Disability Grants To Help William Create New Life Despite Artificial Hips And Chronic Gout
by William Smith
(Randleman, North Carolina, USA)
My name is Bill Smith. I turned 59 Christmas day 2016. I have a younger sister and brother, three nephews, two nieces and five grand-nephews and -nieces.
Very Sick 3 Years, 300 lb Pre-Surgery, Bill Lost 65 lb And Can Walk Again
I've been divorced since 2011 and have no children due to miscarriages.
I was Athlete of the Year in high school and played basketball and golf in college.
I spent most of my life working in the telecommunications industry. I started pulling cable when I was 14.
Except for a couple of summer jobs at a textile plant and a Tree Service company, while in high school, telecomm was it.
I started my own company after college and made a decent living.
Today I live in a small, one-bedroom trailer next door to one of my closest friends. He is 73, has COPD and needs help with the yard and pasture among some other things which is why I am here.
I very much like the property and living here but the 50-year-old fire hazard that is the trailer makes me a little nervous. Plus, at 6'5", I bang my head into the occasional light fixture, but I do have a big head so...Disability Issues
The year I turned 28 was one of those years where your life changes drastically but you don't realize it until later.
My first acute attack of Gout hit that summer. I woke up and the pain in my big toe was unlike anything I had ever felt.
I was at a loss for what it could be. It was fine when I went to bed. The doctor took one look and said, "Gout."
It was also during that summer that, while playing softball, I slid into 2nd base with my knee locked and the base did not move due to the post that holds it in place.
Obviously injured I lay in the dirt trying to catch my breath. I did eventually get up and finish the game.
Over the next two weeks I noticed an ever-sharpening pain in my hip. X-rays revealed a compression fracture, and core decompression surgery was performed.
I was later informed that it had been a waste of time due to the time lapse between the injury and surgery. A hip replacement was needed.
Only 28, the doctors suggested I wait for a new titanium artificial hip to be approved that would last much longer. So I waited and limped. For seven years.
As the doctors predicted, during that seven year interval the other hip degenerated as well. It became impossible to work those last three years because of the pain.
Finally in December, 1991 and six weeks later in February, 1992 I had my first and second hip replacements. With all pain in my hips gone it was just a matter of months of rehab.
In June I played my first round of golf in six years. Those two hips still work today much to the Doc's amazement.
Gout however had now become an unpleasant reality striking several times a year. By the time I turned 40 it had done so much damage to my feet that it started looking for other areas to attack.
Knees, elbows, wrists and hands all take their hits. The forward halves of both feet are now numb.
Had I not been working for a company that my brother had a lot to do with and the fact that I was very good at my job, steady employment would not have been possible
In 2007, my brother suggested that I apply for Disability. I dismissed the idea because I was raised to work and take care of myself.
The company was sold and the new owners had no need for a "50 year old disabled person" as it was relayed to me. But some of our clients that would only trust their communications systems to me agreed to stay with me so I became an independent contractor.
The nature of technology, however, made it financially impossible for a single contractor to keep certifications current. I was forced to find other companies for my customers.
I finally applied for Disability online in August 2010 out of desperation and with no legal assistance. Turns out it was a no-brainer.
I had actually been eligible for years. I even got a few months SSI retroactively.
As it turned out my wife had become increasingly frustrated with my inability to pay the mortgage. The marriage ended before she realized that the Disability had come through.
At the time I felt pretty useless so I left and moved into an apartment.
In 2012 I got sick. I didn't realize I was sick but I lost all energy and began to gain weight despite not eating much. No appetite. My doctor had no answers.
By 2015 I had gained 85 pounds and felt truly awful 24/7.
Finally, after an ultrasound, emergency gallbladder surgery was performed and I spent five days in the hospital fighting off septic shock.
Now 18 months later I have lost 65 pounds and exercise has given me legs I can use again.
I have applied for countless jobs but today's economy plus my age and disabilities make it impossible for employment.Financial Hardship
Today I live on Disability and I hope, each month, the money lasts longer than the month. I am $13,000 in debt, mostly medical bills. I use heat sparingly in the winter because gas is not cheap.
An additional "debt" occurred when I borrowed against my life insurance policy a few years ago. The interest has put that total at $23,000. There is a way to pay that off but I would rather not take that step just now.
I have an all-paid-up 2004 F150 pickup with 200,000 miles on it. I also have a chainsaw and some of the basic tools to fell and buck trees for firewood.
I do most of the maintenance on the truck, learning how from YouTube videos. I can replace brake pads and rotors now! I also do chainsaw repairs! Never would have thunk it.
My gout medications cost $600 a month, but I am able to supplement that through a patient assistance program.
I am responsible for my friend's electricity bill and the costs associated with the upkeep of the property as a substitute for rent. Our combined electric bill averages about $250 a month.
Maintenance costs vary depending on the season.
A new energy efficient HVAC system would help greatly.Income Efforts
Beginning in 2009, I could see that it wouldn't be long before I couldn't afford to keep up with telecom much longer. I began the "work from home" online trip down the rabbit hole.
I became a HerbaLife dealer. I still owe $2500 on that credit card purchase.
I saw more scams than I care to think about. A couple cost me.
I even lost money in the Zeek Rewards ponzi scheme. Not nearly as much as those that introduced me but it hurt nonetheless.
Shortly after is when I became sick and my attempts to be productive dwindled.
I did apply for food stamps but because I am single with no children they said all I could get was $16 a month. I took it for a year but I didn't bother renewing. I imagine it cost the government more than that to have me in the system.
I am forever grateful for disability but I feel like I am just running out the clock now. I would rather produce until the final buzzer.
I have two calves that I am planning to breed in the spring, but any income from that is still 18 months away.
I am also cutting firewood to sell next fall. I'll clear trees when needed but no business has been generated thus far.
Lastly, I help fill in at a mattress clearance warehouse and sell a mattress here and there.Specific Needs
What I "need" is to be self-sufficient. but that may not be in the cards.
My immediate concerns are repairs to the truck, an HVAC system that doesn't break my budget and paying my medical bills.
Are there grants for those types of issues?
I also have the option of buying the three acres here. It has a house and two rental mobile homes and two and a half acres of pasture. Some income can be generated.
Are there housing grants? Low interest loans? Angels?Business Idea
I do have a business idea. I am clearing some trees from the pasture on a 22-acre beef cattle farm with 24 head of cattle.
The gentleman, the brother of my neighbor, that owns it is 84 and is looking to sell. It needs some upgrades and repairs to say the least.
My pie-in-the-sky wish would be to buy the farm, which on its own would generate approximately $30,000 a year as it stands now.
The cost of land, cattle and upgrades would be $275,000.
But I would like to supplement that with a tree service company creating a handful of jobs in the process. The start-up cost would be $40,000.
I have put together equipment lists and costs associated with the ideas above just in case. It's not because I have unreal expectations, but because I have enjoyed engaging my mind in the act of building something again.
I appreciate the efforts of the group that put up this web site and the guidance you offer.