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Porochista Khakpour, sick with Lyme disease, asks for help

August 16, 2012|by Carolyn Kellogg
  • Porochista Khakoour when her first novel, "Sons and Other Flammable Objects," was published.
Porochista Khakoour when her first novel, "Sons and Other Flammable… (Glenn Koenig )

Facing mounting medical bills, writer Porochista Khakpour is reaching out online to readers and friends for help. The Los Angeles-based writer, the author of the acclaimed 2007 novel "Sons and Other Flammable Objects," has been diagnosed with late-stage Lyme disease.

On the crowdsourcing website GoFundMe, Khakpour writes: "A few weeks ago, after months of going to doctors and hospitals, I was diagnosed with late-stage Lyme Disease -- either a relapse of a condition I believed I was treated for in 2009 or a brand-new infection (nature-lovers never learn!) I was hospitalized in Germany for several days in March (where I had been a guest professor) and then at Cedar Sinai in May and nobody could figure out what was wrong with me.... I have been mostly bedridden for the last months (though been fighting this) and things are rapidly advancing--I am now I am having extreme trouble with my digestive system (can't swallow solid foods properly) on top of other problems. I'm trying to afford the type of IV antibiotic therapy that this condition now warrants and to move to a city where I can be properly treated by an LLMD (the one recommended is $280 an hour)."

Khakpour, who is in her early 30s, has taught all over the place. In addition to her recent stint in Germany, her website lists Johns Hopkins University, Hofstra University, Bucknell University, Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Fairfield University’s MFA program, the Gotham Writers Workshop, the University of Tampa's low residency MFA program, Cleveland State University's Imagination Conference and the Taos Summer Writers' Conference. She has received a number of fellowships, including a recent one from the National Endowment for the Arts.

A novelist starting out is a peripatetic creature, moving from one short-term position to another while trying to complete her own creative work. And as such, healthcare options are often intermittent and expensive.

"I have nearly $20,000 of bills from ER visits and hospitalizations and alternative therapies and we've JUST begun to understand my diagnosis, meaning the costs won't end soon," she writes. "I desperately want to make it past this and get back to the swing of things--but I currently don't know how to afford recovery."

Khakpour is hoping to raise $18,000. So far, she has received donations of almost $6,000.

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