Hello again you wondrous mommy go getters.
How do we do this? Juggling school, dreams, work, doctors visit, chronic problems and pets and friends and…pant…pant…breathing?
It’s T-minus 1 and 1/2 weeks till I drop out of the work-a-day world and go solo. I still don’t have my office done, I still need another bank account. My bank books are a little behind. My new website design and business cards are a bit lacking. Why yes! I know there is currently blue links on my new blue website. I promise I’m working on it. Really. I’m also behind in getting my soon-to-be-former company settled and transitioned. Plus they need me to save them from themselves by Friday afternoon. Can you say Backup Frenzy 2010?
Despite all of this I feel pretty confident. There is one looming problem that I’m not sure how I’m going to deal.
This is part of why working from home writing is so good. I can do it when I’m sick. In fact I generally work when I’m sick on my freelance web design, writing and video game playing. Don’t laugh, I write about games…I kind of have to play them. Don’t hate me.
But as I said, I’m sick. I have hypothyroidism and PCOS both of which are medicated and under control. Recently I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Worse, I’m under a current attack from my apparently chronic kidney stone problem.
What’s the bestest part about all this besides the fact that none of this will actually kill me? It’s all considered pre-existing conditions, or in the case of PCOS automatic denial for new insurance. This came as surprise to me too considering my PCOS has been covered by insurance for the last two and half years. I only found out as I began to look at self-employment insurance options. The only insurance I qualify for is catastrophic insurance which is high deductible or high monthly payment. Neither of this options are affordable or worth the effort. So what do you do in this situation when you’re not in a country that has universal health care? Consider your options:
If you have the money get started with a HSA.
A health savings account allows you take out money before taxes to save for health costs you know you’ll have. You’ll need a couple thousand dollars to start one and there are some hefty rules to follow.
Talk to your doctor.
Some doctors will work with their patients by setting up payment plans, finding affordable medications or getting you in touch with organizations that can help. Some will even give you discounts as long as you need them. Check out hospitals in your area, in case you need hospital services. While the non-profit might have high marks, it might charge thousands of dollars for the same procedure that the local urgent care only charges a couple hundred for and does better. Trust me, I owe over $20,000 to a local non-profit hospital for a two hour morphine drip that the urgent care only charged $600 for and treated me much better too (the non-profit called me a drug dealer, even with the CAT scans showing kidney stones).
Put the money away yourself.
Save the money you’d be sending to insurance in a regular account for doctor’s fees and medications. You won’t get the HSA benefits but you will have some money for when things come.
Don’t get behind.
If you do have to deal with an expensive illness, setup payment plans right away. If you don’t you will incur insane charges. Question you bills. Don’t let them bully you and don’t take out another loan to deal with it if you can help it.
See if your children qualify for any state health programs.
While you might not qualify, your children might. A lot of companies won’t insure children if their parents are not on the account. But if you have no other options for them a lot of states have CIP offerings.
Finally, do what you can. I’m lucky. My medications are cheap and I only need to see my doctor every few months. I know what to do if I have an attack or feel lousy. Plus I can keep working. Making the decision to go without insurance can be scary but it can be done. And frankly, your not alone. I have had insurance for the past 12 years non-stop but they still won’t cover the stuff I have. So I’m used to paying the bills. Life gets you sometimes, but you don’t have to let it get you down. My decision to follow my dream and not be held hostage by the insurance company isn’t a light one, but I feel it’s the right one. This might not be your only option, especially if you have a spouse with a regular job. Check each option carefully and make the decision that’s right for you.
Those of you who have been getting to know me here may have begun to notice a certain tendency toward being a wee-bit cock-eyed or shall we say, taking a lot of left turns off path. I think I read that old Robert Frost poem at a very young age and have taken the path less travelled in virtually everything I do ever since. Like trying to finish my book for instance, and all the various things I can so easily find to distract myself from doing so.
So there I was sitting at the back of S’s Taekwando class when Master Ko offered a sign-up sheet to the students for their parents for a free tai chi class at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning. Master Ko and I have a lot of difficulty in communication. He apologizes for his ‘bad English’ and I apologize for too many rock shows in my youth leaving me relatively deaf at a relatively young age. Rarely do I come away from a conversation having completely understood what has transpired. I’m still not exactly certain the cost of S’s class from month to month, but he just smiles and takes my check, no matter what I make it out for.
Saturday, I arrived at 7:45 a.m. No one there, door locked, and my coffee hit. I really needed to pee. So I darted back home (around the corner, so to speak) and wondered if I should have shown up next week. Darn, when I was signing up with wiggly C on my lap, I didn’t look at the top of the page, either. When 8 a.m. rolled around, I hopped back in the minivan, and darted back around the corner. Four vehicles were in the lot, but still the doors were locked, and aren’t martial artists known for their punctuality? Could it be I am merely one among dingbats, or did Master Ko have an emergency this particular morning?
Well, I made a few cell phone calls, deleted some voicemails. I watched a couple of people start half-hearted and conversant stretching exercises outside the door. 8:30 a.m. rolled around and well, I needed to pee again. OK, I know — tmi — but these things are important considerations in about a year’s time after having a baby, when you’ve already had other kids, too. I got out of the van, practically dancing, to talk with the one guy who had a black belt, and he suggested we could go around the side of the building where he could get us started on some tai chi in the grass while we wait for Master Ko. So I corralled other reluctant participants from their vehicles, and we did just that. I was nervous the whole time that I would pee my pants with the exercises, but I survived by looking at my watch every thirty seconds or so. At 9 a.m. I asked, ‘do you think he’s here yet?’ It had been indicated earlier that he usually arrives by 9 for another tai chi class on Saturdays. Black Belt Guy peeked around the corner, and yes, Master Ko was unlocking the doors.
After my run to the ladies room, and I do mean run, The Four Dingbats and Master Ko straightened out the confusion re: the free class for parents of students business that was to start the following week to last through next month. Of course, I will be out of town for the ‘first’ class. Master Ko kindly merged the Dingbats into his usual 9 a.m. tai chi class, of which only one participant had shown up. He was very informative and really tweaked us into the proper positions. When all was said and done, I ended up with a 90-min intense beginner tai chi work out. It really cleared my head, felt great, and set me up for a day to prepare for that night’s slumber party of half a dozen 13-14 year old young men. I survived the party, too, even with the all-out Nerf gun war occurring at 1am.
Bottom line? I highly recommend tai chi for all of us who have been having difficulty getting that last 10-20 pounds off, or those of us with achy joints, or bad backs, or saggy mommy bellies. It’s a great all-around workout combining stretching, cardio, and strengthening exercise all at once, and works the core most of all. Throw out the dreaded treadmill, it’s collecting dust anyway. The weights and the exercise ball are taking up room in a corner or your gym membership is ignored. The yoga tapes are also collecting dust. And best of all, once you get the hang of it, tai chi is easy enough to do for the rest of your life. I know. I have had elderly Chinese neighbors in most of my condo complexes and even in this single family home neighborhood throughout my adult life. Even on chill winter mornings, they are outside, even up in their nineties, making slow graceful circles with their arms, cutting through their clouds of breath.
I find, if I keep myself moving, it keeps the cobwebs out of my mind, so the muse doesn’t get hung up in them. I can make the connections between where I left off and what needs to occur next in my manuscript. So, for all us sedentary writer types, I really do recommend some kind of movement, and having tried it all, tai chi seems the best option so far.
I know most people feel toward yard work the way I feel about dentists. I’d rather let my teeth rot in my mouth than go and deal with the dentist head on, mouth open. But I love yard work, especially now, for a few reasons.
Last Saturday, I did a lot of yard work. I cut back the crazy roses and repaired the trellis for this year’s crop, and reset it so they won’t grow up into the siding. I cut back the holly that has no business being taller than me or overwhelming the rest of the front landscaping. It was a great day to be wearing a thick old Irish fisherman’s wool sweater and a good pair of gardening gloves, as I dealt with all those thorny things. I dug the tarp out of the dirt pile that never really made it behind the back fence into the gardens and has started growing into a grassy knoll at the side of the garage. I loaded thorny things galore onto the tarp. I dragged it to the fence and headed out back for more branches and brambles.
I removed all the branches from the old pine mulch pile I started the first autumn in the house. From under those branches, etc, is now a beautiful bed of piney compost, and later I consulted with the garden center lady about what would grow in a shady piney corner, and think I came up with a new corner of interest plan. But first I moved those branches as well as fodder from the surrounding trees into the wheelbarrow, wheeled it over to the fence and lifted it all over and threw it on the tarp. I then dragged the tarp to the driveway, and put the Christmas tree and wreath that the garbage company wouldn’t take away for three weeks, and added that to the tarp. Then I recruited my dear Honey’s aid to remove the seat in my van and get the tarpful of yard waste into the back of the van and took it all to the dump. In the end we had to tie the tree to the top, but hey, we got a lot done. Er, I got a lot done in the yard. He helped at the end. There was no wind and it was about forty degrees — a lovely day to work up a sweat outside and have cool fresh air to breathe.
While I was out there, somehow my mind cleared and I didn’t even have to think about the novel or the kids or my Honey or not having an income. I just enjoyed being out there and communing with my piece of suburban Mother Nature. I like to think I made her a little prettier and she appreciated it. I definitely got the scragglies out of her hair.
The next morning in the shower, it occurred to me that one year ago I went to church with a walker. I was seven months pregnant and had no business with my complications getting out of bed to do anything. I had the wheelchair in the back of my van, but I refused to use it. I dragged my son K along and he helped me in and out, carried my purse and bottle of water, held doors, etc. It was also the first time I attended that church, but I was in serious need of some spiritual gathering and to get out of my stir-crazy bed.
So last Sunday, I ended up crying in front of the whole congregation that I’m just starting to get to know, about how far I’ve come from not walking to yard work since my first appearance there last February. I proclaimed in front of all with shaky voice and tear-filled eyes, “I know most people view yard work as a curse, but to me it is a blessed thing — especially since I was able to clear my yard by myself yesterday.” I think I was trying to say, don’t take things for granted, because you have a home, you can bend over and pick up sticks in your yard. It’s the simple things in life we must always appreciate. But I blubbered.
Then Monday, mind uncluttered, I sat down to write as soon as Baby C was asleep. Everything flowed beautifully. I was able to get my main character out of his clammed up state and began to resolve his issues and get him some confidence. Or the start of it, anyway. Then Baby C woke, but I nursed her back down a little and was able to plot out the wrap up of the book in one-liners for the coming scenes. I wrote a solid five pages of the manuscript then plotted the rest out!
Chipper from my productivity, I washed the dishes, loaded the dishwasher, handed the baby to grandma when she came home so that I could clean the kitchen. Then I promptly readied the stroller and leash and took baby and dog and me for a good refreshing walk. I saw cormorants and geese in the lake at my little bench, where I chugged my bottle of water and gave Baby C her juice. When she and Lucy started showing their signs of restlessness (such as dropping cup off side of stroller into goose poo), I hopped up and took off for home. I haven’t hopped up since well before I was pregnant! She was 10 months old as of Sunday, and I can now hop up, in spirit, in yard work, and in my writing. That’s why I love yard work. It feels good to accomplish something physically. It frees your mind and spring is on its way, so I get to garden again. And as long as I can garden, the writing and a whole lot else seem to come much easier.
From yesterday’s Boston Globe:
WHILE POLICY WONKS debate how to deliver high-quality healthcare without skyrocketing costs, here’s one opportunity for some cheap, evidence-based medicine. In a recent study, 36 men were asked to write for 20 minutes on three consecutive days. Half the men had to write about their deepest emotions related to a traumatic experience, and the other half had to write about time management. Several weeks later, all the men were given a standard skin biopsy wound. After another couple weeks, the men who had written about the traumatic experience were healing significantly better. It’s believed that writing about a traumatic experience has a latent emotional impact that benefits the immune system.
Weinman, J. et al., “Enhanced Wound Healing after Emotional Disclosure Intervention,” British Journal of Health Psychology (February 2008).
Hmmm….maybe that’s one reason why morning pages are so good for you…?
So says the Boston Globe:
SOME RESEARCH HAS found that expressive writing has positive effects on both mind and body. Two psychologists decided to see if even a fleeting episode of writing could make a difference. College students were given just two minutes on two consecutive days to write about a traumatic experience, a positive experience, or a prosaic topic. A month later, the students were asked to report symptoms of ill health. Students who had written about emotionally charged experiences — either positive or negative — reported fewer health complaints than the others.
Burton, C. and King, L., “Effects of (Very) Brief Writing on Health: The Two-Minute Miracle,” British Journal of Health Psychology (February 2008).