I only had three weeks to prepare for my surgery. There was a lot to do. I was renting a room across town from my parents house at the time. My mom insisted that I move home so she could look after me during my recovery. So the following weekend I helped her clear out my old room. Then I boxed up everything that I did not immediately need, called a few friends, and moved everything I had back home. After I had gotten settled in I sat quietly for awhile on my bed. It had been an emotionally draining week. I thought about all of the things I still needed to do, still so much to do…
I wanted to get in the best shape possible so that my recovery went well. Dr. B said I shouldn’t lift weights anymore because there was already too much pressure in my head. So I decided to keep doing my martial arts training, but just taking it easy, no sparing, etc. I also got back into swimming more. I had access to a swim center that I worked at. So I decided to swim 5 days a week, upping the distance I swam every day. Every time I felt like giving up I just thought about how much harder my recovery would be. That thought kept me so motivated.
Seeing how I was uninsured at the time, I had to find a way to pay for all of this. It’s crazy to think that I live in the most powerful nation in the world, yet healthcare is something that I, and every other citizen, needs to worry so much about. My mom and I took a day off of work to apply to county services. We spent the better part of a day going into different offices, waiting in line, filling out the paperwork, sitting down to wait some more…only to be called up and told I do not “qualify”. Then they would say I might qualify for another service, and give me more paperwork and send me to another office. It was a very frustrating day, being denied again and again and again. We went home and my mom took a nap on the couch, she was exhausted. I was undeterred though, and got on my computer to do more research. All of a sudden I got a call from Stanford. The lady on the other line said I qualified under their assistance program and would receive a discount on services. I thought to myself, “Ok, that’s great. A discount is usually what? 10-20% off”. So I asked her how much the discount was. “You qualify for an 80% discount” she said. “Huh?? Come again”, I said. “80%”, she said. I was floored!! I was so excited I couldn’t contain myself!! I informed my parents and my sisters as soon as I could. Everyone was super happy for me. Looks like I won’t be in debt for the rest of my life after all.
Even with a sizable discount, the surgery was still going to be expensive. To help pay the hospital bills some of my family and friends organized several fundraisers. In the coming weeks, both pre and post-op, we actually held a total of 6; and raised about half of my quoted hospital expenses. I still needed to show up on the day of surgery with the 20% that I owed though. So we had to get a personal loan…again, I am really shaking my head at the US healthcare system.
I was pretty fortunate that my sister Lauren knew a lawyer who was willing to draw me up an advanced care directive and will for free. That really helped as I could not afford it on my own. I wasn’t really thinking I needed either of them, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. I also had to put so many things on hold, including; school, work, training…everything that I wanted to do sort of took a backseat to this thing in my head. I really don’t know how I held it together except that I had a wonderful support system, kept a positive attitude, and exercised as much as possible.
Another incredible thing happened during this time, people came out of the woodworks to help me in my time of need. And I mean A LOT of people. Family, friends, friends of family, friends of friends…even complete strangers. I really was in awe of all of these people coming together to help someone in need. It was especially amazing because you always hear about so many bad things in the news. Having something positive happen, something so close and personal to me, quite honestly restored my faith in people.