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Monday, May 2, 2011

Divine Mercy, Suffering, and My Brother John

Yesterday, on the Feast of Divine Mercy, I visited my younger brother John who is living in a nursing home in Ellicott City, MD.  John reminds me of the blind man sitting on the side of the road, who hears that Jesus is passing by and calls out over and over, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" And that's why I'm writing this blog ask for your prayers and help for my beloved brother.

John, a retired Baltimore County policeman, had a stroke two years ago at the ripe old age of 54. Wlhat a shock to all of us in the family! Unfortunately, he wasn't found for six or seven hours so he missed the "golden hour" when doctors can administer clot busting meds and minimize the worst effects of a stroke. John suffered significant damage as a result, and his left side is almost completely paralized. He also later developed a condition called Tranverse Myelitis (TM) that attacks the myelin around the spinal cord. Before the TM struck he was living at home with help and would come visit us every four to six weeks for four or five days both to give him a change of scenery and give the major care givers a break. But now, the level of aid needed is more than anyone can handle, although we still hope he will improve enough to go home.

But another complicating factor hindering a return home is Medicaid. I don't know all the details, but they are now taking every bit of his pension to pay for the nursing home and they want his condo too. But if they take John's condo he has no place to go if/when he improves enough to go home. So John's oldest daughter and one of my sisters are working with a lawyer who specializes in Medicaid to try to get a Medicaid waiver to let him keep his condo. Two of my sisters share caregiving by being at the nursing home every weekday. Since John is getting no therapy, they do it. And when I was there yesterday Larry and I became the therapists of the day helping John practice walking (four corridors worth) and exercising his bad arm and hand. Hopefully he will get more professional therapy, but apparently Medicaid has a limit. To complicate things further, John is in chronic neuroligical pain which is apparently one of the most difficult types to control. We are looking at several opions including an implanted electric stimulator. But right now, he gets little relief. I'm edified by his patient, uncomplaining suffering. The only time he mentions it to me is if I ask a direct question. What a role model!

At present, since Medicaid takes every cent John has coming in, we have been looking for alternate ways to cover his other bills: cell phone, insurance, lawyer fees to protect his rights, mortgage on the condo, etc.. It's amazing how many miscellaneous expenses there are. Some family members are making a monthly donation and others are helping as they can. But we all know how expensive medical care is.

An organization called Ravens Roost 97 is organizing a fundraiser for John to be held at the Arbutus Town Hall (1349 Stevens Ave., Arbutus, MD 21227) on Sunday, June 12 from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Cost is $25.00 for adults and $10.00 for children which includes beer, sodas, and food (grilled hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken with sides). There will also be entertainment: a DJ and karioke, a Chinese auction, a home made quilt auction and a 50/50 raffle.

If you live in the Baltimore/Washington area I'd love to see you there. If you can't make it but would like to make a donation you can mail a check made out to Ravens Roost 97 designating in the memo "for John Schneider." Mail it to Ravens Roost 97, C/O Jim McCain, 1102 Elmridge Ave., Baltimore MD 21229.

As a side note, John has always been a hero of mine. He's a natural story teller and can hold all of us spellbound describing his experiences on the force. And he's the kind of person who would give you the shirt off his back. He rescued me and Larry not long before he had the stroke. If you're curious about how click on the first link below.

A Personal Story About John
Please Pray for John

1 comment:

KevinDW said...

My name is Kevin Weilacher....I just today came across the story about your brother John.
First, I want to express my sympathies to him for everything he has gone through recently..
It seems he has had more than his fair share of health issues...
between the stroke and then the Transverse Myelitis.
I myself have Transverse Myelitis and I know what I go through on a day to day basis....I cannot even imagine what your brother has endured with having the stroke prior to the TM....
Anyway, I just wanted to reach out...
I am a very active TM activist for spreading awareness and doing what I can to spread the word and to try and raise funds to donate to research for a cure for TM.
I'm the V.P. of an organization that does just that...
It's called the International Disability Coalition...
and I'm also the head administrator of a TM support website called the Transverse Myelitis Network.

I invite you to stop on over at either website to check them out....and to let you know that I have posted Johns story to our Facebook group also...
So know that John will have tons of support, prayers and friendship from the TM community also...
I would welcome hearing back from you and if you ever have any questions or anything that I could help with....just ask.
My email is