All Because I Got Sick

This will be my third attempt at writing this post. I’ve had two other drafts waiting for me to finish and edit, but neither of them felt right. That’s how it goes for me. That’s how I know I want to send one of my works out into the blogosphere. It feels right. For some reason, I can’t get this to feel right.

I’ve broached some pretty touchy subjects here. Politics and racism, the awful side effects of oral chemo, I’ve shown you all what my broken body looks like after having a tumor removed from it, and I’ve even discussed my astoundingly large urethra. This subject, though, might be the most touchy of all. Money. Or, in my case, a lack thereof.

This morning, as I sit on my porch and listen to the birds chirp and the fallish wind blow through the leaves on the trees, I’m waiting for word on the closing of my home in Florida. Today’s the big day I’ve been waiting months for. Of course, I’ve seen two deals fall through already, so I can’t take a breath until the money is in the bank.

Under most circumstances, the profit from the sale of our house would make me happy. Over the years that we owned it we watched the real estate market wax and wane. Our simple house has been worth way more and way less at any given time. But still, the money we will make now could have been a hefty addition to our savings account or served as a down payment on a new house here.

That won’t happen, though. Most of the money we make will go to debt, debt we incurred trying to kill the tumors in my leg. And even as I watch most of that money go out as soon as it comes in, I know I will still have more debt to pay off. All because I got sick.

I’ve had a hard time writing this piece because I don’t really want to tell you that I have credit card companies calling me every day. I don’t want to show you the stack of bills that I can’t pay. I don’t want you to know I have $5 in my savings account. It’s difficult to admit even to myself that all the work my husband has put into furthering his career feels like it’s been for naught all because I got sick.

I’d rather not tell you that last year I quit taking my oral chemo earlier than was prescribed because I was hoarding it. The money had all run out. The credit cards were all maxed. I knew when the new year came I would have no way of paying the $4300 deductible required to refill my chemo. So I filled all the prescriptions I could in the year my deductible was met and kept them hidden away in a cabinet. I was fortunate the tumor died when it did.

It’s much easier for me not to share the fact that I had no idea how I was going to keep my daughter in college this year. I don’t want to say that I’m more than 6 months past the time I was supposed to have an MRI. It’s hard for me to tell you I borrowed money from family to buy groceries last month. I don’t want to tell you any of this. I don’t want you to know.

But I have to because I’m not the only one.

Someone you know, someone you love, maybe someone you’d never expect is struggling because of the cost of healthcare. They’re delaying treatment or hoarding meds. They’re going without or falling behind. They’re failing to make ends meet and having to spread it all so thin. Someone you know has a house of cards that’s about to fall all because they got sick.

All my credit card bills are at least 60 days behind. I couldn’t pay my mortgage this month. My daughter needs money for tuition and books in just a few days. There is no more wiggle room. I can no longer rob Peter to pay Paul. The well has run dry. It all rides on this closing happening today. My entire financial future is in limbo all because I got sick.

After the three month mark on Nexavar, after three previous failures, before I left to find out if the fourth medication was the one that would work, I said a prayer. Since I don’t view God as my personal genie in a lamp, I didn’t ask God to give me good news. I asked God to make me more empathetic. No matter what news I was going to hear, I wanted something good to come out of it.

This morning I said a prayer, before dawn broke on the day that will determine how I move forward. I didn’t ask God to make the closing happen. I didn’t pray to not have to claim bankruptcy. I asked to be grateful, no matter the outcome. Let me be gracious, God, and let me be grateful.

I am grateful. I’m grateful for the people that helped us get the house together to sell. I’m grateful for friends that let me cry on their shoulder when I felt hopeless. I’m grateful for family that has lifted us up. I’m grateful for this blog that has been the greatest distraction from the heartbreak of watching our life slowly slide into a financial abyss.

It has been almost a year since I heard the words I’d long to hear for so very long. Your tumor is dead. I’ve never been able to celebrate it. I’ve never been able to exhale. I’ve never in all those months been able to relax. There was still so much to be done, a mountain of debt that had yet to be conquered. All because I got sick.

I have come to a certain place of acceptance. I don’t wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat anymore. I get the mail regularly now, instead of avoiding it for weeks, and sift through the stack of bills I may never be able to pay. After today, we will either have money in the bank and will begin the arduous task of cleaning up this mess or we will begin making the steps to claim bankruptcy.

I can tell you about the physical pain. I can show you my scars. You can read about the mental and emotional swings that have plagued me since my diagnosis. I have been able to let you in on that because those are the side effects of illness that are unavoidable. But this, this is avoidable. This is the post I didn’t want to write, I couldn’t make feel right, because it’s the post I shouldn’t have to write.

I shouldn’t have to tell you I’m broke all because I got sick.

(A few hours after completing this post I received word that the closing went well. Financial clean up has already begun.) 


*Featured image courtesy of Pixabay