A few weeks before Thanksgiving 2016 I suffered a severe headache. My primary care provider insisted it was a migraine. That pain stopped but a week later I was in the ER falsely diagnosed with diverticulitis and that same week Patrick, my husband, fell in our home breaking his tibia and fibula + dislocating and crushing his ankle. The Monday after Thanksgiving was the first time I was admitted to a hospital since my electrolytes were critically low as I could not stop throwing up.
My Chirstmas bonus (on December 19th) was losing my job. I qualified for unemployment but this lasts for six months only (extensions are no longer allowed). I looked for a job relentlessly in between doctor and hospital visits. I am grateful my COBRA coverage was only $355 per month. Patrick bought a box of emesis bags from Amazon for me which came in handy. I once sat in the Fred Meyer parking lot using an emesis bag while waiting for his and my meds to be filled at the pharmacy. I tried two different forms of three different types of anti-nausea meds - some even made the sick worse.
I spent most of January in bed and part of it hospitalized again as more doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with me. By mid January, I had lost nearly 60 lbs. I began suffering horrific pain and cramps in both legs. As January 2017 was concluding, I tried to stand up to get out of bed. I went flying straight down to the floor. I was paralyzed unable to move or feel either leg. Something, no one was even able to determine what, had invaded my system and nearly killed me but my immune system kicked in preventing my death. My immune system did, however, damage all the nerves in both legs while eliminating my illness.
February 2017 and part of March I spent in the hospital as they continued the endless machine and lab tests trying to find a diagnosis and rehabilitate me the best they could. My one trip out of the hospital was to a job interview (even though my doctor argued most heartily over my going). I tried to hide my disability as much as possible hoping to get another job - but hiding a wheelchair is pretty impossible. The interview requests stopped coming at all for the brief time I checked the disabled box so I stopped chosing it. The requests poured in again but after meeting me (and my wheelchair) I would be told (sometimes even during the interview) that they were going in a different direction.
I received my settlement from a horrific car accident I was in May 2016 plus I liquidated my retirement. We used a small amount to make needed changes to our house to accomodate the wheelchair and my physical therapy. The rest brought our mortgage current and caught most bills up. Patrick used the little money he had to go back to school and get certified as a surgical process tech. Good thing too since his company didn't just go away but his final check and the money owed to him for working vanished - including his retirement savings.
I was in the wheelchair fully until July 2017 and the last time I used it was September 2017. I used a walker for a time and most recently I last used my cane three months ago getting stronger each day. About 7 months ago I joined a pilates gym here in Beaverton and slowly moved towards doing pilates nearly every day. The one bill I have to pay every month is my $200 unlimited membership because it is the reason I can walk again.
Patrick drives my car to and from work so I can used his car and drive as a Lyft driver. I make less and less each day - last week I had a day where I waited 2 1/2 hours without a single request! Making enough money to even buy groceries is becoming challenging. There are more and more drivers on the road all the time trying to earn extra money. Also, in a few months I have put over 20000 miles and three new tires on his brand new car. The push to find a job continues. Driving for long periods is causing renewed pain and fatigue. I am also hunting for a job outside of the mortgage industry. I no longer have the good credit rating demanded of new hires.
I have been unable to pay our mortgage since August and gratefully our mortgage company is working with us so we don't loose our home. We just signed a lien modification but to meet it we are supposed to pay $2500 in back taxes by February 9th and then our first payment of $1073 is due March 1st. Currently I am past due $500 on my car (2 months) and the next payment is due on the 22nd plus I owe COBRA $700 to close them out. These are the only bills I am concerning myself with as I continue to work with the credit cards and medical. The sad part is when I received my settlement for the accident I used it to pay all my cards off! The hospitals removed part of the balances due to hardship which lowered my medical bills and when I hit my max early in 2016 all my treatments and medications were at no cost.
The great news is I continue to get better daily and I am regrowing the nerves throughout both legs. This is very painful but my medications help me continue to get better. Thank you for helping me do so!
- Kaitlin Rose
- Melissa Ferris
- Jenna Guziak
- Lynn Gustafson
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