But this was only the beginning. Soon after, I started having extremely heavy periods--I was bleeding almost constantly. Another trip to the doctor confirmed that I had developed a very large fibroid--and that in order to cure the problem, I would have to have a total hysterectomy.
This was quite disastrous for me and my family--one of my children, Ashley, is severely autistic--she functions, in many respects, at the level of a two or three year old child. She requires a great deal of hands on care and supervision--she needs help with many daily living activities, such as bathing. There was simply no way I could take time away from caring for her in order to have surgery major surgery which would take weeks to recover from. No one in my family could--or would--help out while I was in the hospital.
Meanwhile, I was scrambling to keep my bills paid, and find a way to have have the surgery while making sure my kids were cared for while I was sick and recovering from surgery afterward. I thought that surely there would be something to help us out--I had to apply for KTAP--the Kentucky version of TANF, in order to qualify for medical coverage--and deal with all of the crap that went along with having to sue my ex for child support. After being sick for a few months, I was getting a real taste of what it is like for many low income, unemployed single moms in this country--that there is very little assistance available--even in emergency cases involving a disabled child. When I asked at the welfare office whether or not there were any programs in place that would help provide care for children while the parent was hospitalized, I was told that there was nothing available to help us unless I wanted to place my kids in foster care. What a load of shit! And neither were there any private charity groups or churches who would help a person in my situation. If you are a single mother anywhere in the Tea Bagger, fundamentalist christian south, you can basically eat shit and die if you get sick.
At several points during the spring and summer, I talked with my friends here on Daily Kos about the things that were going on in my personal life--and finally, after I had exhausted every possible resource and looked under every rock I could think to look under for help in dealing with my situation--Kossack Aji offered to try to help us out by doing a fundraiser for us so I could afford to hire an agency to come in and have some help with my daughter while I recovered from surgery. Over the next week or so she and several other Kossacks wrote diaries and donated money in order to help us get the help we needed. As a result I was able to hire an agency to send some respite and home health workers to our house so my daughter could have the kind of care she needed. Without the help of this community, I would have literally died, because there was no where else we could turn.
While the fundraiser was going on, my health took yet another turn for the worse--my hemoglobin level dropped dangerously low, and I had to be hospitalized for a few days so I could have a blood transfusion. The doctors at the local hospital here in Richmond seemed to think the anemia was due to the heavy bleeding I had been having due to the fibroid. I was supposed to have had Lupron shot to stop the bleeding and shrink the fibroid some before the surgery, but I did not get the shot until the day after I got out of the hospital.
The surgery was scheduled for September 19. In the time between the hospitalization at the end of July, and the surgery, I developed a blood clot in my leg, ans started having severe pain in my right side--which the doctors at the local hospital said was merely due to a pulled muscle.
Finally, I had the surgery done at St. Joseph East in Lexington. The decision to have the surgery there probably saved my life, since while I was there, the real reason for the chronic anemia--and the pain in my side, was uncovered. I was much sicker than the hospital in Richmond told. The anemia I had was due to autoimmune hemolytic anemia--that was most likely symptomatic of lupus. The pain in my side was no pulled muscle--I had a severe lung infection that I later learned was likely related to the excessive amount of mold in my apartment. I have permanent damage to my right lung as a result. On top of all of this, I developed pleural efflusion a few days after surgery, and had to have a round of lasix in order to get the fluid off my lungs.
In the weeks following the surgery, I saw a number of specialists for follow up care. The pulmonologist who was treating me told me that we absolutely needed to move out of our apartment--but of this I had no doubt. My children have also been sick with various respiratory illnesses since we moved here, and my oldest daughter even had pneumonia. So I went out and found a job as soon as I thought I was physically capable of doing so.
But then, illness struck again at the end of January. The hemolytic anemia had returned--the doctors believed it probably would not come back for a long time. Worse yet, I passed out at work--and as a result, ended up losing the job I had just gotten. I spent three days in the hospital having a blood transfusion.
So I had to spend the next several weeks undergoing treatment to control the hemolytic anemia. Meanwhile, the situation with the mold in my apartment--the downstairs part of a two-story duplex-- had gotten much worse over the winter. Whole sections of the walls in every room of the house were covered in the stuff. Even after cleaning it with straight bleach, the mold in this place comes right back, just as bad as it was before after just a few weeks. The doctors who have been treating me warned me once again about getting moved out of here--the mold could well be triggering lupus flares.
The landlord here will do nothing to correct the problem. I suspect that most of the problem is due to the fact that the drains around the building have collapsed--every time it rains or snows, large puddles of stagnant water sit by the foundation for days at a time. To be truthful, this apartment isn't fit for a dog to live in, let alone a bunch of kids. But the landlord tenant laws here in Kentucky tend to favor landlords--a tenant in my position pretty much has to move out, and then sue the landlord. Without money to move on, somebody like me is basically SOL--they have to just quietly hunker down and put up with whatever abuse the landlord chooses to dish out.
But once again, the Daily Kos community has come to our rescue--just yesterday, we met our fundraising goal of $5000 to cover the cost of moving to another home. We will be able to get out of this hole and into a place that I will eventually own--and that I will be able to make modifications to that will help better accommodate Ashley and her needs.
Without the help of this community, there is a good chance I would have been dead by now--and who knows what would have happened to my kids? For this, I want to thank the community for literally saving me and my family, since there is truly nowhere for somebody in my situation to turn to if they don't have family who is willing or able to help them out.
But in closing, I would like to say I have had quite an eye opening experience. I learned who my friends really are--as well as my enemies. It makes me want to fight that much harder for social and economic justice in this country.