Help Out J. Dick's Sick Little Girl
Most people know Jonathan Dick as a music writer, author, and teacher—as a talented, big-hearted person with a tireless work ethic, a way with words, and a soft spot for Rush. He goes above and beyond to support the music he loves, sharing their stories everywhere from Stereogum, Noisey, NPR, and Pitchfork to his own much-loved site, Steel for Brains. He's a stand-up guy, a gentle soul, and a lovable nerd, but to three special people in this world, he is more than that—he's their Daddy. Jonathan's children are his world, his end-all and be-all, and he is a joyously loving, accepting, goofy, and devoted father to Solomon, Elijah, and his youngest, his little warrior princess, Hannah.
Recently Hannah has been dealing with severe medical problems, leading to an extended hospital stay and uncertain future. She has been disgnosed with ciliary dyskinesia, an incurable genetic lung disorder that means that she will have to undergo daily breathing treatments for the rest of her life.
It's also left Jonathan with a mountain of hospital bills. His insurance won't cover all of it, and an Alabama teacher's salary ain't what it used to be. Hannah has further tests to undergo, as well, so the family still has a long road ahead.
With that in mind, I decided to set up this fundraiser for him and his children because, honestly, they deserve it. Hannah deserves to live a long, happy, healthy life, and to take that trip to Disney World that Jonathan's been saving up for. If you've ever read and enjoyed one of Jonathan's articles, bantered with him on Twitter, shared a drink with him in real life, or just want to help this beautiful little girl smile wider, please consider donating a few dollars to this effort. Not every little girl is lucky enough to have a father like Jonathan, and those of us who can count him as a friend are awfully lucky, too.
Just a year after that first visit, we were in the hospital with Hannah. Same thing: viral pneumonia, bacterial pneumonia, asthma, weak lungs, "we don't know", etc. All the while, H just took it in stride, never complained that it wasn't fair, never yelled at the doctors, and never allowed her circumstances to dictate her happiness (though being upset and crying for hotdogs, ice cream, pizza, etc., are understandable/don't count). There we all were, surrounding her hospital bed, questioning, hoping, praying, you name it. It's a funny thing about dangling at the edge of everything you know to be good and right, digging your nails in to find some reason or logic. You'll grab onto anything even for a moment if it gives you a little reprieve.
Just four months ago, the recurring nightmare of watching my little girl, not even five at the time, go up against all odds reached its inevitable zenith. When I first heard the phrases "collapsed lung" and "respiratory arrest", I didn't cry. My legs didn't give way. I just stood there next to the machinery and thought about the fact that for all I could do as "daddy", and for all I could promise as my little girl's hero, and for all the protection I would give her until my own end, I couldn't put air in her lungs.
It was the simplest thing, and I couldn't do it. For the same amount of years as we'd been dealing with Hannah's illness, I'd been more successful than I could have ever imagined in my writing career and with my blog. I'd been and still am proud of those things, but in doing them I had allowed those most important parts of my life to become blurred out peripheral things. I thought about Hannah being so attached to me, holding on to my every word, and never once allowing me or anyone else she loved to become anything other than her primary focus.
My kid had it figured out nearly 30 before I did. Regardless of how proud I might have felt about anything I'd accomplished, it meant and means nothing. It is immaterial. When the medical bills and estimates and prolonged insurance company conversations started to arrive, it felt strange not to have crippling stress as my first instinct. It had always been that way before.
Though Kim Kelly and I talked (and still do) nearly every day, I hadn't brought up my own financial issues because, well, it wasn't her or anyone else's problem. That's just me. I was prideful, embarrassed, and ashamed, and even now I struggle with even fathoming the fact that on her own, Kim rallied up a whole community of writers, musicians, fans, followers, readers, and so many other amazing people just to help out some dude in Alabama pay for his daughter's medical bills.
Guys, I can't even wrap my head around, but then I guess that's kind of the point. If I understood why Hannah will have to deal with a chronic illness that could very easily one day take her life, then I likely wouldn't be able to let that go and simply focus on what I do know, which is absolute and unconditional love. This isn't some circumstantial epiphany of positivity. I know the world is an ugly and cruel place, but I do believe, more so now than I ever did before, that more often than not we find the light and strength we need in the smallest and strangest of places.
If you've given, supported, prayed, sent vibes, or just had Hannah on your mind throughout this ordeal, you are every bit as important to she and I as her doctors. Even though we may never meet, you are one of many companions in what's been the most empowering and inspiring show of compassion that this former cynic has ever seen. I'll be closing out the fundraiser in a couple of weeks, but regardless of whether or not we make it to the $20K goal, my perspective and my focus is clear. Love wins out every time. Love and light all the way to all of you. You're amazing, and I'm lucky to count you as friends.
When we were in the hospital, I didn't think about my role as a parent or the enormous emotional and financial costs that would be waiting for me as soon as we walked out the door. I just did what I had to do. It doesn’t make me or my family’s situation special. Things happen. Life is rarely if ever easy. I like to think that what’s happened to us over the last few weeks has been a small but no less significant example of why we need each other in this hot mess of an existence. The few hours after Kim initially posted the fundraiser page did a whole hell of a lot more than raise nearly $1,000 an hour for the first six or seven hours. It forced me to confront my own feelings and lack of faith in people.
It’s hard to be positive in our world regardless of whatever struggle we might be dealing with personally, but I’ll be damned if I can’t help but feel a little more confident in humanity’s instinct for compassion and love. Say what you will about sentimentality, but I’m not so jaded as to delude myself with the notion that there’ve been more than a few nights just over the last month alone where the only thing I’ve held onto was a four-year-old’s hand and the knowledge that people literally around the world were sending their vibes, thoughts, encouragement, prayers, and love to us. We do good by each other because it’s in us to. No amount of evil in our present day world will ever convince me otherwise. You’ve all given me a hard earned lesson in that, and I’m forever grateful to you for it.
Rest assured that Hannah (who’s turning five next Wednesday) is well aware of how many people from all over are cheering for her to get better. I know this is probably an odd kind of update, but I wanted to try my best to put into words what all of you have meant to us and the invaluable impact you’ve had on a little girl’s life. Though I don’t expect to meet every single one of you who’ve given of yourselves in various ways to send your encouragement and love, I hope that you know of the lives you’ve changed and the hope you’ve instilled not just within me but in those who’ve watched all of this unfold and seen the response and outpouring of compassion.
There are a lot of unknowns ahead for us as we continue to do Hannah’s follow up visits, more tests, therapy sessions, and a whole lot of waiting. There are scary possibilities including cystic fibrosis, and while the fear of those words by themselves is enough to make me cut and run, I’m more certain than I’ve ever been that no matter what lies ahead, no matter how insurmountable the circumstances may seem, I have a new kind of comfort in knowing that whatever it may be, we won’t face it alone. Again, thank you all for everything you’ve done with the fundraiser and just with the nature of your kindness. I hope to have more good news in the coming weeks as we continue seeking out answers and treatment for Hannah. Love and light all the way to you guys.
Hello, I came across this page through Scott's site and I felt that I had to share a bit of info that I learned of recently. My mother has pulmonary disease and gets chronic pneumonia and bronchitis. She is in her 80's so her condition is one of compromised immunity. She recently started going to sit in a salt room to help with the fluid in her lungs and it has been definitely helping her condition. The woman who owns the salt room initially had it built for her two sons who were born with severe lung issues and she said that they had to be on oxygen all the time and it was completely debilitating. She was feeling that the medical community was not giving her and her sons the answers or results that they needed so she had the room built and they went into the room daily at first until their health improved. She said that they now are both off of the oxygen and only go into the room once a week. Life changing results. I don't know if it could help your daughters condition but I just wanted to give you this info just in case it can.