I've went to the best schools. I've worked my whole life. I never would have thought it could go so wrong, so fast. But it did. It looks like my medically fragile child and I will be facing homelessness in January or February. No one cares. No one wants to hear it. People are mean when I ask for help. We've already become faceless and voiceless like so many other homeless. People seem to blame me. It's terrifying.
I've been a member here since 2007, and I lurk a lot. Today, I decided to tell my story (but I forgot my password and had to rejoin).
The past 7 months have been awful for me as the only parent to a medically needy 7 yo son. I lost my job with Pearson North America unexpectedly in April (they've since laid off 60% of their American work force) and started collecting unemployment and searching for a new one. I had hopes for quick re-employment as I have great experience and education (Seven Sisters undergrad, Ivy League grad school). And I did start interviewing and exploring and was excited about new possibiities.
My son, who had been diagnosed with hypermobility, hypotonia and sensory processing disorder at age 4 sustained broke his left arm on the monkey bars in June. I had to pull him out of camp because of the nature of the break. Three days later, he had 19 facial stitches because of a terrible dog scratch. Two weeks after that, he sprained an ankle. The first cast came off. I was exhausted, stressed, having heart palpitations, but I thought if I started looking for work, I could have a job by the time school started. I'm an academic; I thought that maybe the timing was working out for us.
In early August he broke his other arm, and three days later, he was diagnosed with a connective tissue disorder (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Type III). From mid-August to date, we have had so many appointments with numerous specialists to diagnose or rule out complications with the disorder. I've been in touch with his teacher and the guidance counselor at his school almost daily, and he is seeing OT once a week and PT twice a week at CHOP KoP. To date we have made 142 trips to CHOP in 2013.
My symptoms became more frightening through August -- heart palpitations and chest pain, tingling in my extremities, headaches, tinnitus and utter, inexplicable exhaustion, We schlepped from appointment to appointment for him, with me barely able to walk. I couldn't see a doctor because I had no insurance (and here, in PA, doctors can refuse you an appointment if you don't have insurance). I went to the ER in early September after school started, and I was finally diagnosed with hypothyroidism. It took until early October to start meds, and it took until early November to feel better. I had to wait 4 weeks to see a doctor at a low cost clinic after being diagnosed in the ER because they would not give me medication and they doctor they wanted to see me refused to see me without insurance.
Trying to get a medically needy child settled into first grade and dealing with myriad appointments with health practitioners and school officials about 504 accommodations while feeling barely able to function myself was a challenge and made searching for work very difficult.
In October, my regular unemployment benefits were exhausted. But instead of continuing me on Emergency Unemployment, PA made me file in NJ because I taught there part-time as a adjunct at a community college. It took 4 weeks for them to interview me and reject the claim. Then it took another 2 for PA to approve my EUC claim and and pay me. My landlord has been wonderful and understanding, but this is not fair to him.
Things at school have settled down, and his appointments are waning as we've seen everyone we've needed to. I'm feeling much better on thyroid medication and am actively searching for work and interviewing. I applied for food stamps and was approved for a small monthly, and I may see that benefit soon, so we will be able to eat something other than what the food bank has to offer. My son has food restrictions because of the EDS, but I haven't been able to keep him gluten, dairy, fructose and soy free because I have to rely on what is at the food bank and most of that is...not what he needs. So he is in constant pain and gastric distress.
Thanksgiving was provided by a community group but Christmas is looking bleak for my young son with the overwhelming bills and the end of EUC. I have no family support at all.
I'm searching actively for a job and interviewing, but publishing/higher education move slowly and there will be no hiring until after January 2. Emergency Unemployment will run out at the end of December, and I am truly terrified. I can't believe that they left without addressing this. I have spoken directly with Jim Gerhlach and Pat Toomey and Bob Casey. And then I've emailed and called. I've been in touch with my local representatives, too.
It's terrifying. And Santa surely is not stopping here.