The Emotional Rollercoaster Ride of GoFundMe

My husband needs to have two discs replaced, so of course he needs the one operation our health insurance doesn’t cover. Oh well. That means we’ll end up with a huge medical bill, and have to use vacation money for the next few years to pay it off. It turns out that

  • their estimated costs are doubled what we estimated they would be
  • we don’t take that many vacations, certainly not enough to pay this thing off any time soon
  • the doctor wants to be paid in full before he starts
  • the hospital wants half upfront

They stopped being helpful with scheduling the surgery when the prospect of insurance paying dried up. This is when our brilliant cherub stepped in and set up a GoFundMe page: requesting help raising the funds for her father’s operation. When I say our daughter is brilliant, I mean it!

The outpouring of love produced by this endeavor has been amazing, but what’s been surprising is the emotional rollercoaster it has generated in me.

When the first donations came in from family members, I felt this weird combination of joy mixed with a deep appreciation. Their messages acknowledged how much my husband has helped them over the years, and they saw their donations as thank-you’s.

Then some names showed up that I didn’t recognize… friends of my daughter who wanted to support her during this stressful time. That warmed my soul to know she has such a loving generous group of friends.

The gifts that brought tears to my eyes were from people whose donation was accompanied by an apology for not being able to offer   I don’t know how to tell them how much their desire to sacrifice for our sake matters to us. The mere fact that they want to give is an incredible present all by itself.

My heart ached from the emails we received outside of the GoFundMe platform apologizing for not being able to give money due to difficult circumstances. I suggested they instead send my husband humorous get-well memes which will cost nothing, but will have a positive impact.

What I really want to do is zoom through the Internet, hug all the apologizers, and give them a little nudge to help them recognize the gift they have already created by reaching out in the first place.

You never know how you touch other people’s lives. Children we coached in basketball fifteen years ago (now no longer children), and their b-ball parents, have reached out. It’s exciting to reconnect, even under these circumstances.

Then there are the very large donations. Yes, of course I’m thrilled when I see them, but then it’s followed by a bizarre feeling about whether it’s proper to accept it or not.

Weird, right? Of course it’s appropriate to accept. We asked for help, and they are giving it. Period. That’s my head talking. Nevertheless, one gift was so large, my emotions prompted a call to the donor to make sure it hadn’t been an accidental typo. It wasn’t. Did I feel embarrassed? Slightly. Relieved? Definitely!

Yes, unexpectedly my feelings are running the entire gamut, and this is only the first day of the GoFundMe I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow brings.


Is Life Like the Movies?

Life is like the movies.

In the movie “Last Holiday” with Queen Latifah as Georgia Byrd, when the main character goes to her Health Maintenance Organization with an ailment that requires surgery, they explain her policy doesn’t cover the necessary procedure. The same thing happened to us when after almost three months of constant pain, and after the doctor said my husband’s degenerative disc disease required two replacement discs, our health insurance representative said the procedure wouldn’t be covered.

In the same movie, Georgia Byrd realizes if she is going to have the surgery, she’s going to have to pay for it.

That was the same conclusion we reached. We figured it would take some time, but we’d eventually pay off the medical bills.

Life is not like the movies.

In the movie, Georgia’s HMO Administrator tells her, “The cost of a median cranial debulkin’ surgery is around $340,000. That’s without anesthesia. You’ll want that.”

Our real-life insurance rep couldn’t tell us the cost, although the doctor wanted to be paid in full before he started, and the hospital wanted 50% of the cost up front… and even though neither the hospital nor the insurance rep had any idea what the cost to stay overnight was.

Anesthesia was not mentioned.

Our procedure is not brain surgery, so the cost is not $340,000, but when they told us the $65,000 price tag, you could have knocked me over with a feather. My husband and I kinda just blinked at each other, like we were watching a movie.

We shared the bad news with our beautiful millennial, who lives on the other side of the country. After sputtering with me in indignation for a few minutes, her MSM (Millennial Solution Mode) kicked in. “Let’s see how much we can raise through GoFundMe.”

I could hear typing noises over the phone. “You know how to do that?”

“I’ve never tried it before.” Click! “There! It’s all set up. I’m sending you the link.”

Ping! I opened the link (yes, I’m very tech-savvy) and there it was – our very own GoFundMe page. “Now what?”

“You have to share it with everyone you know, and see what happens.”

It was a very odd concept. My husband and I were doing that blinking thing again. “Sure. Why not.”

Life is like the movies.

Have you ever seen the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart playing George Bailey? You know that scene at the end where it’s hard not to get teary-eyed, the one where George’s friends and family come to his rescue by each contributing a little bit of money?

That’s what watching this GoFundMe page is like. We reached out to people with whom we’ve lost touch, to the people currently in our lives, to the people from our childhood. I sent emails and posted it on social media, and our friends and family responded… and some of their friends and family responded.

I can’t find the words to express how this experience feels. We are completely humbled and grateful for the love they demonstrated with their donations. People are so wonderful.

Life is just like the movies.

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