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Friday, December 3, 2021

Wish Book: After Chronic Illness, San Jose Woman Seeks Independence Help

Nearly two decades after she left the Philippines for San Jose, Nerissa Ramirez’s life is finally getting easier.

She walked onto the assembly line at an electronics company in Fremont and bought her first car. At night, she spent time with friends or attended local meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

But then she was diagnosed with lupus – a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own organs and tissues – along with kidney disease.

“All of a sudden I’m struggling with my body,” Ramirez, 52, recalled. “It was so hard.”

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 12: Nerissa Ramirez cries as she recounts the story of her struggle on October 12, 2021 at her new apartment in San Jose, California (Dai Sugano / Bay Area News Group)

In the years since the 2012 diagnosis, this fight has reduced Ramirez’s independence to a fraction of what it once was. After years of work and living alone, her illness forced her to spend most of the past year in a skilled nursing facility, grueling dialysis treatments four times a week and relying on others for things like eating, bathing, and going to the toilet.

It was during this time that she met Tita Das, business manager at the Center for Independent Living in Silicon Valley, a non-profit organization that offers people with disabilities in Santa Clara County a range of free services such as advocacy, peer counseling, and assistance with transition from hospital to independent life.

“I saw that she was very ill,” Das said, “but she has this motivation, this aspiration.” Das began to ponder the key question: What can we take out of her path so that her journey can be completed in at least one way?

To this end, the non-profit organization hopes that the donations collected through the Wish Book will help make Ramirez’s life more comfortable.

Wish Book: After Chronic Illness, San Jose Woman Seeks Independence Help
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 12: Tita Das, Account Manager, Silicon Valley Center for Independent Living, speaks during an interview at Nerissa Ramirez’s apartment in San Jose, California, October 12, 2021 (Dai Sugano / Bay Area) Group news)

Until now, her path has been clouded by painful setbacks. A few months after she was first diagnosed with lupus, Ramirez’s energy disappeared. She had to cut her hours at an electronics company and was so exhausted that she could barely move her arms or get out of bed.

Since she suffered from various exacerbations, she periodically interrupted between courses of treatment, and at some point even underwent chemotherapy. One bright spot came in January 2018 when Ramirez finally obtained US citizenship and planned to travel home to her home province in the Philippines to reunite with her mother for the first time in 25 years.

Her mother died shortly before her arrival.

“How many years have I never seen her?” Ramirez said, covering his face with both hands, tears streaming down her cheeks. “I am so sad – very, very sad.”

She spent this winter in the Philippines, trying to follow the advice of doctors so as not to worry and enjoy the warm weather. The next fall, an unexpected bright spot erupted: through friends from the church, she met a man, and they began to talk every day. After a few months of dating, they got married.

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It was that sense of cheerfulness that Das and the rest of the SVILC team noticed when they first met Ramirez, she said: Even as her physical capabilities diminished, Ramirez was determined to find ways to expand her world, whether it was attending church services daily. FaceTim with her husband in the Philippines before bed and having dinner with friends.

“Even though I’m in this situation, I really, really want to live a normal life like everyone else,” Ramirez said.

Working together under the Federal Disability Assistance Program, Section 811, SVILC managed to secure Ramirez a two-bedroom apartment in San Jose, and in August she relocated from a skilled nursing facility. Since then, the cozy apartment she shares with the caretaker has been meticulously decorated and complemented by a large portrait of the lush island with a waterfall that reminds her of the Philippines.

But this dependence on others creates constant problems: sometimes the van that brings Ramirez to and from dialysis is late, forcing the center to interrupt her treatment. On other occasions, he drops her outside of her apartment building, too far to walk down the long hallway to the elevator without assistance.

“I’m crying, but I need to be patient,” Ramirez said of the cases. “I can not do anything. Just be patient and keep talking to the right person who can help me. “

Wish Book: After Chronic Illness, San Jose Woman Seeks Independence Help
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 12: Afternoon light illuminates Nerissa Ramirez as she spends time in her new apartment in San Jose, California on October 12, 2021 (Dai Sugano / Bay Area News Group)

Ramirez and Das turn to Wish Book readers to secure her first motorized wheelchair, which ensures Ramirez is never stranded outside of her apartment. And to make it easier to get to and from dialysis sessions, they also need help getting a hand-operated vehicle for repairs.

And one more thing: a plane ticket for her husband to emigrate from the Philippines. Ramirez, who had already been approved as his sponsor, glanced fondly at the bench she had placed in the kitchen so that they could dine side by side.

Until he arrives, she said, she will remain “positive, positive, positive.”

“Whatever happens, it has already happened,” Ramirez said. “We have to keep moving.”

Wish Book: After Chronic Illness, San Jose Woman Seeks Independence Help
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 12: Nerissa Ramirez talks to her husband who lives in the Philippines at his new apartment in San Jose on October 12, 2021 (Dai Sugano / Bay Area News Group)

The Wish Book is an annual Mercury News series that invites readers to help their neighbors.

The donation will help Nerissa Ramirez, a client of the Center for Independent Living in Silicon Valley, buy a motorized bariatric wheelchair, reclining chair, a used manual car, and a one-way ticket from the Philippines to San Jose. Target: $ 23,700.

Donate at wishbook.mercurynews.com or mail the coupon.

Read more stories from the Wishbook, view photos and videos at wishbook.mercurynews.com.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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