They say when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you. Easy to say for those who have a smile.
My name is Sean, and I don’t. I’d like to change that. After being on disability for five years, I’d like to get back into the workforce part time.
Problem is, very few companies hire people that have my computer skills when those people have no teeth. So I’m in a catch-22. I need teeth to get a job, but I need a job to pay for the teeth.
This is where GoFundMe comes in. Here’s a bit more of my story…
I’m a veteran on a civilian medical disability pension (called ODSP here in Ontario, Canada). I’ve survived two major injuries, one of which was while I was enlisted. The second occurred after I returned to civilian life, on January 11, 2011. This injury damaged my cervical spine. I’m lucky I’m walking, but it’s left me with seizures (which are mostly under control) and terrible migraines (which we are working on getting under control.)
Medical professionals were able to fix my bones and soft tissue because these costs are covered by Ontario government healthcare. The same cannot be said for dental problems. ODSP covers dental on paper, but most dentists won’t take ODSP billings. Partial coverage for dentures isn’t even guaranteed. Mine are an approved discretionary benefit. Anyone who has had to deal with ODSP knows how difficult it is to get anything like this approved. It took me years to even get on the program in the first place!
The men in my family have genetic dental issues. We joke that we’re in the Big Book of “Bad British Teeth”, because none of us keep our natural teeth past 35 years old. Before my second accident, I paid out of pocket for extensive dental implants, costing tens of thousands of dollars. These implants have come to the end of their 20-year lifespan, and they’re falling out. (Do the math and you can guess my approximate age!)
So I need dentures. The total cost of these dentures is $2400 (Canadian dollars). ODSP will cover $1000, leaving me to cover the other $1400. Sounds pretty easy, right? That’s not a ton of money! Well, it is when you don’t have a job, and you’re being paid a pension calibrated to only cover essentials. $1400 is more than I receive in an entire month from the government. The dentist requires $800 to start, the remaining $600 in 30 days.
I’ve been doing computer maintenance and builds for friends and colleagues, but here’s the second catch: after the first $300 I make every month, ODSP subtracts 75% of every dollar I earn from next month’s cheque. In order to pay that $1400, I would have to earn nearly $4000 extra in two months!
I have no idea how the Ontario government expects people with health problems that prevent them from working more than two days a week to cover these expenses. It seems that they expect this extra money to come from gifts, because ODSP doesn’t clawback gifts.
Crowdfunded medical expenses are considered a gift. That’s where this GoFundMe comes in. I’ll provide receipts and other documentation once the work is done to show that all of this is on the up and up. I’ve seen the medical scam stories in the news too. I’m not big on asking for help, but this is a hand up, not a hand out. It’s the first step on my journey to provide for myself again, with all the improved dignity that comes with that.
A friend of mine said “Sean currently doesn't get a fair chance at things, because people judge him for missing teeth, not what's in his mind and heart." I guess that means that what’s in my dented head and chest is still pretty good!
So if you want to do something that doesn't cost a lot, but will really change someone's life, this is your chance. You may not think that a proper smile means that much, but you have no idea how much it matters until you don’t have one. I’d like my outsides to match my insides a bit more. I greatly appreciate your help in helping me make that happen.
- Stephanie Rendino
- Arve Eriksson
- Katherine Clements
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