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This fundraiser ended on 02/14/13

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All money raised will go towards L4-L5-S1 fusion surgery & related medical expenses. Please see Description & Updates for more info.

My name is Jon Graham and I’m asking for help to cover the costs for the procedures that have led up to this moment and my surgery and care after my fusion back surgery on December 17, 2012.

I live in Rockford, Illinois with Kim, my wife and Kaitlyn and Carter (12 and 8 years old respectively).

I have had lower back issues as far back as 2002, but the worst started in June of 2009.  The pain was constant, 24/7 no matter what I was doing.  This was keeping me awake all night long 5-6 nights a week (I only slept the 7th night because my body couldn't stay awake any longer).  After a full month of this I went to my doctor and the tests began.  The first MRI showed I had disc degeneration at L4-L5-S1 and herniation’s at both discs as well, causing my back pain and the pain in my legs.  However, surgery wasn't an option until everything else was tried.  After a year of physical therapy, spinal injections, chiropractic care, exercises and a few other things I've forgotten about it was decided that I would start taking pain killers.  This worked for about a year, but then the side effects became so bad that at first I thought I had walking pneumonia, a chest cold or some other sever issue.  One of the worst episodes was when my family visited Disneyland and I spent 3 of the 5 days either in the room we had or sucked it up and went to a park, only to stay all day in the parks first aid buildings.  When I got back I went to immediate care on a Sunday and they tested me for EVERYTHING...and I do mean everything (all negative).  After that, my doctor saw me and decided it was side effects, so Fentanyl (which was the third drug I had been on) gave way to Morphine.  Morphine worked for a while, and then just began to not work.

By this time I started to look towards surgery.  Two surgeons in Rockford told me I was not a candidate for surgery (which I couldn't understand, because in early 2010 one told me I was a good candidate, but wanted me to try all of this other stuff first, and no he's saying I'm not).  My doctor kept insisting I go to Rush University Hospital, which I did and was told I was an excellent candidate for disc replacement surgery.  However, CIGNA would not pay a penny for this surgery.  I needed 45 to 60k out of pocket when it was all said and done.  This same doctor told me that Rush would just write it off, "they do it all the time", "it's a teaching hospital", "you need to have something done write away because if you get into a simple car accident you'll be paralyzed from the waist down".  (All of which wasn't true, but sure put the fear of God into my wife and me.

Out of pure desperation one night I researched fundraiser methods and websites and started this fundraiser.

After about 5 months I received 3 donations, so I ruled out Rush as a possibility and began looking around for other in-network surgeons in Rockford again (because if something was going to be, it needed to be done in 2012 since my out of pocket max was once again met plus all of our FSA money we put aside).  I found a surgeon, and starting in early November I have had a spinal stimulator trial surgery which did not work and put me out for about 3 weeks.  1 week ago I had a Discogram (Discography) which confirmed the pain was coming from both discs and that brings us to where we are today.  The amazing thing about the Discogram is that it took me back to the very first time I had this pain (which I had actually forgotten about).  It was just as I remembered it -- the worst pain I've ever felt in my life, only this was worse because he did it again on the second disc.  So we definitely have the proof.

So this brings me to fusion surgery, taking place on December 17th…in 6 days.

I'm still asking for help because in 2008 my family spent about $4,000 in health care costs, and for each year from 2009 through this year, 2012 - we've spent close to 10,000 a year.  I don't know what the costs of 2013 will be, but our savings is gone and our credit is growing rapidly.  So we are humbly asking for help.  Help to bring back some of our savings; help to bring back from stability after this is all said and done; Hope.

This fundraiser is no longer about whether or not the surgery will happen, but how we will ever catch up; or even get close to catching up.

Thank you for reading this and thank you for any help you can provide.  Prayers, donations, passing the link on to anyone you know so they can pass it on.  Lots can happen when the word gets out.

Thank you and have a Merry Christmas!  I should be home for it. :)

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