LIMA — A slew of illnesses and physical problems have kept Rachel out of work for several years, making it difficult to support her 8-year-old grandson, who she is raising alone.
The sheer number of health problems Rachel is facing are staggering. Her ailments include fibromyalgia, diabetes, high blood pressure, gastroparesis, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. On top of the many diseases she is fighting, Rachel also needs surgery to repair her neck and back.
“It’s one thing after another,” Rachel said. “I get one health problem kind of situated, then here comes something else that flares up. It makes life hard.”
The chronic pain Rachel faces on a daily basis has made it nearly impossible to hold down a job. She said she would like to find employment, but companies are hesitant to hire someone who may not be able to work for long stretches of time.
“It might be a few days out of the week I can work, or it might be only one day a week,” she said. “But [employers] need the work, they need the production.”
To cover expenses, Rachel relies on child support payments that net just $65 every two weeks. To pay her medical bills, she uses a medical card she received from Ohio Job and Family Services. Rachel has applied for disability insurance, but she is still waiting to hear if she has been accepted.
With limited income, Rachel cannot afford to fix her car, meaning she has to rely on family and friends to drive her to and from medical appointments. She recently skipped a therapy session for her neck because she could not find anyone to take her to the appointment.
Rachel’s financial situation has also kept her from being able to afford a furnace to heat her home. She said her landlord promised to have one installed Nov. 1, but that has yet to happen. Before a furnace can be installed, her home needs a new ventilation system. She said there are no vents, meaning an entire exhaust system would need to be in place before she can properly heat her home.
Because the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, transportation and a properly ventilated home take precedence over everything else, Rachel has been unable to provide her grandson with the leisurely activities most children his age can enjoy.
“Child support covers basic needs, but fun activities like going bowling — we can’t even do that,” she said. “You have to make due with what you have, so we really can’t do much.”
Rachel said the holidays are especially difficult, as she cannot afford Christmas presents for her grandson.
“I just want to see a smile on his face, and to let him know that Santa ain’t forgot about him,” she said. “I want to see that light in his eyes again. Even if it’s just for one day.”
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima