Saturday, March 7, 2015

Broken Ruins

Enduring the fight for long term survival is hard enough, but one of the most devastating factors can often have nothing to do with your actual trauma or illness. Surviving can be very expensive. The cost is a crisis in itself. It is traumatizing, adding unbelievable amounts of stress and anxiety to an already overwhelming situation.

Treatments cost a lot of money. Time off from work stops the influx of money. Nest eggs evaporate, if you are lucky enough to even have a cushion. Co-pays add up quickly, if you are lucky enough to have insurance. Money dwindles very fast, especially when no more is coming in. Bills rack up even faster than money goes out. If you live paycheck to paycheck as many people do, even living hand to mouth becomes nearly impossible.

People do not want to talk money when faced with survival. From the surface, it seems trivial when your life, physical health, and emotional well being are at stake. But, I assure you, it is far from trivial.

It is not trivial when you are hurt and can't afford a doctor. It is not trivial when you are sick and can't pay for medicine. It is far from trivial to try to heal and not have enough money for food, heat, or rent. It is the opposite of trivial to have to work when you still hurt and working makes you sicker, impeding healing. There is absolutely nothing trivial about being destroyed by poverty while battling to stay alive. 

Let's be frank. Due to surviving, I owe hundreds of thousands of dollars. My finances are so annihilated, I can not get a credit card, buy a car, rent an apartment, or even be hired for jobs I am over qualified for, which could help me earn more money, solely because I can't pass the credit part of a background check. The anxiety and stress of where money is going to come from actually makes me physical sicker. The hard fact is, if I gave every penny I currently earn to paying off the monetary cost of my survival, it would take over ten years. Ten years. If they got every single penny. Ten years. Even if I never saw another doctor or took another pill. Ten years. Even if I didn't desperately need the money I am earning just to pay for the day to day stuff. TEN YEARS.

It is horrifying to realize fighting to live costs so much it insures you can't pay for any future life.

There are deeper levels to this burden as well. There is a great deal of shame, humiliation, sadness, and fear to it. You can feel desperate and greedy. Overwhelmed with complete feeling of failure and utter loss of self-worth. It makes you ugly. It can even make you regret surviving, because you come to view yourself as a burden.

I have sold off a lifetime of valued things for less money then some people spend on a pair of sneakers. I have had friends and family help pay bills, when they didn't have money to spare. I have had people buy groceries, when I had none. I have stood in lines at shelters when I had nothing to eat. I have made preparations to live in my car. I have been on the street asking for spare change when I didn't have a single dollar. I have eaten trash. I have huddled under blankets aching from the cold because I couldn't pay for heat. I have visited libraries and convenience stores to use the restrooms when I couldn't afford toilet paper or tampons. I have worked to keep money coming in until I literally couldn't walk and driven directly to emergency rooms for treatment upon ending my shift, only to spend the night and drive directly from the E.R. to work upon being released. It is beyond humbling. Beyond stressful and painful. It is crushing. It is wrong. It breaks you and leaves you in ruins.

There is assistance, but there are so many rules. In my case, my unruptured aneurysms made my treatment elective, even though I had a 100% chance of death if I didn't treat them. Yet, that disqualified me for a great deal of available assistance. There is bankruptcy, but there are laws and costs to that, which in many situations, like mine, do not make it an option. Fight for the help you need, whenever you can. Don't give up.

During your survival, there will be moments of hope that help is coming. If you are lucky enough to have help come, take it. Do not let pride get in the way. You will need all the help you can get. Simple or elaborate, these moments are beautiful in their kindness and selfless generosity. They are a quiet gift of peace and the ability to breathe for a moment. Be thankful.

But, there will also be the moments where you believed help was coming, that never actually came. These are the most devastating of all. 

They linger and send you spiraling into the darkest of despair, because there is a unique relief that comes with hope. It is indescribable to someone unless they have felt it themselves. And when that hope is taken away, it can actually send you to a place worse then you were in before you had the hope. A darkness that has weight. 

It will haunt you, but try to focus on what you can do next to get through it. Don't blame what you can not change.

It is very hard to survive. It is very expensive. It is not trivial. Poverty in health, emotions, and finances are devastating.The toll and the cost can not be merely measured in dollars. It is hard to hear and hard to talk about, but there is power in honesty. 

Don't let the shame destroy you. Don't be broken by the weight of it. We all have debts. We all make payments. We all struggle to make ends meet in one way or another. It is the price of surviving and it is worth it, even if you have to do it in installments. The layaway plan for life is worth investing in.

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