Disabled Young Woman On Dialysis Seeks Grant For Medical Debt Relief
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)
My name is Melissa Estes and I am a 30-year-old Mexican/American Indian woman with Chronic Kidney Disease.
When I was 24 years old and working as a checker at Whole Foods Market, I was diagnosed and told I would have to start dialysis treatments.
In June of 2004 I became disabled and was forced to quit my job.
I had just started dating my future husband Rob when I became hospitalized the first time.
All I could think were things like, "How is this going to change my life?" and "Will my boyfriend still be with me?"
When they sent me home to start peritoneal dialysis treatments, I knew learning the machine was going to take some time since I grew up with very few electronics in my house.
Rob learned the machine within a few days and showed me how to set up the machine and hook myself up to it.
Without his help I would have not been able to give myself treatments, and probably would have had to have a home health aide to assist me.
Both my mother and Rob took turns taking months of time off work and alternating with one another to take care of me.
They both made great sacrifices to help me with my treatments. Taking this time off set them both back financially, but they still did it.
In December 2006 I became severely depressed with being so young and having such a huge disability. I shut down and became very ill.
My legs became very weak, and since I wasn't using them enough they developed blisters that turned into infections. I soon couldn't walk and had to see a wound doctor.
I was unable to walk for a year and I had to pay out of my own pocket for all the medical expenses incurred from that time.
I have also had to pay out of pocket for all my kidney medications since being diagnosed.
In September of 2008 Rob and I decided to become one.
Earlier that year Rob's work had laid off 80 percent of their employees, along with cutting back on company expenses.
This major cut in pay had us falling behind on our rent, car payments and utility bills.
The fact that I can't work puts us in such a financial bind that we sometimes have to get mini loans for food and gas to get to the next paycheck.
In December of 2010 I became so stressed that I started internally bleeding. Rob found me lying on our bedroom floor, picked me up, and took me to the ER.
Due to the lack of blood in my body and the remainder of my blood becoming infected, I died for 2 minutes.
There was no oxygen going to my brain. Rob had lost me for 2 minutes of his life.
In March of 2011 Rob developed pericarditis and became very sick for a month and a half. I was taking care of him, and in my condition it was very difficult.
My love for Rob and what he has done for me in the past out-weighed the hardship of it all, and I was able to endure despite my physical limitations.
Since Rob was unable to work for a month, all of our bills - medical, rent, utilities, car payments - have now fallen behind.
We are finding it difficult to gather enough money just to pay the basic necessities of daily living.
I'm currently in a clinic doing hemodialysis and going to USC for a kidney transplant in the near future.
I can't keep up with the rising prices of gas and the new medications. There is also upkeep on the new kidney, food, exercise, medication and so-forth.
I am a life turned around, and around again. I am determined to make this transplant work to the best of my ability.
To do so I have to get myself back on my feet financially.
I need help doing that, thus I am humbly asking for a grant to help settle past medical expenses, catch up on car payments and rent, and get us settled so I can concentrate on my health with a clear mind.
With chronic kidney disease, my kidneys shut down and cannot remove toxins from my body. It's a sickness that runs on my mom's side of the family.
My grandfather had it and one of my uncles has it. It started when I was 24 years old. Now that I'm 30 it's wearing my body down every day. I don't have enough energy to keep up with life all day.
We're stressed financially because of me not being able to work for the past 7 years. My car has been repossessed 3 times.
I'm late on rent going on 3 months now. I haven't been able to pay the electric bill for 6 months and the gas might get turned off. Just to name a few things.
Our house has black mold growing everywhere. My car is running on its last wheel and we have to keep borrowing money to make it to the next paycheck.
Medical bills keep adding up as well as new medications. The special foods and drinks we need to stay and feel healthy really add up.
I haven't worked a normal job in years. I've tried to work with friends as a caterer or in restaurants but due to my sickness it is hard to keep up and stand for long periods of time.
I would like to get on "the ticket to work" program soon. A program helping disabled to get back into work. I would like to return to my old job at Whole Foods Market.
I'm looking for grant money. I have SSDI and have tried to get food stamps but was told that I've had made too much in the past.
I get a little help on some medications but not most. I would really appreciate a grant that offers money that I don't ever have to pay back.
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