“I used to think living every day in pain was the worst thing I could ever experience. But feeling helpless and having my dignity stripped away bit by bit makes it even worse.”
Those words are from my best friend Lisa Scharlin Elliott. We’ve known each other since we were in 7th grade. She’s worked all of her life and has always been strong and independent. She began her career in the business world as a teenager and found success on her way to various management positions. But in 2007, at the age of 46, her world changed. That’s when she became very ill. Her string of health problems stem mainly from two serious disorders: Dercum’s Disease and Lypo-Lipedema. This has caused her many serious problems that have almost led to death numerous times. These diseases are incurable and have virtually no treatments.
Watching her being robbed of not only her health, but of her independence pains me almost as much as it pains her. For this reason, I’m writing this appeal for help on her behalf.
Dercum's disease is a rare and incurable condition. It’s very painful, as multiple benign fatty tumors accumulate throughout the body. Other characteristics of the disease she suffers from are trouble sleeping, memory issues, difficulty with concentration, joint aches, and severe breathing issues. She must be on oxygen 24-hours a day.
Lypo-Lipedema is also incurable. It involves the extra deposit of fat cells throughout the body, particularly from below the waist to just above the ankles. Because of this, her legs have swelled to such a huge size that she is unable to walk but a few steps any longer. On many days, it’s impossible for her to get around at all. She uses a walker and a wheelchair. Each leg weighs in excess of 150 pounds and she feels severe pain in them, even when lightly touched. There are areas with severe bruising and dark spots, which indicate there has been bleeding beneath the skin.
Unlike the fat caused from normal obesity, the fat associated with lipedema can’t be exercised away, nor can it be reduced with diet. Even when there’s weight loss, it occurs in areas other than those affected by the disease.
Because her diseases are so debilitating, she needs 24/7 care. Bathing herself alone has become impossible. Driving is obviously out of the question, therefore she needs help running her errands, shopping for groceries, and picking up her medication.
She can no longer stand for extended periods to cook for herself, therefore meals are prepared for her. Professional caregivers are just not in her budget. If it weren’t for her ex-husband, who is her full-time caregiver (and dear friend), as well as myself and her siblings, I don’t know what she would do.
Due to her illnesses, her savings have long been depleted. She now only receives Social Security and she struggles to pay the medical costs insurance will not cover. She also struggles to pay everyday expenses.
Because of the size of her legs, she can no longer fit in normal vehicles. She now needs a specialized van to continue her vital medical appointments. Such vehicles are well beyond her means. For this reason, I’m asking for your help.
Any donations you could give toward acquiring this vehicle and taking care of medical bills she is unable to afford would be greatly appreciated, whether it’s $5, $10 or $20. No amount is too small. I know a lot of people have financial problems themselves right now, and if you are unable to contribute it is completely understandable. We ask for your prayers for Lisa.