Time for Me: Money Forgotten

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I had survived the first two treatments. I had survived! That’s all I can remember. I believe that the side effects were accumulative as some never went away but others got worse. This was a very emotional time. I didn’t process things well, was forgetful, and, as I said, cried easily.

Whenever we could, my husband took me to our camp. There’s nothing like northern Michigan, but spring is especially nice. Birds, wildlife, cold beer, and campfires. There was always work to do at camp, but we both found it refreshing and relaxing. So this was an escape that I looked forward to. Sometimes due to his work, we only had a quick overnight, but that was enough.

I realized that my time at work was becoming more difficult. I had trouble sleeping (even with the narcotic help), so I was tired all the time and again the thought-process things. My job requires concentration and attention to detail. I was thinking that my time was here and should consider stopping work for the rest of treatment.

This scared me. I felt that I was caving in, giving up. If I worked, I could ignore the cancer. I was afraid that if I left, I wouldn’t return. I didn’t want to leave, but I didn’t want to be there either. I remember walking into court one day and having absolutely no idea why I had went there! I was completely lost; I didn’t even remember driving! So it was at that time I decided to take the disability offered and take time for me.

I knew that I wouldn’t be hearing from my “friends,” I knew as soon as I walked out the door that I was on my own. People don’t want to deal with your issues. They have issues of their own and it’s easier to ignore those whose life seems more stressful than your own. There were one or two that I expected to keep in contact with and one particular lady who I truly felt was becoming my friend. I held on to that and hoped she would keep in touch. Then I walked out the door after signing endless papers allowing me to get paid (60 percent of my salary … wow) and continuing insurance.

Medical insurance and money was a huge part of this ordeal. Treatments were astronomical in price and although I have good insurance, my income was falling quickly and things became a bit stressful there. Always deciding what to pay and what to skip. Brian continued to work 45-50 hours a week and my union opened a policy for people to donate “paid time off” hours to those in need. Some people did donate hours to me and I am forever thankful. It was an anonymous gesture. I never knew who did this for me.

When you are as sick as I was, money was that last thing you wanted to be worried about. I had received plenty of the “explanation of benefit” statements from my insurance company. You know those things that say, “This is not a bill.” They explained what treatments I had, approved some in the future (gee, thanks) and showed what everything costs. If you are sick, DO NOT LOOK AT THESE! I repeat: DON’T LOOK! I was approaching $250,000 dollars in money paid out by my insurance, between what issues I had with my heart, all the tests, x-rays and blood work, the numerous surgeries, the balance of treatments to come, the bone marrow booster shot was $1500 itself and I had six of them! When I looked at those, I completely broke down in a crying fit and financial tailspin. I knew I didn’t have to pay them … but holy crap, how can this not upset someone?

My husband took over the daily duties of opening mail and paying bills. All the financial issues of our family fell on his shoulders. This was something that I always did, not because he couldn’t but because that’s just the way it worked out over the years. He made the stand, took it over, juggled everything, just so I wouldn’t ever even have the chance to look at what this has cost. He said to me way after the fact that he thought sure I was going to faint or have another heart attack if I continued to look at these statements.

Three treatments down …

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