For the last few years, every time I talked to my friend Kay Brown, I could see pain in her eyes. The physical suffering she had endured since her whiplash injury 17 years prior had become too much for her to manage, and the quality of her life was deteriorating at the same rate as the bone alignment of her diseased spine.
As much as she wanted to distract herself with the company of friends, the agony she was in made her withdraw once it became all-consuming. Having normal conversations felt next to impossible.
“I’d be talking to someone, already feeling terrible, and suddenly I’d get a jolt of unbearable pain that I wouldn’t be able to hide,” she explained. It became easier for her to just stay home than to try to be social.
After years of being told nothing could be done, a surgeon named Dr. Kim in Houston, Texas, said the words she’d been praying to hear: he could fix her.
“I sat across from that nice Asian doctor with his cute Texas accent and listened to him tell me that he could immediately eliminate 75 per cent of my pain with an operation he could do in his sleep,” she said. “He claimed the other 25 per cent would diminish over time. I was in shock.”
Her friends and family were overjoyed at the news, and Kay was hopeful, but she couldn’t wrap her head around the staggering cost.
“A one night stay in the hospital would be $80,000,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine coming up with that kind of money on top of the surgery and travel expenses.”
Loved ones urged her to get the operation and figure out the finances later. Her new friends whom she had just met at the hotel in Houston, managed to get the hospital charges decreased. Now $30,000 would be required upfront, and an additional $20,000 afterward.
Within one day some friends back home completely astonished her by coming up with the hefty loan for the down payment.
Overwhelmed with emotion, Kay laid down on a lounge chair at the hotel. “When I opened my eyes a couple minutes later, three black swans were beside me,” she said. “They stayed with me for 40 minutes. It felt magical – like some kind of omen. At first, I didn’t want to Google the meaning of it, just in case it meant the kiss of death or something.”
According to the Internet, the black beauties symbolized an epic event. That felt right to Kay. She went ahead and had the operation, and it was a huge success.
Talking face to face with my friend is a different experience now. Her eyes still well up easily, not from shooting pain or despair, but from the love and support extended to her by her friends and family, and even complete strangers during her time of need.
Her physical and mental transformation has come at a high price though, and her friends are now trying to help her pay the debt back.
“Kay’s a hard working single mother of three daughters, and a respected business owner in our community,” said Dr. Dave Manns, her friend and chiropractor. “This woman has a heart of gold. I just hope that we can help her the way she would try to help any of us if the roles were reversed.”
A fundraising event for her is being held on Saturday, December 7th at the Holiday Inn in West Kelowna. Auction items and cash donations are being gratefully accepted, and there are a few tickets left for sale. It is sure to be an epic event. The black swans from Texas confirmed it.
To donate or read more information: CashMobForKay.com
Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com