Empty Stocking: Daughter’s health care drains single mother’s budget

First Posted: 12/2/2013

LIMA — Paige and her three children have been fortunate enough to see the generosity of others at work before.

“We've lived in this house for about seven years,” she said. “It's a Habitat for Humanity house, so we all had a hand in helping to build it.”

“I couldn't help because I was too little,” Paige's middle daughter, Brittany, said as she sat in her wheelchair. “I would've helped, though, if I could have.”

Brittany, 11, was born with spina bifida, a disorder in which some of the vertebrae in the spine are not fully formed, allowing the spinal cord to partially protrude out of the spine. Consequently, Brittany has had 28 surgeries in her lifetime, 25 of them before the age of 5.

“We have to go down to Cincinnati Children's Hospital two or three times a month,” Paige said.

During that time, Brittany is examined by a host of various doctors, from neurologists to geneticists.

Paige, now divorced and raising these children as a single mother, suffers from Nash Syndrome, which causes an enlarged liver and has compromised her immune system, so she is now unable to work. Consequently, paying for these trips has been difficult, to say the least.

“We try to pack food so we don't have to go to restaurants,” Paige said. “And the hospital can sometimes help with hotel costs, if we have to stay overnight, but we're still looking at $76 for a room.”

Although the family has a roommate who helps cover some expenses, such as utilities and cable, most of Paige's finances is committed to Brittany's care. Subsequently, Paige is concerned about providing gifts to Brittany and her other children, Nicole, 15, and Adam, 10.

“The kids need clothes badly,” Paige said. “Brittany wears size 14 pants and a girl's large shirt, Adam wears a size 12 husky in pants and size 14 to 16 shirt, and with Nicole, honestly, it's best to have gift cards for clothes for her. One store's clothes may fit well for her and another's won't.”

As for Paige's Christmas, her thoughts immediately went back to helping Brittany make it to the doctor.

“My biggest need is gas cards to get Brittany to Cincinnati,” she said. “Even fast food cards for lunches down there would help a lot, too.”

The Empty Stocking Fund benefits three cooperating agencies, Bradfield Community Center, Cheryl Allen Southside Community Center and the Salvation Army. Money can be donated by sending it to The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima OH 45807, or by dropping it off at any Superior Federal Credit Union branch. Donations of new toys and nonperishable food items will be accepted at The Lima News office. These stories use assumed names to protect the participants' privacy.

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