Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Costly Health Issues Keep Ex-Chef from Work He Loves

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Costly Health Issues Keep Ex-Chef from Work He Loves

Article excerpt

SERIES: SEASON OF SHARING

SEASON OF SHARING: Local charity gives David Luiggi help with bills and rent

David and Ana Luiggi were married 33 years ago this month. Over the past five, Ana has had to live up to the marriage vows she made as a 23-year-old.

"She didn't choose this ride; it was supposed to be different," David said.

In 2007, a bout of pneumonia changed the Luiggis' lives permanently. David's pneumonia led to congestive heart failure, which led to diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney problems and gout.

Over the course of treatment, Luiggi also had to deal with the consequences of two company recalls: first on his heart defibrillator, which needed to be replaced, and second on his diabetes medication, Avandia, which led to further cardiac issues.

A former chef used to working 50 to 60 hours a week, Luiggi is now scheduling medications instead of banquets. Between physical limitations, 11 prescriptions a day and up to three doctor visits a week, it is impossible to hold a job.

"David doesn't want to be in that situation," said Donna Dettman, his Salvation Army case manager. "He wishes someone could fix his heart so he could go back to work doing what he loves."

Luiggi's heart is not yet well enough to sustain the two additional surgeries he needs, let alone the physical demands of managing a kitchen or any other job. He has been demoted, let go and not hired since having health problems, and says those who have hired him unaware of his problems notice quickly when he can't lift a 30-pound box.

His income has dropped from $50,000 a year to zero. The couple now live on Ana's $11-an-hour wage. Insurance and medication alone cost $550 a month, and medical bills have depleted their savings.

"We always lived comfortable. If Ana wanted to get a haircut, she could," Luiggi said. "But that hasn't happened in years; I cut her hair now."

Even basic nutrition can be a financial burden when a person is diabetic. Luiggi visits local food banks but says they can't accommodate his needs. …

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