CRIDERSVILLE — Ever hear of Brugada syndrome with long QT?
Neither did Jennifer, until her 12-year-old son Jake was diagnosed with it last month.
They’re rare congenital diseases that cause strange rhythms in the hearts of young people. They can lead to sudden cardiac death.
“As of right now, there’s no school, no stress, no anything,” said Jennifer, glancing over at her son. They were sitting with 21-year-old daughter Jessica in the neat, attractive living room of the family’s home just south of Westminster. Jake thrust his legs down the sofa he was sitting on until he was lying on his back, staring at the ceiling.
“I wanna go snowboarding!” he said, frowning.
Jake’s diagnosis provides the answer to the question of why he’d been suffering for the last four years with fainting spells, shortness of breath and chest pain. But it, in turn, creates more questions, like: how’s he going to get his education? How are they going to pay for the gas to get back and forth to doctors’ appointments? And what, if anything, can Jennifer and her husband Joe do to make Christmas merry for their frustrated snowboarder?
It’s why they’ve reached out for help from The Lima News’ and The Salvation Army’s Empty Stocking program.
“I signed up, not even knowing if we’d get accepted,” said Jennifer, who’s used to falling through the cracks of the country’s safety net programs. “We make $25 too much for food stamps. I got SSI for a while, then they took me off, saying my husband makes too much money.”
“Too much,” in this case, is the $450 a week Joe makes driving a bus for the Allen County Regional Transit Authority. Jennifer, 42, hasn’t worked since 2004, during her high-risk pregnancy with Jake. Then she suffered a stroke in 2005 and lost the vision in her left eye. And she’s a diabetic.
“I’m like a walking health problem,” she said cheerfully.
The family gets medical assistance through Medicaid, but there’s life going on between those doctors’ appointments and trips to the pharmacy. “Sometimes, I have to borrow $20 from Jessica to buy milk and eggs,” said Jennifer.
They’re in need of grocery store gift cards or gas cards. A new front door, to replace the warped and heat-leaking one they have, would be a dream come true. Jake, the doctor-mandated couch surfer, would like a hoverboard.
“Well, he wouldn’t have to move!” said Jennifer.
Reach Amy Eddings at 567-242-0379 or Twitter, @lima_eddings.