A little help from my friends

(This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’m trying to keep it a bit close, and ask it not be shared further than the group I've shared with via this post. Thanks so much for reading.)

I don’t do this lightly. Some dear friends suggested I start this GoFundMe page. I’ve resisted heavily and struggled with the idea for the last month. So, I wanted to share why this, why now.

For someone who truly believes that we’re all in this thing together, and that we’re here to help each other, I struggle with asking for help for myself.

I want to believe that I am able to handle any situation on my own. But, that is not my reality right now.

As many of you know, I’ve been caretaking my folks through some sudden, serious, and complex recovery – my dad from cancer surgery and my mom from a broken vertebra in her neck. We were hoping for some good news this week about mom’s neck but learned that it is taking longer than hoped to heal, and that her neck brace needs to be on another 4-6 weeks, likely longer. She’s already had it on for 7 weeks.

Last night, spent and a bit desperate, I picked up one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, and came across this sentence: “I have almost always given everyone lots of help and hope and my own supplies of life force, but the sober people taught me it was okay to ask for help, even a lot of help.”

Like Lamott, I’ve been in recovery for a long time, and this hit me hard. Like her, I’ve always really tried to be of service; and to share my hope and life force.

Now, I’m in a tough and humbling situation and needing to ask for some help, and very uncomfortable in doing so (particularly this kind of help). I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me or to come off as a victim. I don’t feel that way at all and it’s important to me that you know that.

But due to the swift onset of devastating and painful situations facing my folks and me, and the ongoing complexities involved, I am asking. I need to free up some time in the short-term, to sort things out for my folks in the long-term and attend to my business.

My mom and dad were independent and mainly healthy until early this year but, in January, my mom came down with a rare type of pneumonia. Without exaggeration, it’s a miracle that she lived through it at all, and, finally, after several months, recovered fully.

Then in June, Dad had a minor stroke. During his hospital stay they discovered cancer in his throat and neck—not related to the stroke. Surgery was scheduled at Sloane in late August.

Three weeks before the surgery, my parents were struck in a car accident. The air bags blew and caused the fracture in mom’s neck. The car was totaled.

I swear if it weren’t happening in my world, I might not believe the rapid fire of what’s gone on for them.

Dad had his surgery a month ago and, after a few serious hiccups (including aspiration pneumonia) is home and recovering.

The great news is that they were able to remove the cancer. He’s having to learn to swallow properly again—and in the process of healing and regaining his strength—but it’s going to take time and some follow up radiation. Mom is home as well, but the neck brace is a huge issue due to her memory issues. Unbelievably, they both look like they will recover fairly well with time. However, and probably needless to say, it’s a huge amount to manage, and I’m pretty much a one-woman show.

My folks worked hard all their lives, retired with what they thought was enough, but got hit hard by the financial/housing crisis in 2008. No doubt, they also made some mistakes along the way. But this year of challenges was not in the plan at all.

Before this year, I was in the process of talking through options with my folks about their future, and was successfully growing my business to support such decisions. Because they were relatively healthy—and independent (dad was driving until the accident in August)— I thought I had a little time to put a plan in place, but then, everything hit at once this summer.

I’m so very fortunate to have a beautiful network of people who provide deep emotional support but, besides a bit of help here and there, I’m pretty much in this alone from a physical perspective.

I’ve been trying to do it all over the past year—care for my folks through these unexpected illnesses and run my business (thank goodness for my colleagues), but after the last couple of months, I’m starting to really wear down. I realize that if I don’t get some help with their care while they’re in this intense recovery mode—and some space to regain my spirit and attend to my business—I won’t be able to help anyone, including myself.

So, I’m asking for help—to hire part-time assistance and figure out transportation for the next few months, while they continue to recover—so I can free up a bit of space to map a longer-term plan for mom and dad, and work regularly to help them support that plan. Although I will still need to be very hands on with their situations, the assistance would allow me to strategically make and support good decisions for them and me. At the moment, I’m like the kid putting his fingers in the holes in the dam. It’s not sustainable, nor will it get us to the other side.

Obviously, I’m very uncomfortable asking for your help for myself and my folks, so I need each of you to know that I don’t expect anything at all, and am truly appreciative for your love, consideration, and kindness.

I am grateful for your help and support; honestly, any contribution, at any level, will make a difference. And, if you’re not able, please know that I entirely understand, and hope you won’t think less of me for asking.

Love and peace, Andréa
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Organizer

Andrea Pellegrino 
Organizer
New York, NY
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