Let us all help our friend Mama T


Thank you so so much for all the help that this fundraiser and all of you special giving donors awarded me.   I will leave the story up but it is going to change dramatically from here on out... I am in recovery and then decisions in the future will determine more surgeries. 

After a fall in 2008 down a flight of stairs, my legs need to be redone.   I've had THREE surgeries already, one in June 2016 and then another due to complications in December of 2016 and one in just this month December 8th, 2017.  I am currently in recovery.  Because the Social Security and Disability system are set up the way they are, it is more detrimental and less helpful than I could imagine. I am going to work hard on advocating change to this once I am healthy! I have to move to survive, luckily enough I have a been fostered by a loving family in St Louis. I will be there until I am healed enough to strike out again on my own. 

This isn't over as I have one more surgery left on my left foot. But that will be in the future and now that I have been awarded my disability I should be much better off. 

All things are outside my control other than doing the things necessary to keeping my health both mental and physical stable until we are finished with the surgeries and I am able to get into more therapy.   

The hardest thing to hear for me was that "you are permanently disabled and we don't know if your legs will serve you as they did for the past 43 years. You can no longer do the work you used to that supports you."  

The worst part is I don't know how to do this alone! 

I am so scared, I am in the middle of a brand new journey for me. I am going to have to learn...it will take some time.  

Yes there will be a point in the distant future where I will be confined to using assisted equipment like a wheelchair.  I will have to be retrained in a new job after the next round of surgeries and recovery. I have such limited resources which I have drained almost completely over the past 7 years. I have lost all my retirement to this medical issue and providing for myself and for the past 3 years have been living well below poverty level.  I would like to think that there are enough kind hearts out there that could help a little, as much as I hate and am embarrassed to ask.

If you still want to donate anything I will not turn down the help. Social Security expects me to live on less than 14,000 a year to make ends meet, food, rent, heat, car, medical, everything. That is so far below the poverty level that it is astounding. 

If you ever feel like helping me - I would be forever grateful! It is much cheaper to donate through PayPal this clicking on this link  https://www.paypal.me/TARlegs
What have I done? Well, I went through all the channels and did my best to conserve and seek help from others early on, mostly unsuccessful, but don't want to negate the kindness of the few that found a way to help me so far.  However, the fact is I NEED HELP to make it until from now on ...especially since the stress is beyond what I can take.  I do so desperately need some peace of mind moving forward, allow relief from the stress of the chaotic  financial burdens this has caused me, and allow me to rest and heal so maybe my leg can be saved and I won't end up in a wheelchair too soon, which I am unprepared for financially at this time as well.  

I don't have cable or any fancy services, I keep my internet (my only connection to the world) at $35 a month which is the least expensive I can find. I go to food banks to supplement my food, I make endless calls to find charity. It is the most humbling experience of my life and shows me there are other's just like me out there right now. For the past two years, I have been living week to week, begging for money from churches I don't belong to, from friends I have not heard from. Calling the 211 weekly or other charities only to find out I fall through the criteria cracks more often than not. I don't qualify for many of the programs out there like the HEN project which would pay my rent, or Cornerstone who would pay my electric bill, which serves many of the pre-homeless people out there.  How have I been making it? Small donations from a handful of friends, pet sitting, selling clothes online, house sitting, borrowing as much as my credit would allow (the payments are due and I need the money to pay) from high-interest parasitic companies that prey on hardships of others. This also doesn't include any extras like toilet paper, or paper towels, kleenex, Epsom salts, oils to rub on my leg for healing, etc.  I eat the same exact thing on most days, I don't go out, I think about every penny with such mindfulness including the gas it takes to get somewhere. 

I have been able so far to keep my checking account for 17 years the fear of being overdrawn just claws at my integrity, with no way of paying it back. It is so important for someone like me because banking with a credible place allows me to make online payments, transfer money easily and may also be helpful once I have regular income coming in on managing it.

Every day I start out with a miracle prayer, hoping something will come and I can sigh relief. No one deserves to live like this.  This journey has emotional, financially bankrupted me!

It is hard to understand why, when I applied for SSDI in February of 2014 that I have to wait until December 4, 2017 to receive my final hearing. I have been a 28% taxpayer in the system for over 40 years in this state. My past earnings even though they are gone still keep me from accessing the programs that help many in these situations. What they give you doesn't cover the expenses you have accumulated while you're waiting either. They deduct everything, including the money I receive here. It is a hideous process and completely traumatizing to do by oneself. 

The process lacks pragmatism, because a person (me) who have paid into the system and is asking for help, is in extreme crisis, cannot access her benefits as promised. I am a worthy person, hard worker. I like to believe I have helped others in my lifetime too! 

The embarrassment and degradation is beyond comprehensible for someone who would love nothing more than to hop up and go to work! I can no longer hop. I have not run in over 10 years. I think If I was crossing the street and a had to bolt I would not be able to and would be injured. And to top it off, I spent the first five years trying to hide this from everyone, thinking I can fix it myself. Do you remember those vibrant days, when we didn't have a care in the world? I would like to believe we have the capacity to achieve that carefree feeling again. For now, I seem to have a long list worries, trying to protect myself from falling, managing my chronic pain so it doesn't become unmanageable, how I am going to do more surgeries alone?

As of March 10th, the full back payments have not been paid... I have been denied in such a way that only bring heartbreak to my life.

I have written to my congresswoman Patty Murray to help! She responded in a day and they have taken my case and marked it with congressional interest. I hope that there is a way to make this process easier in the future for the millions yes, millions of people out there who are struggling like me. 

Here are a few highlights to my case -

I was born with a birth defect and could not walk until
12 years of age.  Yes, I was that little girl in full leg braces (sometimes with a bar between the knees and ankles very Forest Gump) and crutches or a wheelchair.  I was in and out of the Shriners Hospital until age 12 with 3 surgeries on each hip for a total of 6 surgeries that would allow me to walk upright. These were major surgeries where I was bedridden for up to 3 months for each surgery as a child. They literally sawed the bone below the hip in half and turned it a certain degree, pinned it, and allowed it to heal (months in bed with traction devices). This was done twice a year at age 9, 10 and 11 and then when I was 12 I was in physical therapy. For the most part, this was a successful series because I could run, not fast but I could, I could walk basically normal for the first time.  I have had all these major surgeries since birth. Surgical Record – 1962 – 1974  Birth to 12 years old had 9 experimental surgeries at Shriner's Hospital on my hips to correct birth defect of hip dysplasia, knock-kneed and bowlegged to the extreme. These were experimental surgeries that were done with bone modifications and multiple long-term hospitals stays with intentional fractures using traction and pins as a healing method. Mind you this was over 40 years ago and the advancements in surgery today are due to the experimentation on my legs.

1977 car accident –driving off a cliff at 60 miles an hour! Shattered my face with a steering wheel. Had emergency surgery on severe facial lacerations.  Replacement/Reconstruction of cartilage and bone to eye sockets and rhinoplasty to the nose.

1978 appendectomy – this was severe with 42-day hospitalization including full quarantine to fight serious rupture and infection of the appendix. There was irrigation of open wound for several days before the incision was sewn shut (hence the large scar on the belly).

1979 – Trauma to head and clavicle fracture as a result of a motorcycle accident. This included brain surgery to relieve severe hemorrhage/ hematoma, including a 2-week coma. Had to learn to read and write again.

1986 – Broken wrist reset and pins due to fall!

1989 – Hand surgery tendon re-string of two right-hand fingers after being severed by a knife accident in the kitchen sink doing dishes.

1995 – Emergency Gallbladder removal.

2005 – Spinal fusion – C3-C4-C5 (neck) all fused as a result of an accident playing on the Beach with friends...

2008 – Post Tibia Tendon replacement and heel of right foot readjustment including orthopedically manipulated bone fracture and realignment with titanium rods as a result of deformations in feet due to falling down a flight of stairs in England.

2016 – Right Partial Knee Replacement (Oxford knee)

2017 – Knee surgery same right leg due to complications

2017 - Left knee replacement Just done December 8th, with some special modifications

2018 - Left Ankle post tibia manipulation, restoration of the arch, and alignment of heal. Also removal of arthritic deformations in hammertoe. This surgery will include metal plates and rods inserted in the bottom of my foot.

The recovery time for both is longer for me because of all the other trauma to my body, it is estimated to be three years total. Around 18 months for both. Where 75% of the time I will be bedridden.  (note: this is almost over, I am 2/3rds the way there.) One more year maybe a smidge more. 

I see a team of doctor's every two weeks at various times this totals about 12 appointments a month, my insurance no longer will only. I will not qualify for any special programs until my disability kicks in. My surgeon thinks he can fix my legs, he is so optimistic. So this most recent surgery is critical to my ability to strengthen my physical body to support itself for the near future until I have to finally give into the wheelchair.   Of course, this all comes with chronic excruciating pain and emotional instability that requires constant management and revolves around every daily activity. Due to all the injuries, I have had been challenged with over this lifetime I have developed severe osteoarthritis from all the fractures. This is excruciating and causes complications and stress that I would not wish on my worst enemy. Sometimes called degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common chronic condition of the joints. It occurs when the cartilage or cushion between joints breaks down leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling. pain. Learn more here: http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/osteoarthritis/

I am not the usual person, I don't like to play the victim, so most of the time, no matter how bad it hurts, my first line of defense to combat these issues is through movement. I use an abbreviated type yoga designed for me, first and foremost to help release the pain by stretching many times a day, did I say no matter how bad it hurts!  I always do before bed and when I wake up before starting my day. By the end of the day if I am in such severe pain that I cannot get in front of, to helps to soak in Epsom salt baths (I can no longer get in the tub for this. One reason this is harder to get in and out of the tub because my shoulders now are degrading due to unusually strenuous use to help me because legs use them for more support than normal) and am on ice and in bed recovering for more time than I am up and moving. I rub my legs with oils that are supposed to help release pain and focus on my knee, hips, and ankles and shoulder, but can no longer reach my neck and shoulders on my left side because of the right degradation of my rotator cuff. I use as essential oils and other rubs I can find for free, as I have $0 to purchase them.

I do, as monitored by my longtime doctor, use pain medications, however, are not good for my mental state and are horrible on your digestive system. I am not slim, but this is only because of inactivity and because I eat so healthy I am also not overweight. I am frugal, I have not had 5 dollars to spend on myself for over three years.  Let's also add all my drug allergies, because of the extensive list of major surgeries, my body has created a defense against drugs and I cannot take most of the medications that would help alleviate these conditions some. So there is that.

I have therapy now with the Medicare that helps with the trauma and other emotional issues that come with this, because of these donations we have gotten to a much better place and for that I am truly grateful beyond words. 

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Theresa Anne 
Seattle, WA
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