A couple years ago, during a routine exam, my doctor discovered a large, benign tumor in my uterus. What happened next is kind of a long story but the short version is, I went to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota to try a new treatment that was not available locally. My insurance company gave their blessing but after the consultation and two surgical procedures that were supposed to shrink the tumor the insurance company decided not to pay. I appealed several times but lost each round. A year later, when it was determined that I was Mayo Clinic’s first failure with this treatment, I had surgery to remove the then melon sized tumor. That surgery didn’t go too well, either, and my doctor had no choice but to perform a hysterectomy. I was in the hospital longer than expected, and I went home with a catheter that required expensive follow up care.
Three years later, I’m still paying on those bills, and I’m only half way done.
When I found out Mayo had accepted me into their program, I found an online job that I could do part time to help defer the cost of my outpatient expenses. I figured I’d keep the job for a few months after my surgeries to earn some extra cash so that when I was finally feeling better Walker and I could take a little get away. I liked it because I could decide when, and how much, I wanted to work. Of course, the more I work the more I earn. I still have that job, and it’s more or less full time now.
A while back I took a couple days off from both my jobs to hang out with Miss Diva before she heads back to school. It was wonderful to have full, long days to do whatever we wanted. I realized that this time is just too short; pretty soon my little girl will be too grown to want to hang out with her old auntie. The boys, too. Already Cubby has stared to shun hugs. I knew I had to find a way to scale back on my work hours before it was too late to enjoy these last years of childhood before I’m faced with a pack of moody teenagers. Then, this week, I got the estimate from the roofer to fix the hail damage from the big storm we had this spring. The estimate is way more than the insurance company gave me. And I officially surrendered the battle.
Twenty odd years ago, I started a savings account that I called my safety net. I didn’t have much money but I put a little something in it, every single month, for fifteen years. I have never made a withdrawal. I have another savings account that I use to save up for specific “things”, like home improvements or unexpected expenses. I have a third that Walker and I use just for vacations. But the safety net is different. It was my “If I lose my job and can’t make the house payment” security blanket. The emergency fund that all financial gurus insist you have. The thing is, they never really tell you what constitutes an emergency. Well, I’ll tell you: in my house, it’s realizing that you will be working two full time jobs for the next three or four years, at least, while your borrowed children grow up in another room. It’s realizing that you haven’t been to a movie with your sweetie in over two years because you are both always working. It’s trying to decide just how much more money to put into repairs for your twelve year old car. It’s hoping your ancient furnace holds out, just a few more winters. It’s opening an estimate from the roofer and feeling like you might, literally, be sick.