I need help raising at least $1,500.00 dollars. I have a friend named April that has received a long awaited and unexpected chance at life. The financial burden has shrunk from a few hundred thousand to this last bit of need. Time is running out and I am making a public appeal for the remaining funds to cover hotel and meals by the Mayo Clinic. All of us have our own stories of adversity. Each of us has stared into the abyss and it has stared back at us. Many of you forward touching, inspirational, and poignant examples of challenges overcome and needs unmet. In all the time I have known April I could not explain all the medical adversity she has faced because she was always courageous, kind, concerned about others and never elaborated on her constant brush with death. I never heard complaints only concern for her husband, family members, and friends and the sacrifices that others would make due to her never-ending health problems. Two days ago I asked April to write me a letter telling me about her medical journey, how she discovered an Angel, and allow me to share her story. I have edited out some of the really personal stuff, added links, and did some underscoring and bold print. I did not describe the extend of my sharing to her. This is April’s story in her own words.
I have survived a myriad of battles in regards to my health, and taunting of paternalistic doctors saying “it’s all in your head,” or “we don’t know what to do with you anymore.” But I eventually got worse, or nearly died which proved to them that I was not faking. I started to lose faith in myself and in the medical field. I have several medical issues along with an auto-immune disorder that is so rare a doctor in Seattle, WA told my husband and me “that only 300 people in the nation have it.” It only has a number, not a name. I have come close to death over 7 times in my life, along with 26 plus surgeries and hundreds of hospitalizations, which only came with a host of complications.
The most painful condition I suffer from is called, Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome, CRPS, or what was previously named “RSD, or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. This is a severe neurological syndrome that causes the body to experience pain that is disproportionate to the extent of the primary triggering injury. This was triggered by a severe ruptured disk in my lumbar area. And anyone who has suffered a back ache or sciatica knows the sharp and unforgiving pain. I first had it in 1995 and ended up with a bilateral sympathectomy and a 3 month hospital stay. I was in remission for 10 years. Now, it is back with a vengence, along with serious degenerative buldging discs and a narrow spinal cord.
Having nerve pain these past six years and four spinal surgeries with screws that were placed two different times has taken its toll. I am unable to enjoy or do anything I use to do. For one, being the wife I promised in my wedding vows. Little did my husband know that when he spoke “in sickness and in health,” that we would actually experience this literally. Yet, he is so loyal to me. He is my comfort and my joy. I also loved gardening, yard work. water sports, hiking, and camping. Being with my girls, family and friends was everything to me. I have volunteered over 5 years in public schools; I did multiple fundraisers raising thousands of dollars for others. I also sang in a concert choir at the local college I attended and received my nursing and college degree. I loved watching the civic theater, taking my girls to their football or piano practice and the beach. Now I cannot even go out to a restaurant with my husband without being in extreme pain. Time has moved on and so has everyone else. I miss my daughter’s daily lives and rarely get to see my two year old granddaughter.
Since that fateful day July 2003, when I rolled out of bed, my life has halted. Now that I have suffered enough and have been “the good patient’; I have taught myself what I used to teach my patients. Be your own advocate! Changing my attitude and keeping the faith that was deep within, eventually opened the clouds and exposed an angel. I say angel because first I believe that God protects and has a purpose for me. I collect angels and have over 20 “guardian angel pins” from former patients of mine. My best friend and I always gave angel gifts to each other. And my house was decorated with a lot of angel items. Because by nature I am a survivor, I decided last fall to use the resiliency of my spirit and get on the internet and research my disease for help. Most important, was since I lost my career as a nurse, I still wanted to give back and help others. But I didn’t know how. My condition had cost me years of severe unrelenting burning and deep pain. This pain deprived me of my career, my home, my car, my independence, my health and ending in the loss of my authentic self. This was the worst thing I had experienced in my life. Losing my “authentic self” was a burden to my soul.
Then in June, my insurance company told me they were sending me to the Mayo Clinic and my appointment was already set up. I only needed to fly there and find a hotel. So I went online, looked at all the information and called them. They told me there were only two commercial flights that give a discount to patient flying in for treatment. I was nervous I’d lose the gift of going to the Mayo only because I couldn’t afford the flight. Everything was so expensive and we do not have that kind of money to plop down. My flight alone was over $1300.00. My husband’s was about $600.00 so I began to favor the idea of not eating for a week just to save money. I also knew I would not be able to even sit at all, and most likely would be denied the flight. I know this because I cannot even ride in a car without wanting to cry. I could not imagine a cross country flight with three layovers. So, I decided to continue to reach out for help and I called the Mayo Clinic Social Services department. I asked for help. I shared my story and asked what other options there were to get a flight. The lady was so sensitive to my human plight. She gave me information of volunteer doctors that fly patients in need to hospitals like the Mayo Clinic. The first two I called only flew a 500 mile radius and wanted money upfront. My spirits were sinking. Feeling low, I decided to take a moment and feel the space I was in and pray.
In a matter of moments I decided to call the last name she gave me;“ANGEL MED FLIGHT.” When I called, a very calm and reassuring voice was on the end of the line. I thought to myself, “divine intervention?” He did not even know an ounce of information about me, but I felt he had known me forever. His name is Dee. I shared with him that my middle name is Dee. I knew then, that the angel I had prayed for was before me. Dee gathered some information about me and told me that someone would call within the hour. At first I was thinking “yeah right, it will be this week or something.” I was trying not to gain hope and then come soaring down with a thud. Within the hour Jeremy Freer called me. He is the CEO, President and Founder of this organization that helps people like me. “Like me,” I thought. Wow, I started to share with him my story and it led me to tears as it always does. He was as compassionate and comforting as Dee. Jeremy’s ability to feel and understand what I was going through was amazing to me. I told him “no one has ever offered to help me.” It was always me struggling and breaking ground to make something happen so I could get well. I am tired of fighting the fight. I am tired of being the nurse and the patient at the same time trying to avoid complications because a medical person did not take me serious. And now, I feel I have someone fighting for me.
Finally peace envelopes my heart. Jeremy is in constant contact with me. He told me not to worry and things will work out. They handle insurance needs; they handle all the doctor and medical records. They even have an ambulance ready to take me from the flight to my room that is waiting for me at Rochester, MN. I feel like I am in a dream and that this usually happens to other people. Well now maybe I can renew my faith in the medical field and faith in myself. Now I can say I have helped others and they have helped me in return. Just as I thought and then found out, Jeremy’s website says when you click on it…. “Divine Intervention.”
So I find myself doing what I have never done in all my 47 years – asking for help. I did not ask when I was raising my two daughters alone. I did not ask for help to go back to college. I did not ask for help when I was losing my career and my home. I have this last opportunity for a healthy life and I am so close. In the Mayo clinic packet, it states about 5 to 7 working days before a treatment plan is gathered. I don’t know what they will do with me, but we have to prepare for at least 7 to 10 days hotel which is $99.00 per night. I have asked for a fridge and microwave so we can go to the grocery stores and buy our own food. I know I can get well, and I know I can get the quality of my life back. I’m so close. Thanks for asking me to share this with you Dan.
That is her story and God has blessed April with this opportunity. Now we have a chance to help out with a truly Happy Ending and remove the final portion of the financial burden. Please send what you can to April Douglas P.O. Box 3136, Bonners Ferry, Idaho 83805. You can email April at: email@example.com if you would like to learn more about how she was able to help herself by performing as both patient and medical caregiver.