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Empty Stocking: Illness makes holidays hard


August 24. 2013 9:12PM
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LIMA — Christmas is tough enough for a mother of six without a job. Add in a debilitating illness, and you have the formula for a rough holiday season.Phyllis (not her real name) was having trouble making ends meet before she got sick. A minimum-wage job doesn't cover the bills, especially when you have six kids all under 17. Then came the pain, a jolt of agony that feels like a live electric wire to the face, followed by paralyzing muscle spasms. Doctors eventually discovered she had a condition in which her brain was too large for her skull. She went to Cleveland for surgery the day before Thanksgiving. She's back home now, living with her mother. But everything is not OK.“They basically opened her head from the center to the base of the skull at the spine. She's having troubles now. Her balances is all off, her eyes are sensitive to light. I'm just trying to keep her where it's quiet. That's not easy with all these kids,” her mother said.The surgery means Phyllis will have to postpone her search for a new job. Her mother has been helping out with her unemployment payments — the company she worked for 27 years left town last year — but those stop this month and, at 67, the chances of finding a new job are slim.Even though the unemployment stops, the bills don't.“Right now, she's worried about keeping the van so we can get back and forth to the doctors,” her mother said. “Making payment on that and everything else, it's hard.”It's also hard to explain to children they shouldn't expect anything for Christmas. Phyllis's youngest daughter wants a doll. The youngest twins (there are two sets of twins) mostly like hand-held games. One of the girls is hoping for a bike. One of the boys wants a scooter or something else with wheels.“Anything boyish and dangerous,” his aunt explained. Most of the children could use new coats as well. That's likely to be a priority this year. Grandmother already has told them not to get their hopes up for much more.“They're going to appreciate whatever they get,” she said. “I already had that talk with them.”





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