Right now, as you read this, please think of one person you love with all of your heart.
Now, imagine receiving a phone call, hearing that this person is in the hospital and may not survive the next twenty-four hours. Your heart races with panic while your mind freezes in disbelief. Unfortunately, I'm sure many of you have experienced this, and will understand the heartache my family and I are experiencing. For those who haven't, I'm sure you will agree that this is a horrific nightmare to live.
My cousin, my best friend, one of the kindest people I will ever be blessed to know, is only twenty-five-years-old. At this age, many strive to travel, to be working in a field they love, to meet new people, and to make memories that will last a lifetime. At this age, my cousin is striving to survive. My cousin is and has been for the last ten years, struggling with Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Depression.
My cousin and family have executed all options and services available locally, from ten different resources. We have assisted my cousin several times in applying to hospital programs offered outside of our city, and which are covered under Ontario Health Insurance Plan. Sadly, my cousin either does not meet their required criteria, or the programs are no longer offered. We have sought treatment privately, however, have been quoted prices of $40, 000 and upward, in addition to a waitlist of several months to years. This amount is more than many people make in one year of employment. I'm sure many will understand when I say, this left my family feeling defeated, helpless, and heartbroken.
On July 22nd, 2017, I received one of the worst phones call I ever have. My cousin had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at our local hospital. Unfortunately, being too strong for too long has taken its toll on her. She too, was feeling defeated, helpless, and heartbroken. The night prior, my cousin attempted to leave her place on earth by consuming ninety tablets of Tylenol, with a large amount of alcohol. When I place one tablet of Tylenol in my hand for a head or body ache, the thought of eighty-nine more tablets, makes my heart sink. Not only were we told by doctors that my cousin's liver was damaged, but her kidneys, her heart, and possibly her brain were also in jeopardy.
As a family, we all gathered together in my cousin's hospital room, knowing that if anything happened, we would all be there together. We all cried, comforted, were silent, prayed, and prayed some more. We had a dear family member and local priest, come to my cousin's room, to bless her and pray as well. It was one of the most emotional moments I've ever experienced. My cousin entered and left a state of consciousness multiple times. My heart felt such warmth when even with her eyes still closed, she asked for me to be with her. I sat beside my cousin and held her hand. I reminded her just how loved she is. I stayed with my cousin and family overnight. The loud beeping noises of the hospital equipment became comforting, at all hours of the day or night, as we knew what it would mean if we no longer heard them. We continuously watched my cousin, and then the clock, just waiting for her next blood work, report update, or doctor visit, anything that could possibly bring us positive news and hope.
Upon admission, my cousin's liver enzyme levels were at 9,000. While this number may not mean anything to many, we were told by doctors, that these levels should be at 20. We were hoping for them to reach 100. After three days in the hospital, my cousin had reached full consciousness, was talking, and we luckily even got some laughs out of her. It was a miracle. After being on Intravenous Therapy, and receiving medication during her time in the hospital, her liver enzyme level reached 134. Sadly, even with our wonderful health care in Ontario, we were told that my cousin could only remain in the hospital for a few days longer. We were told this even after doctors and nurses witnessed her behaviour, heard her words, saw her deny meals, as well as see that she was more concerned about the caloric content of her medicine than she was of the benefits of taking her medicine. We knew this couldn't be. Her state was nowhere near acceptable to be on her own at home. She needed help, help that we alone as a family, could not give.
At a complete loss, we once again, tried all avenues. We were told that she could be moved to a floor in the hospital that specializes in mental health, however, again, only for a few days. As we have many times in the past, we contacted hospitals in Toronto and surrounding areas, with no positive outcome. We contacted Homewood Health Centre in Guelph, and we were told that due to my cousin's severe state, they could have a bed in a semi-private room available in the month of August. We knew we had to take it.
As of right now, my cousin is enrolled in a 120-day program, at $330 a day. This leaves my family $39,600 in debt. This does not include travel to Guelph and possible overnight stays for my Aunt and Uncle.
We have always agreed that family comes before anything, and that when in need, we will do anything we can to help someone and their situation. Throughout all of this, one thing we have told my cousin, is to never be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. That is exactly what we are doing now. We need your help. Please. If you are able to donate any amount, please do. If you are not in the position to donate money, please share my cousin's story. As a family, we cannot even explain in words how much it would mean to us.
In the event that we exceed our monetary goal, any excess funds will be donated to Homewood Health Centre, to assist anyone in a similar situation.
Please know, due to the sensitivity of this situation, as well as past experiences, we have intentionally not included photos or names to respect and maintain confidentiality and safety of my cousin and family.
With assistance from Homewood, we are currently in the process of trying to attach some sort of account information, number, etc. to validate the authenticity of our situation and campaign. Thank you for understanding.
- Jim and Marion Coughlin
- Paul Cayley
- Leslee Cantello
- Shelley Budd
- Mike Westlake
Organizer and beneficiary
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