Woman hit by lightning struggling to make ends meet after injuries

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CALHAN, Colo. -- A Colorado woman is lucky to be alive after lightning struck her in the head two weeks ago at the El Paso County Fair.

“All you could hear is a loud pop. I thought somebody had shot me,” Josh Seel said.

He brought his wife and three children to the El Paso County Fair to enjoy the day. He said it was a sunny day, with a few clouds in the distance. All of a sudden, lightning struck seemingly out of nowhere.

“All I could see was white and I felt my body tense up,” he said.

His wife, Allison, was struck in the head. The lightning hit the back of her head, traveled down her right arm and out her hand, which was holding her children’s stroller.

“She had no pulse. She wasn’t breathing,” Josh Seel said. "Just laying there stiff as can be.”

Seel immediately started CPR as others called 911. Allison Seel had to be airlifted to the burn unit at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood.

She suffered third-degree burns, ruptured ear drums and had nerve damage. Aside from some possible long-term nerve damage, Allison Seel is expected to make a full recovery.

But the Seels told the FOX31 Denver Problem Solvers that their hospital stay isn’t covered by their insurance. Allison Seel has Medicaid and veteran’s insurance. The couple said when they presented her medical cards, Swedish refused them.

“I go, 'Do you want our insurance cards?' They go, 'Who do you have?' I told her and she goes we don’t work with them,” Josh Seel said.

The Problem Solvers reached out to Swedish Medical Center to ask about the Seels' claim that the hospital refused their insurance. A spokeswoman told Fox 31 that Swedish Medical Center is accredited by Medicaid and never turn patients away based on the ability to pay. The hospital also says it is unclear how much the family will owe to providers, since the final bill is still being processed.

The Seels worry they won't be able to pay the medical bills because they can barely make ends meet now.

Josh Seel can’t work because he is having a series of several back surgeries. Allison Seel can’t work because of the lightning strike.

On top of all that, they have a 15-month-old daughter with special needs. The little girl has a rare genetic condition that requires six doctor visits per week.

“Our last thoughts were, I could start donating plasma around her appointments,” Josh Seel said. “Anything to start doing bills.”

Until the bills start rolling in, the family is focusing on Allison Seel's recovery.

“It’s a lot of pain. I overdo it during the day and I cry at night. But it’s worth it,” Allison Seel said through tears.

It’s worth it because she has three children and a husband who need her. She has so much to live for, even if she has nothing else.

“We’ll make it somehow, but it’s extremely rough,” she said. “We try to make every day worth a smile.”

Allison Seel's friends set up a GoFundMe account that she can use to cover medical expenses and other bills.

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