Hello! I found out about Indiegogo.com in my April 2012 issue of AARP. I did not know this type of fund raising website was available until now. I am impressed by all the generous people out there and I plan to be donor in the future!
In summer 2011 I started walking with a weird gait and it got worse all summer. After seeing a PT, my family doctor and a specialist, I was scheduled for a couple MRIs in September/October 2011. The October MRI of my spine confirmed a spinal cord tumor, an ependymoma, much to my surprise. I had surgery on October 19, 2011 at Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn, MI. Being a fairly healthy 54 year old male with a little arthritis and mild hypertension, this was a big shock to me! In researching cancer and tumors post-surgery, I have learned that tumors develop in an 8-10 year period before they are detected and/or show symptoms.
My benign ependymoma was partially removed and I had cyberknife radiation treatment in December 2011 for the remaining portion and have another follow up MRI scheduled for June 2012. I was walking very slowly on my surgery date with right leg weakness and right leg footdrop. After surgery, my right leg was weaker and I still had foot drop. After 3 weeks in a rehab hospital with 3 hours of PT daily, I was discharged to home and had several weeks of home PT. Getting used to walking all day long with a walker has been an adjustment, but I have made progress in the past 6 months. I am currently going to a local gym twice weekly to work with leg weight machines and ride a recumbant bike, but stlll need my walker partner. It is nice to get out of the house a few times a week! My suburb has a local shuttle bus for seniors and disabled that is my transportation.
My PT doctors tell me that it may take up to 2 years for a complete recovery in my right leg and foot. My right leg is still too weak to drive, but I am looking into renting a portable left foot accelerator to drive with my left foot. I need to discuss with my doctors in April.
From 2002 to my surgery in October 2011, I was working as an expedited small package courier, driving about 90,000 miles annually around Michigan and region. I was an independent contractor and had no benefits except for occupational hazard insurance. Unfortunately, I had no disability insurance and am not eligible for unemployment benefits since I was an IC. I filed a SSI disability application but was recently denied since I am not "disabled enough" and should be able to do some type of office work per SSI. However, I have 24/7 pain in my back and abdomen post surergy and I cannot sit for long periods of time, let alone 40 hours a week working!
Fortunately I have a good BCBS policy that covered my $150,000 estimated expenses of my testing, surgery, cyberknife, and rehab, after a $3,500 deductable. The $3,500 deductable started all over again in January 2012. I already have about $2,500 in charges in 2012 for 6 weeks of PT, MRI, PET scan and doctor visits. My policy does not cover doctor visits, unfortunately, and I have charged these on my only credit card along with overdue charges from 2011 doctor visits.
In October 2011 I declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy since I knew I would have no income for at least 6 months and I would only be able to pay my medical bills. My Chapter 7 was approved in January 2012 and it cost me $1,500 in legal fees. I am fortunate to still have one credit card. It was difficult to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy since I had a 700 plus credit score with no past dues for over 20 years!
So as of April 2012, I have only $100 left in my Fidelity retirement account and $400 in my checking account after selling my bike in the picture for $375 a couple weeks ago to raise money. I had my bike since 1998 and will miss riding it. My car was repossessed in December so I have no car and no bike! This bike money will cover my BCBS payment for April and May. Since my SSI disability was denied in March 2012, I am now reaching out here for some assistance to pay for my medical bills which include my 2012 deductable of $3,500 and about $2,500 on my only credit card from 2011 past due doctor charges.
The past 6 months have been the hardest of my life, but I know it could have been worse. I am thankful to be able to live with my Mom and 2 loving dogs to help me out during my recovery. I am trying to stay optimistic, and if I get a few donations from this posting, I know there are stlll kind and generous people out there!! I hope to be able to become a donor in 2013! Thank you in advance for your donation and/or kind thoughts--all will be appreciated! Gary