Struggle to Survive

Written by: Denise Houle

In 2002 I started to have issues with my balance and cognitive functions. It was interrupting my work abilities and home life.

I struggled but worked until 2008. By this time, I was losing important documents, work, and failing on the job. I was let go from work. One month later I had a severe Bell’s Palsy attack and two weeks later my husband lost his job due to an internal issue with his lease operator and the company. Our insurance company denied our insurance, stating I had a pre-existing condition, even though I didn’t have a diagnosis yet.

We lost our house and moved into our 5th Wheel for over a year. Then we moved back to BC to be closer to family. I cashed in my pension, we rented out our house and we did our best to save everything. The renters destroyed our home and we ended up losing everything. We became homeless and had to move in with relatives to survive.

My body and mind were failing me this entire time. I had to fight the government every step of the way to get my federal pension and even had to get the support of my MP. They cancelled my disability tax credit periodically and forced me to spend more money on doctors’ forms to prove that I was still sick.

It has taken 10 years just to get to a place where we have stable housing and can afford a bit of medication for me.
We are constantly stressed about our financial situation. We have a line of credit we have to dip into time and time again just for food and medications. Then, month to month we hope that we will recover.

The stress alone from the lack of money sends me into attacks. We have to choose between my medication and basic human dignity for some months. I haven’t had therapies in so long I don’t remember what even a little relief feels like. I feel abandoned by the country I helped build.

My attacks consist of searing pain in my spine, loss of sight, being bedridden, plus many more.

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