Celebrating client’s triumphs, life – written by Melinda Hash, Housing Success Coach
One year ago, I featured Ms. P. as my Benchmark Success Story. One year later, I want to add to her story in honor of the life she lived.
Ms. P. is a 59 year-old woman who had been living in several of our community’s shelters. She was known to the City with Dwellings, Salvation Army, and Bethesda staff due to several bouts of homelessness. Ms. P. lost her house more than 7 years ago, which began her homelessness spiral. In addition, her health began deteriorating which resulted in having frequent hospital stays.
While under the doctor’s care, Ms. P. was prescribed pain pills to take to help her manage her pain. But soon, Ms. P. became addicted to those opioids and she became dependent on them to keep her high. Ms. P. was also dealing with mental health issues that caused her to go between anxiety and depressive mood swings. Ms. P. was determined to beat her addiction and with the help of a clinic, she has been able to maintain her sobriety for nearly 2 years. Her health decline, along with her homelessness nearly cost her life. Ms. P. suffered from more than seven chronic conditions that continued to require her to go to the doctor.
When Ms. P. came to ESR, she told her case manager that she still had goals she wanted to achieve, with one of them being housing. In addition, she listed as another one of her goals that she wanted to be able to spend more time with her son and grandchildren. Ms. P. was enrolled in ESR’s program in October 2018. She was so happy to finally have her own place again! Before she received her keys, she told her case manager that she wanted to fix up her apartment and have her children and grandchildren to come and visit her. She often said they were the most important people in her life.
However, shortly after Ms. P. moved in to her unit, she began having a major health challenge that required hospitalization. When her case manager went to visit her in the hospital, Ms. P. informed her that she had to have surgery to amputate two of her appendages. Still, she remained upbeat and worked hard to gain her strength to walk again. During this time, she always maintained contact with her case manager by phone and in person. Ms. P. loves to draw and used that to help her through this first ordeal. Little did she know that her endurance would be tested again.
Almost a year later, the doctors told her that her condition began to worsen and that they needed to do another amputation. Ms. P. remained upbeat and said that she would bounce back. It was tough for her during the months following, which included rehab and intensive physical therapy, but she slowly made it. Today, Ms. P. makes sure she attends all of her weekly appointments at Insight, is getting around with c cane or walker when needed, and she’s still drawing pictures.
Today, Ms. P. is happy, and more vibrant as she has adjusted well to her new life.
Ms. P’s health began to decline but she was still making sure she went to her weekly methadone treatments. Last month, Ms. P. experienced a great loss – the passing of her dear and beloved sister, who was a great hand of support to her, helping to take her to appointments. They were in constant communication daily, and when she passed, Ms. P. deeply felt that loss and began to experience bout with depression. Nevertheless, she still made her way to Insight. With the help of her emotional support dog, Shadow, Ms. P. began to show some signs of bouncing back emotionally.
However, the trauma she had experienced from her years of homelessness and the operations she had to have due to several infections began to take a toll on her. Ms. P. still wanted to maintain her sense of independence and was adamant about handling her own affairs, much to the dissent of her family and ESR staff. On April 21, 2021, her Housing Success Coach received a call from one of her relatives who was very disturbed and could not contact her. Her Housing Success Coach also tried several times to contact her to no avail. ESR staff went to her residence, where she was found unconscious in her unit with her dog by her side.
Ms. P. passed away that day. Though she is no longer here, Ms. P. passed away in her own unit with her best friend, her dog Shadow, by her side. Some of the doctors, as well as some of her friends felt that she would never survive, or better yet, finally get off the streets. She did both. She faced many obstacles pertaining to her health, but she persevered, and on November 19, 2018, she moved into her own place!
Ms. P. defied both odds and was able to live the remainder of her life in an independent setting, becoming a more self-sufficient individual. She also achieved an increase in her income, and social and emotional stability which enabled her to improve her quality of life and functionality. In the end, Ms. P. was able to transition peacefully in her own bed, with her emotional support dog Shadow by her side, and not out in the streets. For this reason, in life, and during her time at ESR, she achieved success and for the month of April, we the Housing Staff at ESR honor her.