FAIR LAWN, N.J. — Nicole Fiduccia DeFontes of Fair Lawn has suffered three strokes since May that she knows of.
The single mom of two has adrenal adenomas — tumors in her adrenal glands — which cause an over-secretion of hormones leading to high blood pressure and strokes.
Each time it happened, DeFontes was hospitalized. And each time, she was discharged without a plan because she doesn't have insurance.
After the second stroke, the 44-year-old woke up in a hospital bed at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center, and was told that medicaid had dropped her, too.
The fact that she suffers from a very rare condition paired with her lack of insurance makes it difficult for her to get the treatment that she needs.
"It's a struggle to make ends meet all around," said DeFontes, who has been living off of child support as she has not been able to continue working, or even drive.
"I walk around and I can have another stroke at any time. It was difficult before but it's worse now."
Nearly $3,000 had been raised as of Thursday afternoon on a GoFundMe for DeFontes.
DeFontes was diagnosed with the adenomas in 2010.
She's been on the only medication for her condition that medicaid will accept for years, and although doctors have tried adrenal sampling numerous times, nothing seems to be working.
Her only option is surgery, but without health insurance, that's not possible.
Last Sunday, DeFontes went to the emergency room at The Valley Hospital because she felt like she was having another stroke. She was sent home after nothing came up on a CAT scan, but woke up to a police officer at her door at 3:30 that morning because a mistake was made at the hospital, and she needed to go back.
DeFontes is still waiting for the results to see if she suffered another stroke this week.
Her condition is steadily worsening, and it's getting more and more difficult to keep up with day-to-day tasks.
"I live with my mom who is living off of social security, and I'm not even sure I can get disability," said DeFontes, formerly a nurse. "My focus has been getting medicaid back."
Mount Sinai hospital in New York City seems to be DeFontes' only hope. But without insurance, there's not much she can do.
"The healthcare system is flawed," she said. "People need to get discharged with a plan."
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