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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Angela Dixon is a teacher at the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami-Dade.

She hasn’t been paid since December 22nd.

On top of struggling to pay the bills, she is caring for her husband Willie, who is immobile and in dire need of a new heart.

“The machine is connected to his heart and keeps it beating,” said Dixon, referring to the machines connected to her husband’s body. “We have to check his temperature and blood pressure.”

The two moved together to Homestead about 5 years ago.

“We met on Facebook,” laughed Dixon.

Soon after their love story began, Willie showed signs of congestive heart failure.

First, his heart valve had to be replaced with a ventricular assist device.

In 2016, he developed blood clots and had to stop working. In 2017, he had a stroke and now can no longer walk.

Dixon said the stroke also bumped Willie off the heart transplant waiting list.

“It’s extremely hard [with] one income,” said Dixon. Willie’s disability insurance is used to pay for a nurse.

Now that one income the Dixons desperately need isn’t coming.

“I’ve been going to work with no pay,” said Dixon.

“She’s a mother [too and] always running in and out because of emergencies,” said Kareen Troitino, Dixon’s colleague and president of their local union. “She’s very tough about it and I know deep down, she has a lot of stress and she recently developed health issues herself.”

Somehow, Dixon finds a way to look at the positives. Willie gets to be home and not the hospital during the shutdown. She is also thankful for disability insurance.

“I know there are people with different situations going on,” said Dixon. “For the couples that both work for the government, it’s extremely hard when there’s nothing.”

Dixon said if the shutdown continues too long, she will have to stay home from work so they can use the disability insurance to pay for bills instead of a nurse.

Troitino adds that the more employees aren’t showing up to work as the shutdown continues. He worries that if it continues on for too long, there will be an even bigger national security problem at the federal prisons than what has been happening with TSA at airports.

Frances Wang

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