On May 9th, I told you about my day at UNC. I had decided to use my crutches to walk from the parking deck to my appointment rather than using my wheelchair, even though it took me an hour longer to walk that distance than it would have taken me to roll the same. By using my crutches, I was forced to “take in the scenery” since I walk so slowly that sometimes ants literally run faster than I can walk…which is pathetically sad, but entirely true. I met lots of people during my UNC visit and there was a health fair of sorts with various vendors displaying their information and services at tables lining the Children’s Hospital hallway.
I stopped at one of the tables – O2 Fitness. I recognized the name and remembered I’d stopped by an O2 Fitness Club in 2010 to check out their facility and prices. In 2010, as now, I was unable to afford their membership fees and I did not join. Jason Peters, general manager of an O2 Fitness Club in Chapel Hill, greeted me at his table.
I had faith to believe that God was going to provide the means for me to manage this CRPS disease responsibly, and as my hopes for home therapy and help fell through, I came to the place where I trusted God to move in some other way. He revealed to me that He wanted to work again in my life by increasing my self control and helping me with time management. I had written out a new schedule and begun adhering to it, saving two 3-hour blocks of time daily for exercise and/or cooking, and doctor-related activities. But as of yet, my means of exercise were limited to what I could accomplish at home with nearly no equipment/tools.
If God was going to give me the grace I needed to make these lifestyle changes including daily exercise, I decided I was going to put Faith Into Action and do my responsible part to contact people and get more information about resources in my area. I prayed for favor with whomever I spoke or contacted. I knew I needed a miracle, God’s specific provision for my needs.
Up to this point, I’d spent hours calling, emailing, and writing to several hospitals, wellness centers, and fitness clubs trying to get financial assistance so that I could afford to use the facilities, especially a warm water therapy pool. I had two social workers, one therapist, and myself working on getting me into a place where I could exercise that was within my budget. I knew I’d still have to give up something to pay for the membership no matter where I went; I’d probably have to stop taking a few medications and even eat less to afford a membership, as I’ve already cut every other non-essential item from my basic budget. Here’s what I wrote and was sending to the hospitals and wellness centers which had no financial assistance or scholarship programs that I could locate. I wrote it like I would have written an essay when applying for a college scholarship.
Why Am I Asking For Financial Assistance?
Hi, my name is Sarah (with an “h”), and friends know me for my smile which endures, by God’s grace, despite hardship. I am 29 and I have severe disabilities which include Complex Regional Pain Syndrome / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (CRPS/RSD), Gluten Ataxia, Osteoporosis with a history of more than 25 previous fractures, Chronic Back Pain, Celiac Disease, Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, Fibromyalgia, and Arthritis. I use a wheelchair as my primary “mode of transportation”.
I carefully manage all aspects of my healthcare every day. I have approximately 14 specialist doctors and I am on a special diet that allows me to eat only 20 foods; I must cook all meals from scratch in my hypoallergenic kitchen. Every day is a fight to not only get out of bed, but to take care of my self-care needs so that I can maintain the health I have and prevent these diseases from getting worse, yet I trust God for the strength and courage to do this daily.
In 2010 I had to give up my dream job as an occupational therapy assistant and CAP worker due to poor health. While I am now supported in part by Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), I have still continued to work part-time since May of 2010 from my handicap-accessible home office for AAA. I was raised to work hard, and I’m proud to say I have chosen to work hard rather than collect SSI, to which I would otherwise be “entitled”. In fact, I would receive more money per month if I did accept SSI instead of working. I don’t believe an “entitlement mentality” is appropriate, however, so I do everything I can to live responsibly using the gifts and abilities God has given me, and He has provided my basic needs time and time again.
My doctors have prescribed (see Rx, attached) daily exercise to prevent the spread of CRPS, maintain bone density to help prevent future fractures, increase blood flow and circulation to decrease nerve pain, promote intestinal motility to decrease SIBO, and increase my overall energy level and physical conditioning. Remaining sedentary with a diagnosis of CRPS/RSD may allow the disease to spread to other areas of the body, increasing disability. Therefore, I’m very motivated to keep moving to maintain my abilities. Physical Therapy in the warm therapy pool was very helpful to me a few months ago, but Medicare will cover no more visits for this year, and I was told I must pay out of pocket to use therapy and gym facilities if I wish to continue. I am currently unable to afford this expense, unable to cut my budgeted monthly expenses down any more, and unable to work any more hours at my job to increase my income.
Unfortunately, as you can see detailed on the next page, my monthly income does not cover the additional medical expenses, specialized shoes and clothing, vehicle repairs and handicap vehicle modifications, wheelchair parts and repairs, nor the medical treatments I am trying to access which are not covered by Medicare or Medicaid. My special diet is an additional, but necessary expense.
I am doing my part to help myself, help my neighbors in my community and other who have chronic illnesses, and burdening taxpayers as little as possible by working my job and caring for my health despite immense challenges. I just want to ask you to consider sponsoring me by providing financial assistance so I can exercise with equipment and facilities needed to promote my future wellness and continue to live responsibly.
Thank you for your sincere consideration and time.
So while I didn’t have a copy of my financial documents, proof of income, budget, and this “essay” with me when I met Mr. Peters, I did explain why it was important to me to exercise and I told him that I was using my crutches that day to get more exercise. He was doing a raffle for a free three month O2 Fitness Club membership, so I signed up and he stuffed my ticket in the box. I thought he said he felt I was likely to win, and I told him I hoped so – I was so excited to give it a try.
I made plans to visit O2 Fitness a few days later, when I had a break in my schedule from my doctors’ appointments, but I got a few phone calls the next 2-3 days asking me when I wanted to come in to O2 Fitness near my home (since I don’t live in Chapel Hill). I said I’d come in on the 14th. I thought to myself, “Wow, these folks are doing a great job with their marketing; calling people to get them in after they saw them at the health fair!” So I went in on Tuesday and a colorfully-dressed woman (not unlike myself in that regard; I love wearing my “happy colors”) with a nice smile met me as I came through the front door of the gym; she said her name was Denise, same as my aunt’s name. “Hey, you must be Sarah,” she said. Guess it’s hard to miss the bald chick with the wheelchair/bright pink crutches. LOL. She mentioned that I’d won a free three month membership, and I was like “uhhhh…I did?!” 😀 I didn’t realize Mr. Peters had actually said I won! I thought he was just saying he felt I had a good chance of winning! I clapped with happiness!! I was still in shock, however, happy shock, but shock nonetheless. I did my little happy dance as I thanked the Lord for His answer to my prayers.
Demi and Nick, personal trainers, took me through an evaluation so that Demi could set up an exercise plan for me. When he saw my list of diagnoses, I think he was understandably a tad overwhelmed, though still positive we could make it work. I thought to myself, “Once he googles CRPS/RSD, he’s not gonna wanna go near me with a 39 and a half foot pole!” 😀 I told the my goal is to make lifelong changes and to incorporate exercise into my daily life while still adhering to my all-natural, non-processed diet (the Specific Carbohydrate Diet) to manage my GI diseases. After the evaluation, I stayed to work out, then went home.
I was so happy I could bust! I got into my car and clapped my hands in praise and excitement – I mean, I really went to town. “THANK YOU, LORD for Your provision!” I said with a huge smile. I was just blown away that I’d received a free membership from these kind people at O2 Fitness; a direct confirmation from God that He would again give me the grace to work exercise into my schedule and lifestyle.
I remember an old preacher saying “Where His finger points, His hand provides.” It’s true. His finger was pointing, and I stepped out in faith again and again. At the perfect time, His hand provided.
When I went back into the gym today to see Demi, he had put together some exercises for me, mostly working on arm and core strengthening and balance. With his help, I tried out a few leg exercises on machines and decided what to give a go and what to skip. It was great getting to move and really work my muscles. I love how close O2 Fitness is to my home; it’s only about 2 miles away! So while there is no pool for me to use there, I’m grateful it’s so close because it really gives me NO EXCUSE to get out and exercise each day.
Besides, being the social butterfly I am, it’s just great to get to be around people. I can’t ride a recumbent bike without at least saying hi to the person pedaling next to me. This older gentleman was whipping my butt today, pedaling at least 4 times faster than I was. I asked him how he was and we started off on a conversation. He’d lost a lot of weight through lifestyle changes and exercise in the last year and a half, and he was recently remarried after being widowed for a year or so; he met his new wife in church. I got to tell him that God’s grace has sustained me through the last few years and I am grateful.
I am so happy that O2 Fitness Club has opened their doors to me and I hope to have many opportunities not only to exercise my body, but to exercise my spirit as I share the good hope I have in Christ with those at the gym. There may just be someone there one of these days who needs my smile.
Where His finger points, His hand provides. Sometimes He points before He provides, and He calls us to step out in faith. I did so by not pursuing the CCME appeal process and hearing though I didn’t know how God would provide otherwise, then by implementing my new schedule, contacting many health clubs and wellness centers, putting together my “essay” and financial information (which took a few hours), then by walking instead of rolling at UNC hospital that Wednesday and trusting God to help me walk all the way to my appointment and back, which lead me to meet Mr. Peters from O2 Fitness, then in faith going to O2 Fitness though I didn’t know I’d won the three months free but was willing to see how God may work on my behalf, and here we are. 🙂
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. – Hebrews 11:6