Help Serita through!

$18,783 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 140 people in 51 months
Hey everyone! Our co-worker Serita is facing some pretty serious challenges in her life right now. The FPD family is trying to help her along her journey. Below is her story...

Hello everyone… My name is Serita. I’m 36, and a dispatcher with the Fairfax Police Department after many years as an EMT and in Search and Rescue. I started a food charity in my home-town a few years back, and have spent the last 20 years of my life finding joy in both being busy and in being of service. And suddenly, as happens in life, things are really different. ! !

I was born with a pretty common heart valve issue, something for which surgery has always been a far-distant possibility (think 60s or 70s!), but that didn’t ever have much of an impact on my day to day life. Unfortunately, over the past year and some, the valve decided it’d had enough and started failing. Additionally, over the past few months, I started to experience increasingly longer and scarier episodes of a complicated and hard-to-diagnose tachycardia, too.
The last episode got me an ambulance ride of my own from work — pushing all sorts of drugs and defibrillating while I was awake — in to a month-long yo-yo ride in and out of the ER/ICU while they try to figure out what’s going on. While it’s unclear if this newly diagnosed ventricular tachycardia is related to the valve issue, or is an entirely separate issue, what has become clear is that it is serious. A couple of procedures were done and the tachycardia is better controlled, but teams of doctors are still trying to figure out how to balance addressing the VT with my need for valve surgery. ! !

All of this, with so many more details and contingencies that my head is spinning, bring me to a place I am adjusting as best I can to… Exhaustion, shortness of breath, pain, dizziness, and the perpetual fear that every flutter will be the one that lands me back in hospital. I’ve always had so much energy and done so much, and now find myself needing to move so slowly, unable to work, go to school, or even to drive. I am scared, and overwhelmed, and also so grateful for so much… For my department and all their support, for my boyfriend and friends (both parents passed away many years ago, so these folks are especially dear to me for stepping in to fill the role of family), and for medical insurance and the era of medical technology that we live in that is saving my life. ! !

I’m not good at asking for help. I want to be able to do this all myself, power through this tough time like I have every other tough time before, and get right back to feeling like the optimistic, physically capable and autonomous human that I was before all this started. And instead I get to slow down, to get familiar with feeling weak and vulnerable, to get friendly with both my fear and my fortitude, and to learn to ask for help. Because…!

My vacation/sick/comp hours have been depleted. My department is so generously working to see what hours can be donated to me for the next couple of months that I am unable to work as they sort this all out and surgeries happen. And honestly, while money and the financial details of life are so important, from here I’m just… a little removed from it all. It is new to me to feel financial concerns sort of fall away, to trust that the bills will be covered, that that part of life will be ok. Because right now all I can focus on is that I am alive and grateful for the kinds of lessons found only in struggling through tough times. Financial security/money is important, but not the most important. ! !

So… Thank you for whatever you can do, and for all that you already do…! !

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Well! It sure has been a little while... And I'm pretty far overdue for an update. Under normal circumstances I'd feel terrible for not being more on the ball, but given how all over the place things have been, I've learned to cut myself some slack!

I think the doctors and I can agree that after months of unexpected setbacks, I'm finally at the edge of the woods, if not entirely out of them! I am still skittish and so hesitant to get my hopes up, but am also firmly of the mind that what we think, to a certain (quite large, in my experience) extent, becomes... So I'm actively practicing imagining something-close-to-complete healing for myself. So simply, I want to be healed. And even so, wanting this is, strangely, far harder than it sounds. My mind has often had a tendency to wander into fear and isolation, and so I find myself with daily-- sometimes hourly-- work to do in keeping my eye on the prize.

I've been home for three solid weeks now, and am finally starting to trust that it might stick! Challenging parts and all, I am so, so, so relieved to be seeing progress, and feeling more myself every week. I knew about two weeks ago-- when I caught myself talking fast and interrupting everyone again-- that I was finally beginning to return to my 'old' self. Big pieces of my old self, at least... It's interesting to notice all the ways this experience has changed me, too...

I'll be very curious to see what the coming weeks and months reveal, and am so excited to have been cleared to start taking small hikes (and to fly, oh la la!), to start reducing and even stopping some of the myriad medications that have become such a regular part of my days, and soon to be able to drive again!

My immediate future isn't entirely clear to me as yet, and I can't even begin to try to pin down longer-term, but I do know that I am catching the thread of 'normalcy' again, and that the one thing that has carried me through this all has been the support and encouragement of my communities (both close and far, known and unknown). I am, more so than ever, so deeply grateful, and feel so fortunate to be here, and to get to experience this all with you guys at my side.

Thank you.

(Photo from a recent pacemaker/defibrillator check-up.... Feels surreal but they can literally pace me-- using this ring doohickey to speed up and slow down my heart-- and read what my heart's done every second of every day, even tracking all the hiccups (6 since January, a little unsettling, but nothing to worry about I'm assured)!!
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I am writing to you on behalf of our dear, dear friend Serita Basilio- Lewis who has been on medical leave from her position as a dispatcher with the Fairfax Police Department. Serita has worked on and off for Fairfax PD for a number of years (I think about 8 years total) and was also a volunteer with Search and Rescue under Michael St. John. Serita was born with a heart valve problem and believed she would require heart surgery later in life (maybe when she was 60 or 70 years old), however earlier in the year the valve started to fail and a few months ago, Serita’s heart went into ventricular tachycardia (and later v-fib) while she was working dispatch at Fairfax PD and she was taken by ambulance to Kaiser Hospital.

The last several months have been a blur with Serita’s heart valve surgery, followed by continued heart rhythm issues requiring placement of an AICD, and complications from a pleural effusion, collapsed lung and hospital acquired pneumonia, all of which required three subsequent re-admissions to the hospital. It has quickly become apparent that Serita’s rehabilitation may take longer than anticipated and will minimally require a number of months. The Fairfax Police Department is one of the smaller departments as you all know and has very generously contributed catastrophic leave time and donated funds on Serita’s behalf, however her situation has changed markedly from the original estimates and we are now seeking additional assistance from our larger law enforcement family. She will be on unpaid leave as of early January, FMLA runs out in February, and medical insurance follows in March. Fairfax PD POA has set up a 911Cares link which is connected to a GoFundMe site for the receipt of funds, Ross Police Department has also generously donated funds and we have reached out to the MCSO as well as other smaller departments within the county for their consideration. Serita does not have any family; both of her parents passed away many years ago and we know she has considered law enforcement her family for a number of years.

We (my husband Rob and I) know Serita through Food For Families, a food charity she started four years ago in West Marin. She is one of the kindest, most humble and humane people we have ever known and has spent a lifetime in service to others. We are drawn to her inspirational and positive nature and are in awe of her grace while staring heart surgery in the face and coming out on top. My husband and I are reaching out to the law enforcement community, Serita’s family, our family for thirty-two years (until recently when my husband retired from the Marin County District Attorney’s Office). My husband and I would be grateful if you would share this information with your associations and with the law enforcement community in the hope you might consider some support towards Serita's unfunded medical expenses, ongoing treatment and any overlay of additional medical care.

Deep and heartfelt thanks for your consideration of our letter. May the new year keep you warm and safe, always.

Most sincerely,

Sandra and Rob Guidi
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A new years check-in from the luckiest girl in the world... To be home for the last couple of weeks, for feeling better each and every day, and for the support network I could never have imagined and now can't imagine my life without. Your support means more than you can possibly know, and I owe so much to so many. I am humbled, and so, so, so thankful...

Thank you all, may the new year be as kind to you as you have been to me! xoxox
Recovering at home, week 1!
So amazing to be home...
Getting better every day!
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Here are a few pictures from my time in the hospital.
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$18,783 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 140 people in 51 months
Created November 24, 2014
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47 months ago (Monthly Donation)
48 months ago
48 months ago (Monthly Donation)
48 months ago
48 months ago
Carla Steinberg
48 months ago

Be well!!!!

Briones Lions Club
48 months ago

The entire Bolinas/Stinson Briones Lions Club send their love and good wished to you Serita!

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