Grants For Ayah With Multiple Disabilities To Regain Health And Build Business
by Ayah Broome
(Northridge, California, USA)
Can you comprehend rapidly losing everything you worked so hard for? We never think it could happen to us… until it does.
My name is Tanisha Broome. I'm 35 years old and I am originally from the breathtakingly beautiful Caribbean. I migrated to the United States in 2004 to pursue career fulfillment, happiness and the American Dream.
With no husband or children, I felt I could laser focus on my dreams. After years of dedication and sacrifice, I launched my Brand Development Agency to help small businesses thrive. It was one of my proudest accomplishments.
Like most budding entrepreneurs, I did some things right and some things wrong. However, my innate desire to help others realize their dreams fueled my passion to overcome the obstacles and succeed.
Nothing prepared me though for the wrecking ball that came right at me out of the blue. I never imagined 15 months after launching my brand agency I would be forced to dissolve it. I never dreamt that I would lose my entire life savings and become homeless.
Out Of The Darkness Into The Light
Albert Camus said, "In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." I wasn't aware of the true depth of the inner strength that lay within me until it was challenged.
My first acute symptom appeared on May 17, 2014. I woke up with both my eyes bloodshot red and unable to see out of my right eye. My vision was rapidly declining. Within 2 months I was diagnosed legally blind.
From there several other symptoms started to surface. I became very weak. Going outdoors became unsafe because my legs just could not support me AND I had extremely low vision – it was like trying to see in a dense fog.
As a result, I fell a couple of times. I started to experience excruciating muscle pain throughout my entire body and debilitating cramps in my fingers and legs. I started dropping things.
I continued to deteriorate rapidly. For months I went to several doctors but they were unable to diagnose what was wrong with me. My primary care physician eventually referred me to USC Hospital in July 2015.
For over a year I had no idea why I was deteriorating so rapidly but while at USC after several tests I received my first diagnosis of Myocarditis and Pericarditis, which is inflammation in the heart muscle and lining. I was at high risk for a heart attack and stroke.
I continued to decline and was transferred to a rehab hospital. I lost all sensitivity from the waist down and became paralyzed. I couldn't walk. I couldn't swallow well. A feeding tube was inserted. I started to experience bladder and bowel incontinence as well. A Foley catheter was also inserted.
I developed steroid induced diabetes because of the extremely high dose of steroids I had to take (and still do) as a course of treatment.
Myositis is inflammation in the muscles. This was one of the reasons that caused my weakness, severe pain, and why I was losing muscle mass so rapidly.
After several tests and a muscle biopsy I was diagnosed with yet another inflammatory disease called Myositis, as well as a rare autoimmune condition called Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder (MCTD), a rare condition where one person has more than one autoimmune condition.
I was diagnosed with possibly 6. I say possibly based on my understanding of what the doctors said. I have so many symptoms that overlap and my test results show I have markers for several but I'm not a classic case for any one. This makes it very difficult to diagnose me with absolute certainty.
The diseases I was diagnosed with are: Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Neuromyelitis Optica, Scleroderma, Polymyositis and Raynaud's Syndrome. Although I wasn't a "classic" case for any, I still experience extreme symptoms for all.
I wasn't responding to the standard treatment for such conditions and eventually had chemotherapy as a last course of treatment. There wasn't as much improvement as the doctors had hoped. The pain increased immensely and I was placed on pain management and palliative care.
My doctors continued to try several other courses of treatment. I eventually started to improve. I did intense physical therapy to rebuild muscle and core strength. With much determination, after six months I was able to walk again.
The feeding tube and catheter were removed.
I was hospitalized 7 months from July 26, 2015 to February 29, 2016.
From there, I was discharged to an Assisted Living Facility because I am still not medically stable and it's unsafe to live on my own at this time. Since my discharge in February, I was admitted to the hospital again by ambulance for acute pain.
I still experience several flare-ups often. Some days are good and I can walk around indoors. Other days, I experience crippling pain and am bedridden or have to use a wheelchair.
My vision has not improved and I'm not a candidate yet for a cornea transplant because I am not medically stable.
My conditions are not curable and they are progressively debilitating. If that wasn't already enough on my plate, the financial hardship I'm experiencing also weighs heavily on me.
My life has drastically changed. I was thrust into extreme poverty and homelessness. At this time I do not have ANY source of income.
I do not qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
For basic items such as toiletries, I must depend on the charity of others.
Medical bills wiped out my savings. And with no income, getting back on my feet and becoming financially independent once again is next to insurmountable.
My low vision precludes driving, so I rely on my case manager to take me to appointments outside the ACCESS service area.
I can't attend church or my Toastmasters meetings or any other social activities on my own because I don't have transportation. If I can't arrange a ride with a friend I'm stuck at home.
My desire to enjoy financial freedom is significantly thwarted due to my illness. Returning to work fulltime is not feasible at this time. I still experience several flare-ups, which makes it extremely difficult to plan my days and honor commitments.
My vision also impairs my ability to complete many tasks. Simple tasks that prior to my illness would take me 15 minutes to complete on the computer now take 2 hours, which limits my productivity.
Sometimes, I can't use the computer at all or any electronic device, even though I have enhanced the visual settings.Income Efforts
Have you noticed how chronically ill persons with a positive attitude often experience faster recovery and enjoy a more fulfilled life? I did also and even though the obstacles before me are great, I refuse to adopt a defeated attitude.
I've submitted applications to the Braille Institute and the Department of Rehabilitation to work with their counselors. The expertise and resources available to me through these agencies are unparalleled.
My ultimate goal is to enroll on June 20, 2016 into an industry leading computer-programming course at a private vocational school. This skill once acquired will be pivotal in helping me relaunch my business and become financially self-sufficient once again. I have begun the application process and I'm researching possible scholarships I may qualify for.
In the meantime, I use my existing skills to make ends meet. During the tax season when physically able to, I filed taxes for some of my former clients and I also worked on smaller brand development projects for former clients.
Some churches asked me to share my story and I received donations.
I am currently working with my medical caseworker on some public speaking engagements to share my story, for which I will receive donations.
Of course, the money earned from these endeavors barely covers my expenses and is not enough to declare financial independence.Specific Needs
First of all, I need a grant to pay for the computer-programming course. The cost of the program is $14,195, which includes tuition and related expenses such as a new computer and mobile devices with specialized software for low vision. My doctors and medical caseworker have cautioned me on doing too much at once. Therefore, a grant for school would allow me to exclusively focus on school without the burden of financing it on my own.
My second reason for wanting to secure a grant is to launch a home business after completing school. To get a jumpstart, I am currently working on my business plan. I signed up with SCORE and I've already met with a mentor to assist me in completing the business plan and developing a go-to-market strategy.
The third reason I need a grant is to cover the cost of supplements. I've done extensive research and with the advice of my doctor identified supplements that could improve my health. However, they are not covered by Medi-Cal and I have no other way to pay for them. To experience the benefits of these treatments, I must take them consistently each month and I need the finances to maintain this regimen.
Lastly, I am seeking advice on any additional benefits I may qualify for to help me accomplish my goals of higher education and launching my business.Business Idea
I'm working on a plan for a business tentatively called "7 Figure Success," an online brand development academy based in Los Angeles County. It would offer coaching tailored to help home-based businesses develop brands that break the seven-figure barrier and experience longevity.