CHM's pre-existing condition programs help member with debilitating back pain
By Beth Grimm, Lancaster, Pa.
I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the financial provision available through Christian Healthcare Ministries and how its pre-existing conditions programs fully shared my medical expenses.
For many years I was a reading specialist teaching missionaries’ children in Tanzania and Guatemala. My long-term health crisis began just as I was planning to finish another degree as a school psychologist to provide assessment, intervention and consultation services to missionary kids’ schools worldwide.
But God had other plans. A “parenthesis” of testing my faith began that would last 15 years. As Oswald Chambers writes, God “battered [me] into the shape of the vision.”
Part of the journey included two rounds of breast cancer nine years apart. At the time I had health insurance because I was working at a small private school.
I thought my medical challenges were finally behind me, but in 2014 I started having excruciating pain in my right hip. It took about two months for doctors to diagnose the pain’s source: herniated discs.
I underwent physical therapy and for about six months felt much better. However, the pain surfaced in my left hip. This time I knew exactly what to do. I resumed physical therapy and checked in with my pain management doctor for more injections.
All of the treatment resulted in out-of-pocket costs that were about half my salary that year!
Meanwhile, I was ready to make the switch to private practice and was desperate to find a different solution for my healthcare costs. I joined CHM’s Gold program in Jan. 2015 and was pleased that it’s the original healthcare sharing ministry and has a long track record of sharing its members’ medical bills.
Before considering surgery my doctor wanted to rule out other treatment options, so for many months I endured more debilitating pain. Eventually I was barely able to walk. I crawled up steps, hung onto walls and furniture for support and couldn’t do most household tasks or participate in activities I enjoyed: hiking, baking, gardening and traveling.
Two bright spots during this difficult time were being able to work due to a sedentary job and biking, since the latter isn’t a weight-bearing activity. I also took prescription pain medication and propped my knees up with pillows so I could sleep at night.
Finally, spinal fusion surgery was scheduled in Nov. 2015. (This was considered a new medical incident and thus eligible for CHM’s pre-existing conditions programs.) The first week after the procedure was pain-free and I was able to walk a little more each day. I had a setback when the pain returned with a vengeance. I was in the hospital and bedridden in a rehab center for 10 days, after which I had to live with my mother for a month because my house has many sets of steep stairs.
Two doctors thought I had post-surgery swelling while two others insisted that another disc had become herniated. They were all correct, which meant a long recovery time for me. I underwent five more months of physical therapy and regularly used a stationary bike in my home to speed my healing and regain mobility.
I’m eternally grateful to CHM for sharing $17,000 through its Gold schedule for pre-existing conditions. After that, my name was put on the Prayer Page in the Heartfelt monthly newsletter. Members responded with their donations and in time I received over $43,000 in additional help with my medical expenses.
I’m so thankful for the monthly Prayer Page checks I received that helped keep me afloat, but even more encouraging were the notes, cards, letters, emails and prayers sent by fellow CHM members. I even received a hand-quilted throw blanket!
I was gradually able to do everything I had not been doing well for many years. Today I’m pain-free—something I thought I’d never feel again—and I have resumed all the activities I love. I can walk several miles and climb hills easily, have no problem with steps and can even travel internationally for my job. The most I experience is an occasional backache that is easily resolved within 30 minutes of taking a mild pain reliever.
I also had great experiences with my doctors and all the facilities where I received health services. They gave me generous self-pay discounts and the hospital offered manageable payment plans.
I praise the Lord for a full recovery and for functioning better than I have for many years. God is great and greatly to be praised!