Have A Heart

Is a flood an occasion? What about heart valve replacement surgery?

I know; this is at least the third time I've mentioned the infamous May 2010 Nashville flood that totaled my house. But, in this post as in Do Your Best and Reconnecting The Dots it's as much about the character and goodwill of others as anything else. Because in the midst of rebuilding my wardrobe the person who got here first, worked hardest and longest, and led the crew of volunteers that showed up to put our lives back together is now in need of help.

So let me introduce you to the worst dressed person - on purpose  - I know. Someone who calls me Zsa Zsa even when I'm dressed like this.

This is Amy Hopkins (and me 17 pounds ago) in my living room, post-drywall, pre-floor, sketching out one of the many changes she made to make my house better after the flood. Amy's "day job" is repairing and restoring musical instruments. It is in this capacity that we were acquainted with her. She and Mr Spashionista did some work restoring some of the instruments that were ravaged by hurricane Katrina. But Amy also spearheaded efforts to rebuild homes in NOLA and made multiple trips to the Big Easy at her own expense. She was also the driving force behind our own rebuild, coming down from Maryland on three separate occasions to do more work or teach us how to do it ourselves.

Four months ago Amy's doctor discovered a congenital defect in her aorta where two of the aortic valvular leaflets had fused during development; a condition called Bicuspid Aortic Valve. People with BAV tire easily and have difficulty maintaining stamina for moderate to intense physical activity. The heart is unduly stressed in order to either pump more blood through a defective valve or attempt to circulate regurgitation blood through a leaking valve. Surgery to replace the defective valve was imperative. Amy's doctor told her without the procedure she would be dead within a year's time.

Thankfully Amy had her surgery at Johns Hopkins on June 15th. She did better than expected and is now convalescing at home. With no insurance and barely any possessions Amy has too much to qualify for assistance yet far too little to pay the mounting medical bills herself.

An indiegogo effort is in place to raise money for Amy's surgery and aftercare. The goal is to raise $35,000 to go in it's entirety (minus indiegogo's fees) towards Amy's surgery and aftercare expenses. Here is the link to the campaign with more of Amy's story entitled Amy Hopkins' New Heart Valve and the FaceBook page Amy Hopkins' Broken Heart Club.

I know that many of us with disabilities can't afford to give much, if anything. But all of us with access to a computer can share this story. Tweet it, share it on Facebook and Google+, pin it on Pinterest, etc.  The campaign will be active until midnight November 5, 2012.

If anyone in your life has ever given you a break, made it better, made things easier, saved the day, I hope you'll consider paying it forward by helping Amy any way you can.