Joey's Journey

Hello fellow travelers, My name is Joseph (Joey) Wichert.          Through my latest & last employment (just shy of 8 years) I have had the good fortune to be employed as a 'paraprofessional' in the field of mental/behavioral  health therapy as it impacts and is concurrent with substance abuse recovery. I have experienced, (mostly through client accounts / conversations), some of the darkest and most desperate life situations imaginable. I have also witnessed some of the most incredible character transformations; some to which the depth and magnitude defies description.
          I earned a satisfactory wage for my "time". However my true compensation came in the form of  the unique, extraordinary privilege to teach (and learn) from some truly "hidden gems" of humanity; authentically inspiring changed lives. A greater part of which commence with a simple and sincere "please help me".

Where am I going with this you may ask? Answers will come in my section below entitled "Joey's Big Idea". But first, "what's this guys problem"?

 Medical Diagnoses & Dilemmas

           A little over two years ago due to illnesses coupled with a succession of severe falls, I became disabled and decided to apply for disability benefits through our government via SSDI. One of my falls involved hitting a sidewalk with my head from 3 steps up; so serious that I required an ambulance (a friend visited by complete chance, called 911 and literally saved my life). Spent three days in ICU and seven more days in hospital. In the ER I needed 8 stitches (four internal and four external) to close a head injury. I was given three units of blood to aid in recovery. The ER physician said that if my friend arrived about 30 minutes later I may not have survived.  Much of my cognitive and memory problems stem from the trauma of this fall. All told I have15 separate, diverse diagnosed illnesses; some do  overlap i.e. acerbate and/or were a byproduct of one another. For the purpose of substantiation, the following is an condensed inventory of medically determined ailments including brief clarifications which appear in (parenthesis):

1)    Liver Disease/Cirrhosis (aka past lifestyle catching up).

2)    Chronic Insomnia (brought on by work changing to 12 hr. [night] shifts + stress from an accumulation of issues medical, financial and emotional).

3)    Anemia (result of the 1, 2 [above] which together also had the effect of an extreme loss of appetite).

4)    Pancytopenia and Leukopenia (blood disorders; both cause a decrease in red cells, white cells as well as platelets. Related to anemia, infection and decrease in liver function).

5)    Neuropathy aka Nerve Damage (pain and numbness both; cause: bad fall).

6)    Severe Shoulder Injuries ( [L] Torn Ligaments / [R] Rotator Cuff -both injuries while throwing heavy bags into a large garbage bin, then acerbated by that bad fall). - Chronic Pain see #9*

7)    Osteoarthritis (Ongoing in both shoulders again aggravated by bad fall).

8)    Chronic Major Depression (Ongoing since teen years & made worse by medical, financial and emotional issues).

9)    *Chronic Pain (Re: Shoulder pain- Had a consult with orthopedic surgeon; He assessed my condition, studied my x-rays and determined that any type of surgical procedure would be counterproductive. My pain daily is a 6 or 7 on a 1-10 scale).

o    Chronic Pain Diagnostics: I will have to learn to live with constant pain which will never cease completely. To this end, it has been medically recommended and corroborated that I take advantage of NE MED's premier Pain Management Program which I've been told, as a plan for living with chronic pain, is the exclusive provider of this particular system of treatment. It is a comprehensive plan which is resolute in the patient declaring a firm commitment; which is to attend 5 days a week, 8 hours a day for 4 consecutive weeks.

I include this info in my story to emphasize my need for assistance as this opportunity is somewhat of a 'one-time' proposal which, although being subsidized by UNMC Financial Aid, requires me to have a means of transportation. Something as simple as not being able to afford gas money (or as  crucial as the possibility of a major repair) would prevent me from making a commitment to this program.

 Waiting For Disability

          I am in my third stage of the SSDI disability determination process which will involve a judicial hearing. I have been assured by my attorney that, given my circumstances we should expect a positive result. All of my physicians and medical staff have agreed with this wholeheartedly and some were surprised that I'd been denied at all. I began this process with a savings reserve accumulated through my work with clients at an addiction recovery facility. I was frugal and believed my savings would have been enough to see me through until I could find a solution (discovered SSDI would be my best solution). I knew the process of being approved would take some time, but I did not anticipate the excessive wait estimates which I am told are 'normal' now. They talk in terms of years as opposed to months.

This being said, I have found myself in a position of financial difficulty making ends meet until my disability determination.

 My Expenses

      Specifically, my needs are fairly simple day to day things which I'm sure we are all familiar. Most are necessities which I have easily managed in the past, at times with a nominal income. Medical expenses are not so "everyday".

The following are my lists of expenses which I will not be able to handle without help.These are the essentials of monthly living Items & approx. costs:

o     Communication - Phone-$25, Internet Access-$43, Gas-$25.

o     Medications/Prescriptions - Total of 15 prescribed meds as well as 4 prescribed OTC meds and vitamins, all of which a modest cost estimate would be $120. 

 o     Rent/Utilities - Gas/Water- Average $175-$200 combined. My local utility assistance programs (which I have made use of) have been exhausted with the exception of me getting shut-off notice(s).

o     Food - In this area I'm in pretty good shape. I take advantage of ENCAP (State Commodities Dispersal), Local (monthly) food pantry. I also qualify for EBT - State Food Stamp program.

o     Non-Food Essentials - Bathroom tissue, soap, toothpaste, laundry supplies- not all of which are purchased 'monthly' so lets say $10.

 o     Frivolities/Leisure - Expenses that I just cannot justify these days. Don't smoke or drink. Don't go out for meals/fast-food. Perhaps an occasional newspaper or a rare 'soda-on-the-go'.   

 Joey's Big Idea

          To begin with, I was concerned that a personal petition for monetary assistance would be viewed as the internet version of "flying a sign". However, I was assured by good friends that this really isn't the same thing, given my absolute inability to secure any type of employment, my gross miscalculation of existing funds seeing me through (aka I'm broke). In particular, the concept of my "Big Idea" was met with enthusiastic approval as a fair and humanitarian proposal. 

          The preceding paragraph is intended to be a segue into the disclosure of my dual objective in submitting my GFM petition. The original "working title" of my entire campaign story became the subtitle of this intro: "Joey's Big Idea". My desire is to put forth the concept of taking care of one another in our most desperate times of need. It appears that locally, nationally, globally and universally the general outlook is one of anger, frustration, fear and uncertainty. In grand generality it feels like our species may be on the doorstep of two unacceptable absolutes: anarchy or apathy.

     So rather than merely putting forth an appeal for fiscal assistance I'd like to propose a "pay-it-back or forward" scenario. For every donation I receive, I am extending three (hopefully appealing) choices as well as one personal commitment. You have my word that I will follow through on these pledges promptly after I receive my initial disability compensation:

 1)    Payback - Include contact info and I will repay your donation amount in full.  

2)    Pay It Forward - Include the name of a charity or other worthy GFM and I will contribute your donation amount in your name or anonymously.

3)    Compassion - Kindness for kindness' sake (Neither 1 nor 2 chosen.

My Promise - As a pledge to myself, and you kind donor, at the conclusion of the campaign process, I shall tally up all of the donations stipulated as #3 and, as time and conditions permit, will contribute 20% of that total to some of my choice(s) of altruistic and benevolent efforts.
     I have found myself at this point in my life in genuine need for assistance as well as the compassion, understanding of my fellow travelers.
I have long known that I couldn't 'save the world' in total, but could affect a real change in the world I find myself in every day; the many opportunities we all have to make this life just a little bit better for our fellow human beings. I've found unequivocally that my life is better if I acknowledge someone with a "hello", a nod or a genuine smile. Don't be afraid of giving a real compliment when it's fitting. Holding the door may be the only nice thing that happens to someone that day. Invest the time and attention to really listen to someone. Let kindness guide your philosophy of life. If you (we) can do this much, then whether you decide on donating or not...thank you.

 Shout-Out  (Epilogue)

      In my 61 years, I have been in situations a few times which required me to seek assistance from state, county and local organizations, including homeless shelters as well as the compassion and consideration of some people I'll never see again. My appreciation for help I've already received is immeasurable. this time, since my GFM "Plan" is based on gratitude, I feel led to include this as a P.S.:

          I must acknowledge and express my deepest appreciation to everyone at Nebraska Med / UNMC; who for over two years now have extended me, as their mission statement exclaims, "Serious medicine. Extraordinary care". They have seen me through emergencies, extended hospital stays, diagnostics, physical therapy, primary care and more. All while demonstrating financial leniency and really listening and trying their best to understand the seriousness of my fiscal as well as medical situation. All without waning one bit in their mission statement. I mention them here as a sincere recognition of their life changing, life saving attitude towards their world, our world and the world.
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Joey Wichert 
Omaha, NE
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