weekly.   I was sent to a neurologist who put me through a battery of expensive tests to determine that I was not having seizures, but no explanation for why I was blacking out. 
In April, another doctor on a hunch tested me for Rheumatoid Arthritis.   Bingo!!!    My inflammation levels were 60, 80, and 600.   They should have been 5,5, and 10.  No wonder I was blacking out.   My brain was severely inflamed!    I began seeing a Rheumatologist to get the RA under control.    Oral medications did not work for me.   I was put on a regimen of oral medications, self-injections of methotrexate, and an infusion of another drug every 8 weeks.   This infusion costs $13000 each time and is like taking chemotherapy.   It makes me very sick for several days and my hair started to fall out, but it worked.   My body responded to it and I started to feel a little better.   
I had surgery on my left knee in May to fix what was broken during my fall, but had to put off the biggest surgery - total knee replacement on my right knee until Christmas break due to the RA.
On December 17, 2018, I had my right knee replaced.    Initially, healing was going as it should until January 19, 2019.   My incision started to change colors and started oozing.   I immediately called the doctor and it was determined that incision had become infected.   For 6 weeks we treated this infection with antibiotics and enzyme creams.   It looked like we were on the right track until the weekend of March 1.   That weekend the incision started to change again and on Sunday night, yellow fluid started running out of one of the holes that still had not  closed up.   I went to the doctor first thing Monday morning, and the infection had gotten worse.   I was scheduled for immediate/emergency surgery on Wednesday,  March 6 (first day my surgeon was operating).   That morning, no one anticipated what was to come once I got into the operating room.   Dr. Singer told my mom we would probably be done in an hour.   Four hours later, I left the OR.  What we didn't know and couldn't know was that a suture from the original surgery in December had not dissolved and had become infected inside my knee joint.  No one knew it was there.    Had I not caught the skin infection and been so aggressive about seeking treatment, I could have lost my leg, or worse, my life.    My white cell count was over 50,000.   It should be around 5000.   
When I woke up I was informed I was septic (my blood was infected) and that I would be on IV antibiotics for the next 6 weeks.    (But I have to go back to work, I thought).   I would be tethered to an IV  for 6 hours a day and have a PICC line (no work for at least 6 weeks to minimize my risk of further infection).   
I got to come home from the hospital on Saturday, March 9  but was back in the ER less than four hours later because the PICC line had clotted on one side.    By Monday, March 11, I was headed back to the ER with blisters all over my back, ringing in my ears, dizziness, and a blown pupil.    I was admitted and tested for stroke again.   Turns out I was allergic to one of the antibiotics they had me on.   I got out of the hospital on Thursday and came home to my new reality.   
On April 3, my PICC line arm started to break out, so back to the doctor I went.   The PICC was pulled and the antibiotic was changed.   I had developed an allergy to the IV antibiotic.    The new antibiotic I was given on Friday, April 5.   By Sunday, my entire body had broken out in red blisters and splotches.    I have been taken off that antibiotic (allergic to that one too) and am on steroids to get rid of this allergic reaction.   
I am still not allowed to go back to work until all of this is taken care of.   Once all this is straightened out, I have to get back on my RA treatments and infusions.   I have been off them for several months.  I will also be on a maintenance program with infectious disease for at least 6 months. 
 I have not worked since March 1.    I am having to help pay for my sub through FMLA and when that runs out, I will not be paid at all.   I have thousands of dollars in medical bills, and everyone wants to be paid right now.   My primary concern is keeping the power and water on and food on the table.   However, I am seriously stressed out with not knowing what will happen next and how to pay for everything.    I have learned that medical emergencies and chronic medical issues are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the US.   I understand.   I didn't plan for this.   I couldn't have.   But here I am.     I would love to win the lottery and pay everything off, but seeing as how my luck has gone over the past year, I don't think that is going to happen.    I know money is tight for everyone.    People are always asking me what they can do for me.    I don't want to say - send money, but it is the truth.   If you can help, I will be eternally grateful.   If you cannot help monetarily, I ask that you continue to pray for me that I will find a way to pay the bills and live until I can return to work (hopefully after spring break) and some sense of normalcy.  


Melissa Holland
Gastonia, NC

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