Adam was born in September 2002 after a very typical and active pregnancy. Adam had his first ambulance ride at an hour old and his first surgery within twenty-four hours. Adam was born with a form of Spina Bifida, called myelomeningocele, a birth defect in which a lump of fat from under the skin extends through the spinal column and attaches to the spinal cord, tethering the cord to overlying skin resulting in neurological deficiencies. In Adam’s case, his lower extremities were greatly affected causing him to have difficulty walking and a need for braces to help improve his gait pattern and endurance. In addition his Spina Bifida caused some of his organs to become paralyzed, which impacts his daily life.
Today Adam is 11 years old and as a family, we have endured through 17 surgeries, countless tests, procedures and medical appointments.
Our lives changed quickly as I was no longer able to work –Adam had six surgeries the first year alone and we operated in crisis mode for the first three years. Our income was cut by half and our expenses went up. If we needed to pay for parking or co-pays or hospital meals or special formula, it went on a credit card. If we couldn’t afford our mortgage payment that month, we used our equity line. We had accumulated thousands of dollars in medical debt. And yet never qualified for financial assistance because of our income. This is not a sustainable way of life.
This is where the guilt and embarrassment come in to the picture – yes, our kids know what the inside of a Jimmy John’s looks like and we order pizza a few times a month. We don’t however live extravagantly, we don’t go out much and we don’t take family vacations.
At first glance, our need may not seem evident. But we have never qualified for any assistance because we “made too much”.
Debt fatigue had set in and it has been difficult to stay motivated to get out of this financial situation. Real life happens every day – basements flood, furnaces go out and transmissions break down. The Cameron Can Grant will make a huge difference in our life and especially in Adam’s life. We became very aware this summer that the decisions we make for Adam are often times based on our debt. By humbling ourselves and making life experiences an option, we applied for a camp scholarship and sent Adam to Camp Independence. We look forward to the day where we are able to give him opportunities and life experiences based on interests or talents and not immediately dismiss the idea based on our medical bills and related debts.