Thank you everybody. Our campaign is now over.
Help Leewana heal -- get her back in action!
$4,801 raised
107% of $4.5k goal
104 contributors
0 days left
Ended Feb 18, 2020

I must fight with all my strength so that the little positive things that my health allows me to do might be pointed toward helping the revolution. The only real reason for living. - Frida Kahlo

***

Hey there!  

Wow. I didn’t realize how difficult this would be to write. I believe that we strengthen our communities and fight tyranny when we lift each other up. But it’s still not easy to admit that while I am fortunate and privileged in so many ways, I, Leewana, your friend, comrade, and co-conspirator, have a debilitating health condition. It’s even harder to add that because I want so desperately to be back in the trenches with you, I’m asking for your help. Ack, vulnerability! 

 

What’s going on? 

In case you don’t want to read the whole story... I have been suffering from debilitating migraines for the last year and would appreciate any help you can offer. You can donate once now, or choose a recurring donation that will last ONLY for the next four months. I have no preference, it's whatever works for you.

If you want more detail, read on! 

 

For a little over a year, I’ve had a migraine almost every day. I started getting periodic migraines when I was 13 -- not fun, but manageable. Then last May, I flew backwards on a bus and got a concussion. My doctors think that it “triggered my pain systems,” and are hard at work to identify possible underlying conditions. All I know for sure is that it changed everything. 

 

Because migraines aren’t “visible,” it can be easy to diminish their impact. But the World Health Organization rates them as the 6th most debilitating health condition overall, and they take top honors among neurological conditions. This is a useful article about the full impact of migraine, from mental fuzziness to excruciating pain.

 

For me, some days it’s “just” a headache. Those are among the days that I might be able to muster up energy to socialize or go to a meeting. But too often, my head throbs, I can’t stand, I feel dizzy, I’m nauseous, and all I can do is lie down in a dark room. In my darkest moments, it feels like migraines have completely taken over my life, and I doubt whether I’ll be able to do things like exercise, work full time, or socialize in groups ever again. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that migraines are strongly linked to depression and other mood disorders.

 

I’ve become another medical debt sob story. 

In the initial aftermath of my concussion, I never imagined that I would still be in chronic pain over a year later. And when I was forced to stop working altogether in January, I had no idea that solving my headaches could take this much time, energy, and resources. 

 

I’ve tried remedies across the spectrum of Eastern and Western medicine, from acupuncture to magnesium to Botox. Unfortunately since the scientific community knows so little about migraines, most treatment plans are based on trial and error. By committing to put the necessary effort into feeling better, I’ve taken on a crippling amount of medical debt. 

 

Oh, the places I’d go without migraines holding me back.

My medical debt is suffocating. But the hardest part of this ordeal is being forced to sit still for days, weeks, and months when there is so much work to do. I’m happy when I’m dancing with dear friends. I’m happy when I have enough energy to support my loved ones like they deserve. I am happiest fighting for a better world alongside all of you.

 

I’ve been fortunate throughout the years to be surrounded by inspiring visionaries and doers. Over and over I’ve seen that righteously angry people can hack away at the seemingly inescapable power of the big banks, retail giants, a white supremacist government, and anything else they throw at us. 

 

I never dreamed that I would be forced to take such tremendous steps back from my work in the movement , from close friends, and also from many of the simple pleasures I enjoy in life. It’s been discouraging, but I am holding out hope that I can feel enough like myself again to get back to imagining and creating a more hopeful future for all of us. 

 

I am DETERMINED to get better. 

 Like Frida, a fellow chronic pain sufferer, I am going to “ fight with all my strength” so that what “my health allows me to do might be pointed toward helping the revolution.” I’ve been trying to stay engaged in the struggle in small ways, and over the next few weeks I’m going to experiment with reconnecting with the work in a more part-time capacity. I hope that my contributions can get bigger and bigger as I continue treatment. A nd once I’m back, I intend to fight so that nobody else has to have the experience of choosing between financial security and health.

 

There is some good news…  

In the past two months, I’ve developed a relationship with a leading neurologist and researcher at Mayo Clinic. It’s been refreshing to experience Mayo’s model of integrative health, and talk to doctors who can actually give me the time I need. With their support, I’m hoping to continue experimenting with new and unusual remedies to see what offers relief. Among these are CGRP inhibitor shots, Trigeminal Nerve devices, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. It’s too early for me to give out too much information without jinxing it… but Mayo doctors may have also found an underlying condition making my headaches worse. Fingers crossed! 

 

And now for the hard part … going beyond typical methods (which haven’t worked for me), and visiting top-notch medical institutions (when others can’t give me what I need) costs a lot of money. I’m lucky to have gotten support from my family, but we are at the end of our means. In order to continue down these treatment paths, and hopefully ultimately get relief, I need some kind of miracle. 

 

That’s why I’m reaching out to my beloved community.

 Because of insurance compatibility issues, the CGRP-inhibitor shot costs $650 per month. A “Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation” or “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation” Device totals around $500, or $250 / month, depending on which I use. Continued visits to Mayo Clinic cost $400 - $500 each. And as mentioned above, I’ve accumulated thousands in medical debt over the last year. 

 

I’m not asking to cover my living costs, or even my entire medical costs. But any small dent you can help put in this sum, which totals from $800 - $1500 per month, is deeply felt.

 

You can either donate in one chunk, or choose the option to spread it out over the next 4 months. All donations will go directly towards the medical costs I outlined above, or towards paying off prior medical debt. I am making it possible to donate on a recurring basis because some friends shared that they would like the option to spread out their donation over a few months... Do whatever feels best to you! My goal is to use this boost to dive into new treatments, and level out my costs as I discover what works. I will keep you consistently updated, and you can rescind a donation at any time.  

 

Without your help, I’m stuck, but with it, I know that I can continue on my path towards healing. 

 

Thank you.

One thing I have taken away from this ordeal is a consistent gratitude practice. Even if I haven’t spoken to you in a while, chances are I’m thinking of you often as I consider circumstances, experiences, and people for which I am thankful. You’ve taught me the power of compassionate acts, and I hope you know that the next time you’re in need I want to be the first person you approach for support. Thank you for reading this far and for considering my requests, even as there are infinite worthy causes. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions, comments, poetry, kind words, etc :) Peace, love, & solidarity forever!

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