When she opened the letter that came in the mail, Michelle Zacharia burst into tears. For 20 years, the self-employed artist had suffered terrifying symptoms. She couldn't leave the house. She couldn't socialize. She had anxiety attacks. At times she couldn't eat. "I kept imagining my brain was disintegrating," she said, remembering the dark days.
She went to different specialists, tried different therapies and medications. "I exhausted all the drugs and started trying natural remedies and therapies."
Still, she lived in constant terror. "I spent my entire adult life coping instead of living. I kept wondering, ‘How many years until I die?' I spent my life counting the seconds before I could die."
Three years ago, she started experiencing more symptoms: insomnia, joint pain, a mental "fogginess" and memory issues. Someone referred her to Christine Inguanzo, M.D., a physician at the Alegent Creighton Clinic La Vista who specializes in family medicine. Dr. Inguanzo treated her for an autoimmune disease that is often misdiagnosed as depression. Zacharia's world changed.
"She is my angel!" she said. Now she could look in the mirror and smile at herself: "'Oh, I know you, You've been there the whole time!' It was the most natural thing in the world."
During the rough times, Zacharia didn't have the money to pay for her doctors' visits and numerous medications. She applied to Alegent Creighton Health for financial assistance. She was granted 100 percent coverage.
Then that one day she went to the mailbox. "I get this check. It says, ‘We have found an overpayment on your account.'" The check was made out to her for thirty dollars for a co-pay that she paid for but wasn't required to.
Zacharia was stunned. "Not only was Alegent Creighton Health assisting me financially and helping me get better, they were giving me money back. Are you kidding me?"
She pointed to a display of colorful wearable art that she'd created and was now selling online. "Now I can be just like everyone else." She teared up again."They saved my life and gave me the sweetest, kindest doctor in the world. Thank you!"
She doesn't plan on ever cashing the check.