Asking for Help Can Be More Difficult than the Pain Itself

After going through two long bouts with severe injuries resulting in long-term pain, I realize I’m still uncomfortable asking for help.  Only when I began opening up to friends and colleagues over the past year did people begin offering to bring me food or help with my daughter and I honestly didn’t know how to respond.  Finally I finally started allowing friends to bring me food now and then, and to help me with my daughter.  But every day life is still a real challenge for us, so I think I’ve identified at least one easy way friends can help – even from a distance.

We have known friends who have gone through short periods of time where they have been hospitalized and requested assistance from other friends through non-profit websites like CaringBridge associated with the hospitals or related organizations, but given that I never had to stay in the hospital for my treatments, I felt somehow like I couldn’t ask for that kind of help. Now I realize I could start one of those, but I already have the blog here.

I’ve deliberated a long time whether to ask others for donations or other favors to help us bear the burden of my medical expenses and extra childcare over the past four years.  I kept hoping I wouldn’t need to ask people for help.  But now we’re faced with losing our house over the next few months, so I had to reconsider.

Essentially if I can’t come up with enough work and cut our expenses (or soften them in combination with work) over the next two months, then we have to sell our home that we worked so hard to buy.  And leave the wonderful neighborhood that our daughter loves.  It will take us years to get back into a comparable house given the market and our dwindling assets.  Meanwhile, I’m losing time with my daughter as she nears the end of her precious first five years. It’s a tough spot.

I finally have a team of excellent doctors, a trusted physical therapist and a pair of fabulous caregivers that have been a huge help to us, so I don’t think I need help finding those any more, but unfortunately due to our family’s special needs, these costs over the four year period have been excessive – beyond $150,000.

I thought perhaps I could try a social media based fund raising application and see if that might be something that could be unobtrusive but yet for friends who really do want to find a way to help us out in our time of need, it would be a way for them to feel useful.

I setup a ChipIn page for a while, but I felt weird about telling people about it.  (WordPress wouldn’t let me install a widget on the blog unfortunately or I would’ve done one of those “like my blog? pitch in $5 here” type things.)  I thought the easy way to start would be to request gifts of any amount of money to help pay only for medical expenses that are not covered by insurance but that are essential to my recovery – physical therapy, medications, special testing, and new treatments.

I realize it’s normal for bloggers to ask for contributions on their blogs for whatever reason – it’s become quite commonplace – but in the past, I’ve been one who loves to give through events, financial contributions, donations of goods, etc. so the idea of asking for help is still really hard for me. But I know that when my dad was suffering with polio, his community helped him out through that difficult time, and they were glad to do it. So while I didn’t let everyone I knew in on what I was doing, I thought it was worth a try.

While the experiment was short-lived for many reasons, it was worth trying and a few good friends did contribute to my medical costs, for which I will be eternally grateful. Whether I setup another ChipIn page later is yet to be determined. I live in such an expensive area, I mostly feel lucky I can be here at all. I know so many people who are worse off in so many ways.

For now, I will lay out a few easy ways to help me for local friends:

  • meals – we’ve got dietary restrictions, but it’s workable
  • assisted playdates – for those of you who are local and have kids my daughter’s age
  • visits – just come see me, take my mind off the pain

For all friends:

  • work leads – senior editing, writing (all publications) and social media that’s flexible and would comply with ADA adaptations and/or let me work from home

I hope people will understand that by asking, this is my response to those who continue inquiring about how I’m feeling and what you can do.

The good news is I am getting gradually better; it’s just a slow process. Had we known we would be enduring this for over four years, we never would have bought our house in the first place, but there’s no way to predict this kind of thing. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel – once my daughter is old enough to go to school all day – just two years away. But we have to figure out how to make it that far living in a place where housing is really costly.

I don’t mind asking questions about the situation. It feels weird to share it so openly, but I’ve done a lot of things as a result of these injuries that I never thought I would do to help my family and to help maintain my sanity. Sometimes sharing is necessary. And I do want my friends to understand what I’m really going through, because it hasn’t been easy to keep in touch with everyone.

Thank you for even taking the time to read this.  It was very difficult for me to write.


4 responses to “Asking for Help Can Be More Difficult than the Pain Itself

  1. I know how hard it is to ask for help- yet remind myself often of how quickly I am willing to offer it.

    I just received a diagnosis of systemic lupus on top of multiple sclerosis and we have to downsize our home and bills.

    I reached out to our church family and friends, despite how much I didn’t want to and have been overwhelmed by the support, assistance and energy people are willing to pour into my life. God never fails to give us what we need for any situation we are in.

    Praying for you! and kudos for your bravery in writing a difficult post- I really do understand how hard it is.

  2. Oh that must have been a hard post to write. I’m so glad you did. I think many people don’t know the reality of others lives unless we put it out there like that.

    I too, am paying about $1000 a month on doctors, meds, supplements, physical therapy. My insurance doesn’t cover much. We go into debt. It sucks to be in debt for your health.

    I don’t want you to lose your house, Sarah. That shouldn’t happen in this country. What an outrage!

  3. Pingback: All I Want for Christmas is a Pain-Free Life « Pain In The Mom

  4. Sarah,

    I had no idea you had chronic pain. I have fibromyalgia and have been sidelined with it for years. Chronic invisible pain and illness sucks. Hang in there!

    Emily Drennen

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