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This fundraiser ended on 10/16/12

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The money raised through this fundraising attempt will be used to offset some of Mary Ellen's current and future health care costs.

I married the love of my life on October 29, 2005. As it so happened, that was also my 50th birthday. Seven months after we were wed, Mary Ellen suffered a heart attack. One of the treatments prescribed by the team of cardiologists was to implant a defibrillator/pacemaker into her. I'd have to say that device has probably saved her life. Though it has come attached with some expense. For one thing it has to be replaced every five to eight years. That procedure was actually completed in February of 2012. Just the hospital bill alone was more than $10,000. We have applied for hardship forgiveness on that bill and that is currently pending. I can only hope our request is granted. The reason for the hardship request is that we are both disabled. Our combined income from Social Security is $1820.90 per month. By the time our mortgage, car payment, grocery expense and the ever increasing credit card payments are deducted, there isn't much left. As a result of Mary Ellen's heart attack, it was discovered that she is diabetic. Thus, the reason for me starting this fundraising request on For nearly six years after she was diagnosed with Diabetes, Mary Ellen was able to keep the Diabetes condition fairly well in check. We made some adjustments to her diet and she began an exercise program which includes a home Zumba video workout. A friend of hers that happens to be a certified personal trainer volunteers her time to come to our home a couple of times a week for a workout session with Mary Ellen. My wife drinks very little alcohol. Her yearly consumption is but a few glasses of wine and one Margarita on her birthday. She has never lit up a cigarette nor has she ever even tried any recreational drugs. Yet despite all of this, her diabetes has recently taken a turn for the worse. An additional medication was prescribed and her intake of insulin has quadrupled. On top of that, she has had three doctor appointments with specialty doctors in the last few weeks. Plus there are at least two more coming in the coming weeks. That is on top of her appointments with her general practitioner that occur pretty much on a monthly basis. Now because of the increased costs of medications, she is rapidly approaching her prescription coverage gap. The dreaded "Doughnut". Last year this hit us in September. The out of pocket expenses just for her prescribed medications were in excess of $600 each month for the rest of the year. Much of that had to be charged to our credit cards. Though those cards are pretty much maxed out. Two weeks ago we picked up a forty day supply of insulin. Our out of pocket expense was $124.00. Without Mary Ellen's prescription insurance, the cost would have been $740.00. Then on top of that, she also has to take thirteen other medicines. Just the out of pocket expenses on those meds totals nearly $250 a month. I shudder to think what the costs will be once the "Doughnut" is achieved.

Besides the heart issues and her Diabetes, Mary Ellen also has one of the Muscular Dystrophies, Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy. I also live with Muscular Dystrophy My disease is called Charcot-Marie-Tooth. That condition caused me to go on Disability. We are both proud people and try the best we can to live within our means. But lets face it, Social Security payments are actually less than what people receive that work a full time job making minimum wage. Then subtract the costs of monthly medications, doctor visits (General and Specialist) from our monthly allotment and making it from one payday to another is challenging under normal circumstances. Though with the rapidly approaching coverage gap in Mary Ellen's prescription insurance, our financial future is grim at best. Not to mention Mary Ellen's health care.

We have applied for help from both the Federal and the State. We are repeatedly turned down. The reason...we are just too well off. Medical expenses and needs count very little toward the granting of assistance from our government. Bureaucratic red tape at its best. In fact, based on our incomes, if we weren't legally married, we could both receive food stamps, medical expense assistance and other forms of help. The two of us even considered divorcing for the sole purpose of receiving assistance on her medical expenses. Yet we just couldn't go through with it. Our love for each other wouldn't allow such a move. So as it stands now, illegal aliens receive more assistance from our government that my wife and I.

Another measure I have taken because of the impending situation, is to attempt to return to work. In truth, I'd much rather be employed than to be on disability. That despite the unimaginable daily pain of working and having Muscular Dystrophy. My plan is to work part time. That way I can still receive the Social Security payment. That is as long as my monthly paycheck is less than $1010.00. Hopefully working only part time will not be too hard on my body. The trouble is, there just aren't too many employers looking to hire a 56 year old man with Muscular Dystrophy who has been out of the job market for nearly fourteen years. To assist with my returning to work, I have contacted the Social Rehabilitation Office of the state of Arizona. The next step is to go to an orientation which is schedule for mid July (Four weeks from this posting). After that, who knows what will be expected of me before I can begin just hunting for a job. Even if this fundraising effort is successful, I still plan on returning to work. I know there will be additional pain in my life once that happens. But the pain of losing my wife would be far greater than any physical discomfort. I love her and what's more, she loves me.

By the way...When some people hear that Mary Ellen and I have Muscular Dystrophy, they will sometimes believe that the Muscular Dystrophy Association will lend us a hand. That, however, is not the case. The MDA doesn't have enough money to help us. That despite raking in fifty to seventy million dollars every year with their Muscular Dystrophy Labor Day Telethon. It matters not that Mary Ellen's heart condition is a direct result of her Muscular Dystrophy.

I know you care about people. Other wise you wouldn't have bothered to read my request. Perhaps you can find it in your heart to lend us a hand. Any help you provide will be greatly appreciated. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Charlie Renne
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