Organized by: Matthew Alloway
It was not long ago that Karen was caring for her mother as she battled the emotionally devastating illness of alzheimer’s disease, right on the heals of caring for her sister through a fatal bout with breast cancer. Karen is now alone, trying to care for herself after a viral infection in the base of her spine which has taken the use of her legs. She needs daily assistance to complete the most basic of daily tasks. You have heard a version of this story before: “An individual, living a simple and understated life, mindful of the world around them... has a life-altering health event hit them with no warning.” Because of my work in this field, I have heard enough of these types of stories to fill volumes. Each story is different in the diagnosis, challenges, and the surrounding support available to them. As the individuals are faced with one hurdle after another, the elements of the story work their way toward a resolution. These stories almost always follow a template that, in some ways, can be easily replicated. Then I met Karen, whose story didn’t follow the template, and a resolution to the challenge is no where in sight. At the young age of 59, Karen left work early because she was feeling a little uneasy. Hoping a nap would make her feel better, she rested a bit on her couch. As she was getting up, she abruptly found herself face down on the floor with no control of her body from the waist down. The struggle to get to the phone and unlock the door for paramedics, would be small in comparison to what lie ahead over the next 2-years. Karen had battled and beat breast cancer, and a host of other health challenges, but this would be the beginning of a long struggle, filled with roadblock after roadblock. One of the driving forces in keeping her motivation and strength, is her beloved cat Beauty. Throughout all of these setbacks, Karen has maintained an attitude of resilience and strength. Although at times, depression has taken over and she breaks into tears, or gets upset with the individuals trying to help her, she always bounces back and finds elements of life to be thankful for each day. She has tried to do for herself and loved ones her entire life. She has managed to continue working hard through much of these life changing hurdles. Because of this, she has managed to maintain her home and health insurance. Thankfully, due to her understanding and supportive employer, Karen has been set up with all of the equipment that she needs to continue working from home. However, as you might guess, her expenses and need for long-term care, far exceed what most people need to maintain a home, daily expenses, and pay for additional medical expenses that exceed her insurance. Through all of the struggles, the financial roadblocks seem to be the greatest to get past. Karen is not a wealthy person, but she had enough to be comfortable in her life before her illness. She has more money than most public programs allow for enrollment, and she is too young for others. Her condition requires that she have health coverage, yet her lack of mobility requires that she have people come into her home to help with her daily activities. These types of services add up significantly over time. Because she is so young, she will need care for a very long time. We want to do something for Karen. We are trying to help her pay off some existing medical debt, due to multiple hospital stays and surgeries, and to assist her in continuing to pay for long- term care. Additionally, we would like to modify Karen’s home, to allow her more flexibility to work more hours from home, & to maneuver her wheelchair more fluidly throughout her home. Please help Karen reach her goal by donating what you can to this effort.