Navigating through the often complex web of medical care can be difficult enough without having to schedule appointments, tests and surgeries over the holidays. Now, imagine muddling through while living in a shelter, not knowing where you would be living next once your stay came to an end.
This is what Laura Hauner, a 33-year resident of the Flathead Valley, had been facing the past several weeks.
Hauner is struggling with Crohnís disease, fighting colon cancer and is permanently disabled after an accident left her with titanium plates in her neck and rods in her leg. These are conditions she faces every day; however, come December she will also be facing carpal tunnel surgery in Kalispell on her wrist and shoulder, and colon surgery in Missoula.
Hauner lost her home when the lot her daughterís trailer was on was sold and her family had to move out of town. With all her upcoming medical appointments and two surgeries, she decided it was best for her to stay in town and had been temporarily living at Samaritan House until late October.
Her cellphone keeps her in touch with her son and daughter for now. A friend of her sonís even purchased a prepaid phone card for her. Hauner has had the phone for a long time, but recently started having trouble with it. She took it in to Walmart to have it checked out and troubleshooted for more than three hours with manufacturer representatives over the phone. She went through five or six representatives before she was transferred to a manager who told her that her phone was, indeed, malfunctioning, and in the course of trying to repair it, it had somehow been disabled permanently. The manager offered to send a free replacement but it would take 10 days to arrive. With all her health issues, being without a phone could put Hauner in danger in the event of an emergency.
The employees at Walmart empathized with her apprehension about being temporarily without a phone. On behalf of Walmart, the department manager donated a $30 gift card to Hauner; a new phone cost $29.97. Then two other women employees who had been helping her bought her $25 in prepaid phone minutes. Hauner said she felt compelled to bring in some medical documents from her car to show that she was indeed telling them the truth, even though the employees assured her that it wasnít necessary.
Touched by their kindness, Hauner called the Inter Lake because she wanted to somehow acknowledge and thank the three Walmart employees for their compassion and generosity.
For now, Haunerís immediate future is under control. She has applied for emergency housing but at the time we talked she still didnít know where she would be during her recovery.
As I learned more about her story, she shared some more details about her familyís situation. Her little brotherís trailer in Coram was badly damaged when four large trees fell on it during one of the recent windstorms that swept through the valley. Although its roof is dented and sides caved in, he and his teenage son are still living in it.
She explained that her 47-year-old brother James Boyd was disabled some years ago after falling from a roof while cleaning a chimney and breaking his neck. Heís all by himself, she said, her voice faltering, and needs help. Hauner has been able to help him with gas, some vouchers and clothes. She is hoping the communities of Coram and Martin City can reach out to her brother and his son and lend them a helping hand.
Community editor Carol Marino can be reached at 758-4440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.