Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Between a Rock and a Hard Place - One Cup at a Time

Alt. Title: Quack!

I have a friend of mine who has found herself between a rock and a hard place.  And I write this post both as a cautionary tale, but also as a plea for help.  Because frankly, this story breaks my heart, and I feel helpless, otherwise, to help her, so I am hoping that together we might be able to make a difference for someone who could really use it.

My friend was metaphorically hit by a truck last November.  I am not a doctor, and I don't pretend to understand half of what she does choose to share with me regarding the details, and frankly, she's a fairly private person, so she doesn't share many of the details.  But what details I can remember of provide have to do with several surgeries including on the thin membrane between sinuses and the brain - and I think - but maybe I made this up in my horror - brain fluid leaking into the sinuses.  I know my imagination contrived what I think was a real possibility that she could sneeze out grey matter.  Either way, apparently, that membrane does not heal itself and cannot be repaired.  There were also complications from surgery, and further heart issues developing, although I'm not sure if those are related to the first part or something completely new just for fun. 

Frankly, while all of the above is fuzzy, the pertinent detail is that she has had some significant health issues in the last twelve months and they are not yet resolved.  The last recommendation by her doctor was that she should go visit some experts at the Mayo Clinic, and she was waiting to hear back from them when all of this happened.

At the time she was hit by the metaphoric truck, she was working in sales for a small-medium sized local company.  She did what most of us would do, and took sick leave, and then vacation leave, and then her company did what most companies would do and put her FMLA leave.  At one point she thought she was able to return to work, and I think the first time she did, she was back for a week and then some of those other complications mentioned above arose, and she had to take off again, and then exhausted her FMLA leave, but eventually returned to work with limited duty.  (Again, some of these details may be off or not quite right, but the exact details or sequence frankly isn't important here, so bear with me that I have a fuzzy knowledge... ). 

We actually went to lunch together on the day she finally returned to work in May.  When she returned to the office, the IT guy was in her office and locking down her laptop, and asking for her phone.  She was let go that day, and has been unemployed since.

Now, on these next details, I'm a little anxious to write out because I'm not sure what the current status of things are for her legally regarding unemployment and disability and I don't want to write the wrong thing and then have that used against her later.  At first, she thought that she was capable to work - part of the reason she returned to work - but as time has gone on and medical issues have continued, it has become clear that she is not able to work. 

For the first few months, her COBRA payments were being paid, but given her confirmed incapacity to work, she is not eligible for unemployment benefits, and if she were to apply for disability, she cannot apply before a year has passed (this next month) and apparently it takes up to eighteen months to process, all while receiving no payments.  The source of payment for her COBRA payments has now ceased, and she feels that she has no choice but to let her COBRA lapse.  She has no income. 

This potential scares me to no end.  Given her existing medical complications and issues, trying to get insurance again other than through an employer will be impossible or prohibitively expensive - and I don't pretend to understand the current status regarding exceptions for pre-existing conditions.  Regardless of future insurance, she still needs medical treatment NOW.  She needs to go to the Mayo Clinic NOW.  She needs medications NOW.  And she can't afford any of them. 

The cautionary tale here is while the duck may seem cute in the AFLAC commercials, having short-term disability insurance is invaluable.  Her company neither provided short-term or long-term disability insurance, so she has nothing now that she can rely on.  She has depleted much of her savings, and would rather dedicate what remains to food on the table and a roof over her head.  (This is why *I* don't have health insurance currently)  If your employer offers you an option for short-term disability insurance, take it.  And companies, if you can, offer your employees this opportunity, and provide long term disability insurance for them.

Because an unexpected health issue can destroy your life without them and make an already difficult situation that much harder by complicating the financial situation of someone who is already going through a difficult life-threatening condition. 

I have prayed on this matter and would give her what little savings I have accrued in order to help cover her insurance.  She is a proud woman who I know is still struggling to figure out how she got into this situation, but still determined, somehow, to take care of herself.  *SHE* is not looking for hand-outs.  She won't take my limited reserve.  A month ago, I offered to do a community fundraiser for her but she didn't want to be seen as a victim (my words, not hers).  She doesn't want to ask for help.  She doesn't really want to take help that is already being given to her.  But I don't want to see her have to handle the additional stress that all of this - and in particular going without health insurance - and what it will do to her. 

She is one of my Jenga pieces and has already known about this blog.  With still much reluctance, she has agreed to allow me to do a solicitation for her anonymously to help her pay her health insurance.  Even that, neither of us feel particularly comfortable.  But I hope by now, readers, you trust that I would not scam you.

But I am asking for your help.  She's set up a PayPal account using the e-mail address (Yes, she's an NCIS LA fan - apparently my real life friends choose CBS shows for their pseudonyms).  I think that's all the identifying information you need to send money through PayPal, but if I am wrong, please advise.  So, I ask you if you have a PayPal account*, to send her the cost of a cup of coffee you might otherwise spend today.  Or a week's worth of coffees.  I don't have *that* many readers, so I don't know if this will do anything more than cover another month of her health insurance, but I can't stand by and do nothing, and even then another miracle could occur with the additional time.  Her situation breaks my heart, and while she doesn't want my pity, and really doesn't want my help, she can't do this alone. 

So.. forgive me for asking, but if you can help, it would be appreciated.  If you can re-tweet this post or put it on Facebook, to widen the audience, then maybe we can work a miracle.  Certainly, if you are able, and willing to provide more, it would be wonderful - but I know that times are tight for us all, many around us are in need, and I am asking you to take on faith the story of my friend.  So I won't ask for more than a cup of coffee - or a week of coffee, but I don't want to discourage those of you who can and would do more. 

Over to the right, at the top, there is a link to share on various social media.  Please do so.  Please encourage your friends to do so.  Let's make a difference.  One cup at a time.

Thank you.

*  I think PayPal will also take payments from other forms, too, such as credit cards, but I am not familiar with it. 

P.S.  If this is your first time to my blog, welcome.  Thank you for your kindness, and I hope you will stick around and check it out.  Not all of my posts are quite so heart wrenching! :)


  1. It's a beautiful thing you're doing to help your friend. And I second having STD insurance (as well as LTD). I was able to use my STD when I was on maternity leave to extend it when my husband was suddenly recalled to active duty and sent to the desert. You just never know when something's going to happen.

    I pray your friend will be able to get the care she needs, and I will be donating my cup of coffee. Wish I could do more!


    1. Thank you! It is easy to underestimate what we might need or that we might ever find ourselves in such a situation. I know she'll appreciate your "cup"!

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you so much! Both are much appreciated!

      Welcome to my blog - I'm not sure I've seen you here before. Please come back soon! :)

  3. On my way to do it now. ;-) My thoughts and prayers are with her. She is blessed to have you in her life. Clearly.