TLDR: I've launched a GoFundMe and could use your help.
A little over seven years ago, in my eighth month at home waiting for the perfect job to fall out of the sky, something that would fit both my passion and my needs, a job posting went up on this site. I'd been reading MGoBlog since high school; now I was hastily assembling a resumé for a full-time job taking over for two talented and productive part-timers who'd secured full-time sportswriting gigs themselves.
At the time, I was two years removed from being diagnosed with ME/CFS after a protracted quest for answers to odd health problems. My condition hadn't stopped me from graduating school—a much easier task once I knew what I had on board—and launching my own site, for which I wrote on a near-daily basis. I figured writing from home about something I love would make it easy. (I wasn't entirely wrong there.) I had no idea what I was in for; neither did Brian, who only knew me from my work.
In the years since, I've been on the field at Michigan Stadium for the finishes to the 2011 Notre Dame and Ohio State games, covered seven seasons of football in some of the greatest settings in sports, interviewed high school kids who've gone on to become NFL starters, contributed to a report that expedited the exit of a reviled athletic director, had my research and a photograph published in a New York Times bestseller, covered a Hall of Fame coach (he liked my tweets!) and his two Final Four teams, sat down with future NBA first-rounders, and rubbed elbows with Michigan sports and journalism luminaries. I've lived out a childhood dream, one I know full well isn't just mine.
More importantly, I've become part of a true community. Brian created a special place here, not just focused on analyzing the programs we cover but the great impact sports can make on us and we can make on each other. When my health increasingly impacted my ability to work on a reliable schedule, he supported me with both job stability and greater flexibility to mold my work to my capabilities. When recovering from surgery this spring took longer than planned and wiped out my normal summer recovery time, he not only gave me the room to take a paid leave, he assured me I'd be taken care of regardless of the outcome.
I still didn't expect this to be the outcome. My body hasn't bounced back in the way I'd hoped. It's time, at least for now, for me to resign my post and focus on my health.
I can't put into words how much it's meant to work here and how much gratitude I have for the people in this community. I'd especially like to thank the crew here. Working with Brian, Seth, Heiko, Adam, Dave, Eric, Fuller, Patrick, Marc-Gregor, Alex, Bryan, Matt, Ethan, Morris, The_Mathlete, and everyone else who's contributed has been an honor and a pleasure. This is a remarkably talented group of people; they're also now great friends and a critical part of my support system, even though many of us often go months (sometimes years!) without seeing each other in person.
It's not in my nature to ask for help until I'm in dire need. In this case, unfortunately, my needs fit that description.
I'm currently living alone in a townhouse that costs $900/month after my housemates moved out on short notice when I was physically unable to move myself. My plan to continue living here involved considerable financial support from my family, which for reasons I won't get into here I can no longer totally rely upon, and continuing to work. This has all happened rather quickly.
I made a little under $50,000 last year—Brian has taken great care of me—and maintaining something close to that income would allow me to truly relax and do what I need to manage my health. Over the past several years, my annual medical costs have ranged from $10,000 to $30,000—my prescription medications alone nearly match my monthly rent. I need to make yearly trips to Alabama to see my ME/CFS specialist, a world-class doctor in a field with vanishingly few experts. (My doctor is one of a couple of ME/CFS specialists that the head of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at U-M will recommend to patients; he does not recommend seeking treatment for ME/CFS at U-M.)
In my current state, work is not an option, and really hasn't been much of one since I had surgery on my gall bladder and esophagus in May. I'm in constant pain, my weight is stuck in a frighteningly low zone of 130-135 pounds (I'm 5'10), I'm sleeping around 12 hours a day and essentially in a state of semi-consciousness for several more, and simple tasks like doing the dishes or even walking down the stairs takes considerable effort. ME/CFS symptoms often follow waves of severity and this is a low point; I'm optimistic rest and less stress will at least stabilize my health to its pre-surgery level and allow me to live a fuller life.
With Brian's blessing and the support of the whole site, I've launched a GoFundMe to cover my living and medical costs for what can hopefully be at least a year off to rest and recover. Anything you can give would be deeply appreciated.
I should add that this is not goodbye. I still plan to be around a bit; I just can't keep up with the day-to-day. At the very least, I'll still be on Twitter—yes, tweeting about Michigan sports—and I'm hoping to make the occasional contribution around here, too.
The outpouring of support since I posted this video on Twitter last night has been nothing short of incredible. While I'm sad to be giving this up, I'm excited for the next chapter in my life, which I plan to involve improved health and a greater presence as a patient advocate. I can't thank you all enough for following along with my journey, and I hope you'll continue to do so.