Brain Surgery Expense for Tim Denny
**PLEASE SEE MOST RECENT UPDATES**
As many of you know, Tim had life saving brain surgery in May. What you might not know, however, is that brain surgery was the icing on the cake of eight years of devastating changes that have left us in dire need. We urgently need your financial help.
There. I said it. We need help and it’s hard to ask. But you know what? A big spiritual lesson we have learned is that it is as important to ask for help as it is to give it. God has shown us that only through our own humility are we then able to help others.
A lifetime of hypertension of cerebral spinal fluid has caused erosion of the base of his skull so severe that it created a hole through which the brain prolapsed. A lengthy surgery to repair the brain lining and rebuild the skull revealed that the herniation was larger, deeper and older than expected. Complications prevented the team from performing the intended second surgery 4 days later for a permanent shunt, necessary because the other side of his skull is also eroding.
Tim woke up in ICU more articulate and himself than I’ve seen him in several years! We realized then how seriously his health has been affected and what a miracle it is that he is alive. We are so incredibly grateful to the doctors and staff at UAB, and all of our family and friends for your love and support.
We need a lot of help. We have staggering medical expenses in collections. We are behind 2 months on health insurance payments so we can’t get all of the necessary medications filled. We’ve had to cancel the follow-up MRI twice. Close follow up is critical to determine if and when a permanent shunt is needed. Another family member requires immediate and costly healthcare that will not be covered by insurance. We’ve had to postpone this matter due to finances for so long that it has now become urgent and poses serious health concerns.
So what happened? How did we get here?
The last eight years have been the worst (and the best) of our lives. The economy collapsed. We spent 2 years closing down my wholesale company. We filed personal bankruptcy due to business debts. Soon after, Tim’s precious father came to live with us for the last 3 years of his life. I was his primary caretaker through progressive dementia and Parkinson’s disease, which prevented me from rebuilding my design business. Meanwhile, Tim’s business, Davis Denny Advertising, began to suffer from the economic downturn and the partners took drastic cuts in pay in order to keep their valuable, long term employees working.
The loss of income, lack of credit, college tuition and expense of caring for an elderly parent depleted our life savings. When Davis Denny closed in February, 2014, we had nothing to fall back on. We couldn’t cover our basic living expenses, much less our mortgage payments. Tim, so incredibly qualified and experienced, could not find a job and we discovered with horror that ageism is real. We lived day to day, negotiating with utility companies, the mortgage company and others, selling whatever possessions of value we had.
Digs Design, the product design business that Zade and I own, could not get on it’s feet without space or operating capital. We were trapped in survival mode, only able to buy supplies for the towels we hand make when we sold a piece of furniture. Then make and sell and try to pay a power bill with enough left over to buy a few more supplies. But we were finding a community of fellow makers, friends, collaborators and mentors.
In 2015, Tim and I both became involved with Bamawise, a start up grocery distributor of Alabama specialty foods owned by Jeff Gentry. Our combined experience in marketing, branding, manufacturing and wholesale were needed to support Jeff’s vision and business model to help local producers gain access to store shelves statewide and beyond.
But new ventures take time and money to grow and our situation was critical. Our house had been on the market for a year and we still couldn’t make regular payments. In November, the primary lender initiated foreclosure. The secondary lender (“the bank”), with whom we had a personal relationship, agreed to take deed in lieu—they would pay off the primary, lesser amount, we would hand over the deed, walk away and avoid foreclosure.
On November 20, Tim had a simple tube put in his ear because it was always stopped up and was affecting his hearing. From that moment on, clear fluid began draining from the ear. The ENT said it was allergies. Several infections occurred and were treated with antibiotics and ear drops. Persistent questions about the clear fluid went unanswered. Tim’s overall health rapidly declined and severe headaches were getting worse on a daily basis.
In January we received a notice that our house would be sold on the courthouse steps in 3 weeks. The bank said, send us the notice, we will arrange the pay off, it’s all in the works. We received several other verbal confirmations. On Feb. 11, a stranger rang our doorbell on his way to the courthouse sale. My urgent call to our banker was not returned until an hour after our house was auctioned off. What did he say? “Oh, we changed our mind. We decided to let it foreclose first and redeem it later.”
We had nowhere to go, no money, no credit. And Tim was seriously ill. We had to move out of the house by March 23rd. Miraculously we were able rent an apartment. It all becomes a blur for me at that point. A CT scan was finally done, but misdiagnosed the problem as mastoiditis. A second opinion immediately identified the rare brain herniation and we were sent to UAB.
Through all the bad, it’s all the good stuff that stands out. Tim became active in the prison ministry Kairos, spending time listening to inmates in some of the harshest prisons in the state of Alabama. Our daughter Ella married Ben Tzinberg, blessing us with new traditions, extended family and dear friendships. Tim and I know without a doubt that our hearts are firmly committed to our community, our local economy and the needs of small businesses. So much goodness in it all, in each and every day.
Thank y’all for reading this. Please take a moment to share this on Facebook or by email, any help you are able to offer is deeply and sincerely appreciated. Our situation is urgent, and with your help, we can put this behind us and get busy helping others.
However we still have a ways to, wit an immediate and urgent need for March rent, more medical bills, diagnostic tests and most importantly, much needed rehab at Lakeshore. Our insurance won't cover it until our deductible is met and we've had to put it off for months.
I can only imagine that you must be thinking Why can't they just get back on their feet already?! And what does Becky do?? (I'm a product developer, designer and brand marketing and licensing strategist....and a fine artist) I have alot of opportunities in development coming to fruition over the next few months....right now I am focused on getting Tim well and providing for my family. I would be so happy to share more details with you one on one about our long journey so please just ask!
I want you to know that Tim and I want and will give back to you with our skills, talents, services and products. We want to help you in any way we can through volunteering and lending a hand wherever needed. Cause we are workin people and are super uncomfortable asking for charity, you know? I will be sharing lots of info about what we offer over the next few days...perhaps you might consider pre-ordering gifts, or one of Zade's stunning turquoise inlaid wall hangings or commissioning a portrait or family history painting?
Y'all have already done so much more than we could ever deserve or imagine. You've shown us God's grace and love through friendship and community. THANK YOU and so much love, becky
Just found this picture....We went on a Mediterranean cruise 16 years ago, and we had only 5 hours to spend in Rome. I read an article in Esquire about Fellini's life long barber and the old neighborhood. So this is what you can do in 5 hours in Rome.
Your generous gifts allowed us to maintain insurance through the end of January and put many many medical expenses and debts behind us or gave us money to pay toward those expenses. We felt and still feel a sense of unbelievable relief. Thank you.
Within a week of posting our story, we both lost our jobs without warning nor severance. Within 4 weeks, we learned that Tim needed shunt surgery immediately. That was just prior to Thanksgiving and 5 days back in neuro ICU. It was difficult for us to reconcile the relief we'd just experienced with the utter fear we felt with no income and 3 brain surgeries in 5 months.
THEN a few days after Christmas, Tim was stricken with a severe headache on the way home from Asheville. We drove straight to the ER at UAB. He was admitted for the night and the neuro team adjusted the shunt to reduce the pressure and pain. Since then, his recovery has been slower than we expected.
Remember when I told y'all that neurosurgeons always say "easy breezy" before surgery? Afterward, they say "Well it WAS brain surgery(s). It's just gonna take time, about a year."
CURRENT FINANCIAL CHALLENGES
I've increased our goal to get through what we pray is the last leg of it all. Be lost our jobs and another surgery 4 weeks later, it was hard for me to produce income, make enough products and capture enough sales and stabilize. Then it was even harder in January. I just ain't as young as I used to be!
Our immediate needs include past due Feb. insurance ($1800). Tim's been referred to Lakeshore for physical rehab, but we have to meet our deductible of $2800 before he can start. Additionally we have more medical and hospital bills, scans, co-pays, tests, etc and living expenses.
HOWEVER, I want you to know that I have product sales, art commissions and professional services cranking up. And of course, Tim is available for consulting and project work right away. Please hire us!!
We aren't necessarily asking you to donate again, but if you are able, please allow us to give back to you with our professional services, products, art, commissions, even babysitting. Tim's mainly plagued by late afternoon fatigue and headaches. But before 4pm he's good to go!
You have bolstered our faith, listened to our stories and told others about us. One could have no better friends.
With all our love and gratitude, we wish you peace and grace.
Becky and Tim
Now for the update:
Tim’s pre-surgery symptoms began returning slowly about 6 weeks ago--headaches, extreme fatigue. Luckily, we were able to see both of his doctors at UAB within the same 24 hours, with a CT scan in between.
Surgery is scheduled for this Monday to place probe in the brain's ventricular space that will measure cerebral spinal fluid pressure. He will be in ICU for a few days while they monitor the pressure gauge. Then if a permanent shunt is needed, they'll do that surgery Thursday, home on Friday.
The underlying problem is called benign intracranial hypertension. Apparently, Tim has had this condition for many years. He has sleep apnea, which could be the cause, not sure. Over the years, the increased pressure eroded the skull base severely, just above the middle ear. Ulitmately, it eroded all the way through and the brain herniated through that opening. The critical matter in May was to repair the herniation and seal that hole.
However, we just found out that there is an identical hole on the opposite side!! We asked if another herniation could happen—yes, it’s possible. A shunt could help.
Monday is not a major or complicated surgery. We knew this was a possibility, maybe in the coming year, but we never expected it to be so soon! When will this year end?!
They told Tim that the worst part next will be boredom, so he should bring plenty of stuff to do. Visitors are allowed, 2 at a time, anytime except between 6:30 and 8:30 PM. Please feel free to Facebook message Tim or text him next week if you’d like to come visit.
Y’all, thank you. Thank you for the amazing way you’ve rallied around us spiritually, physically, emotionally. So many of you have expressed how much you appreciate our honesty. Man, that means a LOT to us, cause it’s just exhausting to act like everything’s normal and ok when it’s really not. You know what I mean.
Please continue to share our story, not just because we still need some help. Maybe our story, which you are all now such a significant part of, will encourage someone else who is struggling--and feeling embarrassed, depressed, defeated--to reach out to their friends, their church family, their community. We want them to know that sometimes the worst times of your life bring the best things.
I’ll keep you updated, xoxoxo becky
Tim's feeling great! Amazing how damaging stress can be on our health, isn't it? So, so good to see him feeling that relief. CT scan scheduled for December.
We also feel a little panicked, because we recently became full time self employed. Tim is working independently as a marketing consultant to food producers, corporate and non-profit clients, providing strategic planning, design brand development services.
Zade and I are working hard to take Digs Design to the next level, with ramped up production of our towels in order to enter the wholesale market. We're expanding into other soft goods, like bags, totes and t shirts, in a collaboration with Lucy Farmer of Lucy's Inspired. Very good things!
It's all a part of this dream of starting over and it's all developed since we launched this Campaign. Isn't that crazy? Crazy but not a coincidence.
Thank you again for your love and support!
Dear Tim, I read your story and felt so bad for you and your family. I will be praying for you daily and your family. God is always in control! I hope everything gets better for you and you are better soon. Just hang in there because God has your back!Love, Linda Thornton Sanford
Sending lots of love and prayers to your sweet family. Miss seeing your kiddos! Have you considered getting on the sub lists for different schools? We are always in need of subs. You'd be great at it and it's a very flexible schedule wise!
THIS, this community, your people, your friends, even strangers you've never met...this is who we are. We care...we really do. Where there is LOVE, there is HOPE and, there is VICTORY. You are loved. Now....I'm going to go and reapply my makeup.