Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Need Help. So I'm Asking.

I've taken care of a lot of kids in my day, some who just needed a little help and some who needed a lot. I've always told them not to be afraid to ask for help when they needed it. I told them that asking for help does not make you weak - that all of us go through times when we can't go it alone, and that others won't know you need the help unless you tell them.

It's time now for me to take my own advice. I need help.

Some of you who are reading this know me, some of you don't, and some of you know more than others about what's been happening in my family over the last few months. Suffice it to say that there have been many, many trials of late - some that I've written about here, and many that I haven't.

For those of you who don't know any of this, I will cover just the important points that are relevant to this post and to my reaching out for help.

My fifteen-year-old son (now sixteen) began to have health problems around last October. It started with tremors, which culminated in a seizure by November. This resulted in his first week-long hospitalization. He doesn't want me to publicly discuss his medical condition(s), but I can tell you that there were subsequent hospitalizations, ER visits, involvement with various specialists, etc. Between November of last year and March of this year, my son had a total of six emergency room visits (to the best of my recollection now), six ambulance rides, one four-day stay in ICU and four long-term (a week or more) hospitalizations. He came very close to death on one occasion, and is currently - in addition to everything else - being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, as he has flashbacks to that near-death experience. To him, falling asleep feels like dying, and he jolts awake at night screaming. I'm telling you all as much as I can here without disrespecting his wish that I not discuss certain things in detail with strangers.

Amid all of this, I lost my job in January.

By the beginning of April it appeared that my son's condition was getting under control. We had an accurate diagnosis, seemed to have finally lined up the correct concoction of medications (after many changes), and he was lined up to begin an intense form of treatment. His treatment would require various appointments almost every day of the week (and would leave me unable to work) for an undetermined period of time, but at least there was hope in sight. For that I was grateful, as was he, and his spirits began to lift.

And then, just when we thought the worst was behind us, he caught on fire. Yes, caught on fire. You can read about it here.

So... That brings me to this. He's home from the burn center now and I am taking care of him. However, there are not only the burns to contend with, but also the other treatment for the condition(s) he already had. To be quite blunt about it, his care has put us in a dire financial situation. We are facing disconnection of utilities by the end of this week, we're out of everything from laundry detergent to light bulbs, and the cost of gas for taking him to all of his appointments is killing me. That's aside from co-pays for doctor visits and, of course, there are things that insurance doesn't cover. When I found myself washing and re-using bandages for my son's arm, I knew I had to swallow my pride and reach out for help.

Please do not think this is easy for me. Just to write this post took me all night and resulted in a monumental headache from the tension of having to ask. I do not like having to ask. But, as I said before, I must take my own advice as I've given it many times before. I can't do this alone, and I'm not ashamed to admit I need help. Not ashamed, but definitely not happy about having to do it.

I'd love to tell you more about my wonderful son. But before I go any further, let me stop right here and provide the link where you can "Chip In" toward his care via PayPal: Just click here for the Chip-In page. Some may want to stop here while others may want to know more about this great kid. If you are one of the latter, read on...

What can I tell you about my son? I don't even know where to start. Let's go back to kindergarten... At my first parent-teacher conference, his kindergarten teacher sat me down and said, "I know this is going to sound strange, but I'm telling you Jeff is going to be famous one day. I don't know for what, but he will be famous. And I will have gotten to be his kindergarten teacher". He's a special kid. He's handsome, smart, witty, odd (in a good way - he just marches to the beat of his own drummer, as they say), and has an absolutely magnetic personality.

At five years old, Jeff started Cub Scouts and piano lessons. He is now almost an Eagle Scout (has one project to do) and plays the piano beautifully, as well as a little bit of guitar. He's been a soccer player, a high school football player, and a cheerleader in both junior high and high school. Even while on the edge of a collapse due to his condition, he took his high school cheer squad to the number one spot in the West Coast Nationals - and he immediately collapsed afterward and was taken to a hospital. But he managed to take care of his team first.

His personality has always drawn people of all ages to him. I cannot overstate this. When he was as young as seven years old, I would have people approach me in places like the mall and say, "Oh, are you Jeff's mom? How nice to meet you!" I'd ask Jeff who that was, and he'd say, "Oh, the librarian" or "Oh, that's the lady who works at the bakery at the grocery store." I'm telling you, everyone knew Jeff. I used to joke that I was going to change the name on my driver's license to "Jeff's Mom". LOL.

Here's an even better example: In 2004 we went to Disney World in Florida. When we visited Epcot Center, Jeff was all over it. He's fascinated by geography and world history (ask him about the French Revolution, what led up to it and what were the repercussions both in France and internationally. Ask him. I dare you.), so Epcot was Heaven for him. Well, at the end of the day as the park was closing... If you've ever been to a Disney them park or even any other major theme park, you'll now what I mean when I say that thousands of people are bottle-necking out the front entrance at closing time. Anyway, at Epcot there are these sort of balconies overhead as you exit and park employees from all over stand there and wave. As we were leaving, huddled within a crowd of probably 50,000 people or so, I began hearing, "Bye, Jeff! Goodbye, Jeff! Have a great trip, Jeffrey! It was so nice to meet you!" I looked up and - I kid you not - Epcot employees (or "cast members", to be accurate in Disney-ese) from all different areas of the park were leaning over those balconies and spotting Jeff in the crowd and waving to him. He grinned and waved back, and I looked at my daughter who rolled her eyes (being the big sister) and said, "Why am I not surprised?" That's Jeff for ya.

Being interested in world events and particularly politics, Jeff volunteered for the McCain / Palin campaign in the 2008 election a the age of 13. He was the youngest volunteer here in Phoenix, and every day after school he was downtown working those phones. Now, whether you agree with his political views or not (he is a staunch Republican), you've gotta give him credit for putting his time where his mouth is. Jeff is a hands-on guy. And I might add that Sarah Palin is practically a centerfold model to this kid, so every time she's been in Phoenix, he's been there. And not only there, but somehow he always manages to not only get his book signed or whatever autograph he's wanting, but also gets to wriggle his way in with "the fam" (I'm referring to the Palin family) and hang out with them, chat, whatever. Like I said, whether you agree with him politically or not, you've gotta give the kid kudos!

We have a DVR to record TV shows. Once my daughter was looking over the recorded shows and she asked me, "Why do we have all these news shows recorded?" I told her, "Well, those are all the times your brother has managed to be on the news." Again, being the older sister, she rolled her eyes. But also chuckled. Jeff will manage to make his way in front of a camera wherever one pops up, I swear.

In February of 2010 (I think it was 2010, but it may have been 2009), Jeff jumped into the icy water of the Colorado River to rescue a younger boy in an overturned canoe. He jumped in without a thought - boots and all - and pulled the young boy to safety. He also gave the kid his blanket, leaving himself to freeze in the winter cold. He justified this by saying that the smaller boy didn't have as much body fat and therefore needed the blanket more than he did.

Last summer he came across and injured woman in the Grand Canyon. He and a friend determined that she had a broken shoulder and also a broken rib. He knew how to address that issue, so he had her keep her left arm raised so as to not puncture a lung (I didn't know this!), and then he used a mirror to signal an "S.O.S." to a Tribal helicopter for help. Recognizing their return signal that they'd received his message, he assured the woman that help was on the way. He and his friend used their sleeping bags to make her a comfortable place to lie down. A few minutes later, a rescue helicopter arrived. Jeff, being the physically strongest one there, carried her to the helicopter and placed her inside.

A few months ago I was browsing Craigslist and a woman posted in the "General Community" section that she'd run out of gas. In her post she acknowledged that this was a long shot to ask for help this way and she expected to get criticized for it, but she stated her location and Jeff rode his bike four miles to bring her $10 for gas. She was overwhelmingly grateful and impressed with such a kind young man. Not something you expected from teenage boys nowadays, she said. She insisted on driving to our house to meet his mom (Moi) and tell me how nice he was. :)

Have I told you enough? His older sister jokingly refers to him as "Forrest Gump without the slow Southern speech" because this kid has been everywhere and done everything. Frankly, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if some of you reading this are saying to yourselves, "Hey, I know that kid!" Because it seems everyone knows Jeff. Anyhow, I am quite sure I'm leaving things out, but I'm equally sure that y'all don't want to sit here all night reading this. LOL. So, I will wrap up my bragging right about here. He's just an all-around great kid, and he's had a rough turn of events over the last few months.

Again, I'm asking for help with his care. Not because I want to, and not because I make a habit of such things, but because he deserves the care he needs and as a mom I would be remiss if I let my pride keep me from asking. He shouldn't have to be using recycled bandages.

Here is that link again: Chip-In For Jeff's Care. Also, you can visit my online booth, Rummage Rampage, and see if there isn't something there you can't live without. And if you can't help financially, which I totally understand, please do spread the word. You can refer people here to my blog, refer people to my booth, Tweet about my items if you're on Twitter, or whatever else you can think of. Any of these things would be greatly, greatly appreciated.

And just one more thing (I promise, just one more): If for any reason you would like verification of anything I've stated here, feel free to ask. I will be happy to provide whatever you need to feel comfortable that this is not any kind of scam. My e-mail address is salmagundigeneral@yahoo.com.

Thanks so much for reading. So much. Really. :)

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