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This fundraiser ended on 02/15/11

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Jay and his kids need your help as he battles back from a crippling spinal syndrome.

My name is Jay, I live in New York City and I am a 31 year old single father of 2 wonderful kids, Natalie is 8 and Zachary is 6. 1 year ago I had an occurrence of a condition called Cauda Equina Syndrome which has left me disabled and in constant, debilitating pain. I hope I can find a few people with the financial freedom to give me a hand up during one of the most difficult times of my life, which for those who know me has already been harder than most.

After returning from Iraq I entered a very difficult period in my personal life. I drank quite a lot, I got divorced and I gave up and/or lost everything I had worked for up to that point in my life, including my children. After hitting "rock bottom" for lack of a better term, and putting in a lot of hard work over a considerable amount of time I made what by any standard would be considered a very successful recovery. I got a job in my area of expertise, nearly caught up on all my financial obligations and was even beginning to save some cash. Things were really improving in every area of my life.

In January of 2010 my back began to hurt, which was not unusual as I broke my back in a boat accident in Sept of 1999. Several times a year I would aggravate my old injury and would have to take it easy for a while to nurse myself back to health. However this time it was different, instead of getting better like it usually did, it began to get worse. Finally on a Friday afternoon I had to leave work as I couldn't physically stand anymore due to the amount of pain I was in. I went home planning on spending the weekend flat on my back, so hopefully by Monday I would be able to go back to work and be productive. Little did I know that my entire life would change in just a few hours. I remember going to bed early that night because I was so uncomfortable and hadn't been sleeping well. At about 3 am I awoke with an extremely urgent need to urinate and I remember it took a lot of work to get up and out of bed. By that time the pain was so great that I had to hold onto the wall in the hallway to make it to the bathroom, and the urge to pee was so intense that I was afraid that I wasn't going to make it there in time. When I finally did make it to the toilet, I found that I could not pee no matter how hard I tried. At this point I knew something was very wrong and I began to make my way back to my bedroom to get my phone so I could call my mother (the nurse) for advice. It hurt so bad that I was in tears and had considered crawling but I couldn't bend down to get on all fours. As I reached my bedroom door my legs gave out, I collapsed and lost control of by bladder and bowels. I could not feel or move my left leg and my right leg was mostly numb and barely mobile. I was literally yelling/screaming from the pain as I drug myself across my bedroom floor to the place my cell phone was plugged in, a process that took me at least 20 minutes to move only 8-10 feet. Something was obviously seriously wrong, so as soon as I reached my phone I called 911, I heard the operator dispatch an ambulance and shortly after that I heard her also call for a paramedic, which I assume was a result of my wailing. The fire department arrived within about 15 minutes and had to break my door to get in, they spent about 20 mins in my room with me trying to get my pain under control by giving me fentanyl and morphine and slowly loading me onto a backboard for the trip to the hospital.

I don't remember much after getting to the emergency room, because of the level of pain I was in they put me into a nearly unconscious state. They woke me up for a while so the neurosurgeon could explain what was wrong and that they were going to have to do emergency surgery. The next thing I knew it was Saturday afternoon and I was in my hospital room, post-op. My brother was my emergency contact and he had driven over from Seattle as soon as he heard what was going on. By the time I was out of surgery (or at least as soon as I can remember after surgery) he was there.

I was in the hospital for several more days after surgery, I think it was four days, but I don't actually remember due to the drugs. After being released my ex in-laws actually took me in for several days and took great care of me. About a week after this all began my mom came over from Seattle and I stayed in a local hotel with her as my bedroom was on the second floor of my home and stairs were out of the question. A little over two weeks after it all began I returned home to my couch where I stayed for another 2 weeks or so.

Shortly after returning home reality began to set in. I was unable to work and because I worked for a small family owned company I did not have any health insurance. By that point I was at least $60,000 dollars deep in medical bills, probably closer to the $80,000 mark and I hadn't even begun any aftercare, which included at least 3 doctors appointments a week or physical therapy.

A month after surgery my company called me to tell me they could lay me off if I wanted, so that I could collect unemployment benefits. That job had taken me over a year to find and I was so terrified of losing it that I lied to my doctor and to my boss so that they would allow me to return to work. For my first three weeks back at work I had to use a walker to get around, and after that I had to use a cane for quite some time. Getting out of the car was a process that literally brought me to tears every time for the first 6 weeks. It goes without saying, I wasn't the most productive employee at my company and due to other circumstances in my life I decided it was time for a change. First of all I needed time to recover, and I wasn't going to get that at my current job. I had also begun a new relationship with my current girlfriend and I wanted to be at least a little bit closer to her. I made a tentative agreement with a company that was based here on the east coast to begin work at the end of the Summer, this would give me the time I needed to recover physically and I would be able to take a job that would accommodate my physical condition and it offered medical insurance, which was something I lacked.

Skipping ahead to the present time, it has been a year since the occurrence of my Cauda Equina Syndrome and my surgery, although it was performed promptly after the onset of symptoms was not successful. I was diagnosed in October as a partial paraplegic and told that I would not be able to return to my previous occupation, or anything that requires any amount of physical labor. My left leg is mostly numb, and the parts that aren't numb are plagued by constant nerve pain. In my buttocks and the backs of my legs I get frequent and intensely painful "shocks" as I call them. It feels like I'm being tazered and often the sensation causes me so much pain I have to sit or lie down immediately, or risk collapsing. I can only walk short distances before I have to stop to sit or lie down as well, and I can't stoop or bend down to pick anything up off the ground without risking back and leg pain so intense I can only describe it as being like a toothache that effects the entire lower half of my body.

As of today I think my medical debt is around $150,000 dollars, I am on Medicaid now or that number would be growing exponentially on a monthly basis. I have had to sell literally everything of value, including my car and I have no way to replace any of these things in my current financial state. I have applied for Social Security Disability and been denied once, I am currently in the process of applying a second time and am anxiously waiting for an answer. My monthly income is exactly $200 total, and that is in the form of food stamps. I have made a few thousand dollars through odd jobs and a very small insurance settlement, but other than that I have had no income in 10 months. If it wasn't for my extremely generous and gracious girlfriend I would be homeless and destitute. My situation is desperate and I am so far behind on my bills that everything except my cell phone has lapsed and been canceled or shut off, my checking account was overdrawn so long that it was closed by my bank. My brother and I have a family plan with T-Mobile and he has been picking up the tab for my cell phone bill for far too long now. Additionally, if I was required to pay half the rent, which in ideal circumstances I would be doing I would owe about $4500 in back rent as well, which is something I desperately need to contribute to. I am also about 6-7 months behind on child support and I am on the verge of being in legal trouble because of it. They can suspend my drivers license, my passport and even put me in jail if I get too much further behind. The fact that I have nothing to contribute to my kids lives financially at this point is killing me.

So as I'm sure you can imagine after reading my story, the level of stress I'm experiencing coupled with my new disability and the amount of pain I'm in is mentally and emotionally crippling. I have tried every way I know how to make money from home, but I just don't have the education or experience required to be successful at it. I am planning on returning to college as soon as possible so I can start on a new career path that I can be successful at with my physical limitations. However, before I can entertain that as a possibility I have got to get my current situation under control.

So if you are so moved, and have the financial freedom to give me a HAND UP, as I begin the long, long road back to a semi-normal existence, please consider it. I hate asking for money, I hate having to be so transparent about my failures and shortcomings and I hate having to admit the fact that I cannot do what it takes to rectify my own problems currently. But I have no choice at this point.

Please, I genuinely and desperately need your help!
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