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MsWings, one of our former I Got the News Today (IGTNT) diarists for several years, is in trouble and has given me permission to write and ask for help.

Many of you may know that MsWings had heart surgery about five years ago, followed by life-threatening complications that left a permanent deformity that has resulted in continual pain. Then in February 2012, she suffered a serious stroke. Although she was making great progress recovering from that first stroke, in May she was hit by a series of transient ischemic attacks (TIA, or mini-strokes). This set her back months, and things have been rough.  

MsWings, who devoted countless hours to diaries giving the stories to the often faceless names of U.S. military service members who gave their lives in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, participated in so many community diaries and gave valuable insight on many salient topics. After her stroke and TIA, she lost some of her memory (her email account and DailyKos passwords were the worst, she says, because she lost so much knowledge about how to contact people or even how to get onto DailyKos to read and comment on the site and members' diaries).

She has had trouble with her phone contacts, too, because she cannot remember her log-in information for her (now useless) smartphone. It's basically a paperweight, she says, for the mountains of papers she's trying desperately to keep track of as she schleps through the bureaucracy and bills.

If you wonder why haven't heard from MsWings, she wants you to know it's not because she has forgotten you -- she hasn't; she's just forgotten how to contact you.

She needs you -- and all of us right now. After being tossed from this shore to that because of the outrageous costs and processes of healthcare in the United States, she is about to be evicted from her final refuge. She's being taken to court in a day or two because she needs $200 short to have what she needs for August rent. She has no idea how she'll make her September rent, but she and I are working on that.

Please read more about this courageous woman below the fold.

For some years, MsWings was living with a serious illness called pulmonary hypertension. PH is a debilitating disease that increases pressure in the lung and bronchial vasculature, leading to high risk of heart failure, stroke, and/or death. In 2007, which is when she last wrote for IGTNT, MsWings' PH led to the need for an urgent heart surgery. She subsequently struggled to recover because of the disease's damage to her lungs, heart support structure, and overall blood circulation.

She kept working, though, after her surgery, and fought hard to recover. She participated in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, and she just never gave up. While still recovering, she took care of her elderly mother, raised her then-teen-aged sons, and completed her bachelor's degree (graduating with honors!) --- all while working full-time and maintaining a home for her sons, her mother, and herself.

For the past few years, she kept her home and her job, and she was active in a number of volunteer efforts and causes -- including her support of my when I was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. She worked as hard as she could on the Obama campaign in 2008, even while working and running her small household in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Then came the devastating stroke in February 2012. She had short-term disability coverage through her work, which helped a lot. A grasping family member, however, seized control of her bank accounts and robbed her of much of that short-term disability income. This ultimately left her homeless and without access to funds she earned and deserved to help her regain her footing after coming out of rehabilitation.

Somehow, for a while, she was able to hang onto rent payments for her home. And she worked hard with her caregivers at the rehabilitation center to maximize the excellent rehabilitation care to regain her function in speech, walking, writing/typing, and many other areas affected by the stroke.

But when she was hit by the mini-strokes (transient ischemic attacks, or TIA) in May, things began to fall apart in ways even the tenacious MsWings could not knit back together again.

MsWings applied for Social Security Disability Insurance a few months ago, and SSDI says they made a decision on her case in July. But while her resources were running out, she was moved from hospital to residential rehabilitation center to lower-level care facility over the months. Her cozy home in Greensboro was lost to her in June, while she was still trying to regain use of her body after the TIA events.

She has since been released from care facilities and rehabilitation centers but has had nowhere to live. After a brief and bitter few days living with a relative who threw her out when she refused to give over her medical power of attorney to this relative, she finally landed in a residential motel.

When MsWings called SSDI about her case, they told her there's a decision but she'll have to wait to receive the mailed decision --- but she's been moved hither and yon so many times in the past few weeks that it might be a while before she receives that letter. And they won't tell her anything until she gets that letter in the mail.

(Chances are, of course, that her case was denied; 70% of applications for SSDI are denied upon first application, regardless of severity of disability.)

Things are looking very bleak for MsWings right now. Depression has taken hold -- not only circumstantial blues but the deep depression that comes from heart/lung impairment and the batterings of stroke and other disability.

But her efforts to regain use of her body and mind and continually progress and sharpen her abilities are inspiring!!!  And that woman has NEVER lost touch with her sense of humor!  If you've befriended her on Facebook and/or have had the chance to talk or otherwise communicate with her since this past spring, you can see the progress she has made from being entirely unable to communicate via the written word to being able to tap out messages using one hand. She's got a wickedly self-deprecating river of banter about her disabilities, and sometimes you just laugh out loud despite yourself.

MsWings realizes with her abundant grace and humor that we have to be patient to read her posts properly sometimes -- but it's easy to see that she is one tough cookie! Her progress has been nothing short of miraculous, due in small part to miracles but in large part to her stubborn (ha!) nature, her resilience, and that indefatigable can-do attitude that is trademark MsWings!

You would never know (and she would likely never tell you) that she has hit a very rough patch and is struggling mightily right now. More mightily than she ever has before. I won't get into everything, but I will tell you that I was worried enough to want to hop into my car and drive over to Greensboro and check on her. But as ironies abound in the this world, there is irony not only abounding but over-abounding: I'm just a week out of hospital myself after my brain tumor and cerebral spinal fluid pressure (along with a bad interaction of MRSA medications with my regular meds) created a couple days of short-term blindness, ataxia, and inability to communicate properly. (I'm better now but still can't drive that far.)

I couldn't drive to Greensboro last night to talk with her and talk her out of something, but fortunately I knew of an agency that could. And they did that very thing last night.

Let me tell you a few things that MsWings and I have been working on the past day or two to get her hooked up with agencies and organizations that can help.

But first let me ask that if you can give a few dollars to help her make up that $200 shortage for her August rent and a little something for her September rent, that's going to give her some piece of mind and some much-needed and much-earned sleep at night. She's going to need that sleep for the fight that still lies ahead!

While waiting for that agency counselor to arrive at her home, MsWings and I talked on the phone for a long time yesterday. We made a list of things that can be done to help. First, I asked her whether I could write this diary and ask you to consider making a small donation for her rent.

She's just $200 short for August. If we can help her with September, that would be awesome, too. But for now, let's work on August.

Please, if you can chip in just a few bucks to PayPal, the new email we created (she cannot remember the password for her original GMail account) is MsWings153{at}gmail{dot}com. We know she won't be able to access these funds for a few days, but a promise to her landlord that funds are coming and someone at her eviction hearing to say the same will make the difference.
I don't have access to her new account (I just want you to rest assured that she's still taking control of these things; I'm just writing this for her because her stroke and TIA have left her unable to write this diary herself). I merely stayed on the phone while she created it and checked back with her later to make sure she was able to confirm that it works.

We both realize there have been concerns about scams and frauds here in our community recently. But keep in mind that this is MsWings, we're talking about -- one of our IGTNT diaries for nearly four years, and a longtime commenter and diarist and YearlyKos/Netroots Nation attendee. She has volunteered countless hours for Netroots for the Troops, and she is nothing short of magnificent. Her heart is bigger than all of North Carolina, which you know if you have ever been lucky enough to have just a few words with her. If you doubt that this is the real deal, contact me and I'll ask her if it's ok for you to contact her, and you'll know her immediately.

But before creating that PayPal account, the first thing we did was contact an organization called Therapeutic Alternatives. This is a nationwide program that starts with crisis management and empowers clients to make and achieve goals with the help of service agencies in their communities and their own will to succeed. In many cases, Therapeutic Alternatives will send a 24-hour crisis counselor to the home of anyone experiencing a critical crisis, such as suicidal thoughts, housing emergencies, mental-health crises, and myriad other issues. A counselor can meet clients at their homes to do initial intake and give them a list of contacts that the counselor and the client can make in the next few hours.

Therapeutic Alternatives is AMAZING! I say this as a former client whose life was transformed after a suicide attempt last November brought me in touch with an emergency-room physician who made that initial contact to TA for me. By 2:30 that morning, a counselor was meeting with me and giving me all kinds of ideas of what can be done to turn around what seemed like a dismal downward spiral that could not possibly be stopped before it hit rock bottom and six feet under rock bottom.

I knew that a TA counselor would be able to (as someone did with me) meet with MsWings and lift a weight from her shoulders. Already by this morning, that counselor has begun working with her to channel MsWings into professional therapy, counseling, and social services that could create a safety net for her that will hold her until she can stand on her own two feet again.  

When I chatted with her online last night around midnight, that's exactly that happened. She was finally able to sleep.

She agreed to tell her son what's been going on. He immediately came over with his puppy dogs and will sleep on her sofa for a few nights until his mom is feeling better. Her son removed many of MsWing's unneeded medications from the home, thanks to the promise MsWings made to him and to me and to the counselor from Therapeutic Alternatives. He's going to be with her a few days, just as he has seen her through these bitter struggles these past few months.

Today's busy for MsWings also because she's contacting the constituent services office of Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina. Sen. Hagan's constituent services are very strong, and she has a staff in MsWings' hometown of Greensboro who will help her fill out forms and provide a Letter of Interest to SSDI and get that information about MsWings' SSDI application.

Next we're using Kitsap River's advice and getting her a disability attorney. First I have referred her to my own disability attorney here in Wake County, and hopefully Lila can refer MsWings to an attorney in nearby Guilford County or will make arrangements to see MsWings in Greensboro.

We also combed through agencies in Guilford County that received community block grants for emergency housing funds. MsWings will be working with a social worker to help her plough through that list quickly and get some news about a more salubrious living situation than the motel she's living in now. There are likely grant funds available through an agency, but that's a longterm process and can take up to 90-120 days to process, approve, and implement a successful grant application.

We're getting her some help with the world of forms she needs to fill out. This will be through the Social Security Administration itself, Sen. Kay Hagan's office, a social service organization, and a few other resources we pulled together.

We got her a copy of a Wake County catalog called Resources for Seniors, and this morning I made contact with its counterpart in Guilford County. That's coming in the mail to her soon, and we can sit down and look through that for some other resources for her.

She'll get some medication assistance here and there through her docs and their help with paperwork applying for prescription-assistance programs.

Oh, my. It is going to be a busy week for MsWings.

But she is facing an eviction proceeding either tomorrow or Wednesday (she cannot quite remember), and I'm asking my fellow Kossacks to help me pull together a couple hundred dollars to stave off eviction on top of the foreclosure and other housing indignities she's already faced.

Thank you so much for reading about this amazing Kossack who's given so much to our community. MsWings apologizes for being "scatterbrained" (ha! as if!) and not being able to post here as MsWings herself (she can't type very well with one hand, and she makes a lot of errors while trying to peck away at the keyboard). But she wants you to know that she remembers and treasures every moment of being part of the DailyKos community and can't wait to get back to being part of it once again. VERY SOON!!

Be well, MsWings, and fly with these new wings you're building for yourself!!! I love you. We love you. You have been there for so many of us; let us sit with you now and read to you and sing with you and just relish your company for many, many years to come.

UPDATE: Here is a note from MsWings. Please be patient with the typos; she is progressing but is tapping away at the keyboard with one hand. She still cannot access DailyKos directly through her old user ID because she cannot remember many passwords to things, including DKos. But read for yourself:

yhe kindness and generosity of the Dasily KJos community has blown me away. August is covered with a good start on September.antime will you pass along ,=my thanks

I appreciate the diary and the comments I wish I could post directly at Daily Kos ' I'lllook into passsword rfesert/recovery options.  n the mean ti,r wsill you share my thanks and joy/. I never imagined whrn I found Daily Kos the tremendous ways it wou;d o,peoce ,,y ;life. It started woth gettong to know some amazing people. then anaryunity to be a [-aet of somethinhg non-poliyixal and amazing, I was honored tp brcomer a part of the IGTNT team.

then yesterday when fear, anxiety and deep depression overtook me, I reached out to the one person I knew would understand and give jr;pfi;suggestrions rather than judge me and gobe me platitude,s. in the aspan of less than 24 hours I';ve gone frpm utter hopelessness to heart--bursting joy and peace knowing I will stillo have a home next week. (court is on Wedfnesday;)to,orrow I'll be checking out some those local agencies which may be abke to help. if they are, today's generous outpouring will be banked tpwardSeptember's rent.uou are eaxh a,azomg, womderfu;, grnrtous ptop;e, together ypu ,alr a cp,,imoyu I'm lucky and ptoud to be a paer of/

Originally posted to MsSpentyouth on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 11:38 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Fundraisers, IGTNT Advisory Group, KosAbility, Kossacks helping each other, Positive Intention and Lovingkindness, CareGiving Kos, and Invisible People.

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