Stroke Victim at 49

30 September 2011

To Smoke or Not to Smoke

I quit smoking on May 11th of 2011. It was a difficult thing to do but it was time. I had been smoking since the age of 14. That was 27 years of smoking under my belt. It was time to quit. I used Nicorette lozenges for 9 weeks and was done. Since going off of the lozenges over two months ago, I have not been able to stop eating. Even when I am so full that I am sick I still feel this emptiness inside. Nothing seems to fill it.

This past week has been extremely difficult and trying. All I think about all day and night long is the pure joy of a cigarette. I really don't want to go back to smoking but the only fulfillment I can have is with a cigarette. Yesterday I decided to use lozenges for awhile until this stress goes away. I have to say, the second that nicotine hit my system, life seemed worth living again, for awhile. I know it is weak but I'd rather do this than pick up a cigarette. It took all I had to break the psychological oral fixation of smoking. I do not want to go back. But this demon nicotine is the one thing that keeps me from going over the edge.

28 September 2011

The Great Depression of the 2010's musings part 3-Medicaid, Medicare, Disability, and Unemployment for the under 50 crowd

I have had one of the worst days in quite sometime. I was informed early this afternoon that because our son turned 18 we were no longer eligible for Medicaid. My son will have Medicaid until his 19th birthday but my husband and I are SOL. Here are the life events that happened last year:

June 2010-Laid off as a Teacher
July-November 2010-Paying full price for medications. Husbands pain meds for diabetic neropathy was at $200 a month for the one med.
October 2010-Husband suffers a Bell's Palsy episode. Taken to County (No CAT-Scan was done)
October-November 2010-Pay full office visit price for eye specialist (4 times)
November 2010 (Sunday after Thanksgiving)-Husband has a stroke
November 2010-December 2010(2 Days before Christmas)-Husband hospitalized. Loses mobility and function on entire left side.
January 2011-(2 weeks after release and stayed for a week)-Husband re-admitted to hospital because of blood clots in leg. Put on blood thinners for the rest of his life.

Flash forward to today. My husband was approved for Disability at age 49. He is still slowly recovering. He needs physical and occupational therapy twice a week and to visit the coumidin clinic for his blood thinner levels once a month. Not to mention the 16 medications he is on.

Social Security told me he is not eligible for Medicare until 24 months after he was approved for Disability. That means we have to wait until November 29th of 2012 before he can have medical benefits. EVERYTHING will be out of pocket. 

How can they honestly think that Disability and Unemployment make for rolling in the cash? They do not take into consideration that rent takes almost half of all of the money that comes into the house. We have NOTHING and yet they don't even want my husband to have a chance to live? We cannot afford 16 medications. Some of them will be covered under the Walgreen or Walmart plans of $4 meds but there are so many he will no longer be able to take because of what? 

I have been loosing it after every call. My eyes are so big and puffy. I have no idea what we are going to do. We have no one to help. I have never felt so alone in my life.

24 September 2011

The Great Depression of the 2010's musings part 2-The Debt Collectors

I really miss the comedian Bill Hicks. He would have had a political field day during last decade. I thought of his bit he does about people in advertising (I will put the link at the end of this post) and often feel that way about people in debt collections.

I don't know what personal experiences are out there. I have only my own which are true horror show. It is disgusting how you are treated by these people. I understand people have a job to do but you cannot squeeze blood from a turnip. When the calls first began I answered them. I was not trying to get out of my responsibilities, I was simply living on unemployment for a family of 3. Silly me, I thought I could explain to them how we had no money and how I'd paid my student loans religiously for 6 years and had every intention of paying them once I had a job again. Instead of working with me they still demanded the monthly minimum and said the most insulting things:

"Don't you have someone you can borrow the money from?"

(After explaining that my husband had just had a stroke and I can't even pay utilities. I have to pick which utility I can pay on any given month) 

"Your student loan is just as important and your utilities." 
(Is it really? Will my student loan keep the lights on?)

"This will lower your credit score."
(Really? I had no idea being in object poverty would do that to you)

I have stopped answering the phone. Each debtor calls an average of 5-6 times a day. My phone rings all of the time. Every time I hear it I cringe. It is beyond misery or depression. I am sure the majority of people who are the debt collectors list are like I am. They want to pay for what they owe but do not have the jobs to afford to. It makes life so much more humiliating and depressing when you know the phone ringing is yet another person demanding what you do not have. It is humiliating for my son to hear what a failure his mother is with every ring of the phone.

 Biil Hicks-Marketing

Most Americans are but a few paychecks away from where I am. I wouldn't wish this on anybody.

Bill Hicks on Marketing

Complaints spike over debt collectors - Chicago Sun-Times

Complaints spike over debt collectors - Chicago Sun-Times

I have thought this for years. There is nothing more frustrating than being out with a friend and the little chirp goes off. Immediately they check their text and respond. This happens throughout the visit. Nothing can make you feel less important than someones cell phone. I hate my cell phone and only use it when needed and out. I text maybe 5 messages a months as opposed to the average in my age bracket, 30-50 messages a month. PC's are so much different because it is an activity you do alone for the most part. You do not invite your friends over and sit at your PC answering e-mails.

22 September 2011

Civility in American Society

In the mornings, while I am still unemployed, I drive my son to University. It is one of the very small things that I can do. This child has had to go from lower middle class to object poverty at a crucial time in his life. We were never at a financial point where we could take vacations but all of the bills were paid. He takes it all with good humor and grace. It doesn't bother him that I purchase all of his clothing at the thrift shops or food from food pantries. So the very least I can do is give him a ride to University.

This morning I drove my son to University. In front of the building I drop him off at is handicap parking. The entire length of the building is handicap parking, as it should be. This morning when I arrived, the entire handicap parking area what vacant. I pulled into an area in between two handicap spots to allow for cars to park in the handicap spots. The area in between the parking spots are as big as a parking spot itself. While dropping my son off I was finishing the update on his father's medical condition and medications. This type of talk can be so very depressing.

As we were just about ready to say our good-byes, a car pulled up beside us and honked. The woman in the car had her window down and I rolled mine down. Perhaps she needed to know how to get to an area on campus. Or was lost. Having spent 11 years working at this campus as well as being an alumni I would be in a position to help with locations. As I rolled the window down she began to yell. Below is the "conversation"

Woman: "This is a handicap parking area" 
Me: "I am not parking here. I am just dropping off my son" 
Woman: "This is a handicap parking area" (Her voice is raising and she is yelling and becoming confrontational. I am the type of person who does not like yelling or confrontation. I prefer for things to be handled calmly.)
Me: "I understand that. I am just dropping off my son and I am leaving" (Remember, the entire handicap parking area is vacant around the entire front of the building. Having a husband who is disabled, I would never deprive a disabled person from a spot and would be irritated if someone parked in the only remaining spot reserved for someone who needed it. But the parking lot was vacant, spots galore. 
Woman: "You can't park here. This is for disabled people. Don't you know about disabled parking?"
Me: "My husband is disabled ma'am. I know about disabled people. I am just dropping my son of and then I am leaving". My husband refused to get the disabled license, plates, or sticker. He said that as long as he could walk with his cane, there were people who needed those spots more than him. That is the mindset of our home. I would never put any type of hardship on a disabled person. I know that living with the disability is difficult enough.
Woman: (screaming with a little spittle coming out of her mouth) "YOU CAN'T PARK HERE"
Me: "Why are you speaking to me this way?"
Woman: "Because I am irritated!!!"
Me: "I am done speaking to you" At this point I rolled up my window. She continued to shout as the window went up. I was gobsmacked. 

I did not know how to comprehend what had taken place. I was in an entirely vacant parking area and yet I was yelled at. I am a very compassionate and caring person. I have given my seat up on the bus for the elderly, male or female, while others sat and did nothing. I hold doors, speak respectfully to all. Especially to children. The main reason being, children learn by example. I have had excellent results in the classroom and out in public, just by speaking nicely and respectfully to all. Even during this exchange, my voice never raised, as hers not only raised but became vicious and abusive. I maintained a calm response to her ranting. 

As I left, I wondered what type of morning this woman had. She must have had a horrible morning and was itching for a fight. I am never the person to engage in a quarrel because I handle it calmly. That can cause people to get so angry, calm people. What a sad life if you feel the need to engage a stranger in a yelling match. My life is pretty sad but I would never take it out on someone else. It isn't a civilized behavior. Civility is what is needed in times like these, and often lacking.

The only conclusion I have to this situation and others like this is, you never know what is happening in the lives of others. Hurting others because you are hurt, irritating others because you are irritated is mean, selfish and childish and has no place in society.

17 September 2011

The Great Depression of the 2010's musings part 1

I sat staring at my shoes yesterday when my husband and I were on the way home from Osco Pharmacy. We had just purchased the one medication not covered under medicaid (yet the only neuropathy medication that relieves the pain for my husband). The cost was $172.99. This is the second month in a row we have had to pay that amount for medication. Feeling not so great I stared at my shoes and laughed to myself.

The shoes wore are the ones I wear everyday, my New Balance. I love these shoes and need to wear sneakers with as much running around as I do. This particular pair saw it's day about a year ago. Both shoes on the left sides have holes in them. The holes are so large you can see my socks. I know it is going to be horrible in the winter. Now most people would tell you, just buy a new pair of shoes. That's the part that makes me laugh. The people I know would have no concept of what true poverty means. The shoes are a symbol of my life. Sure there can be a quick fix, like maybe a new pair of sneakers, or my mother paying my electric bill that was past due for 6 months, but those are no real solution. There will still be another bill or prescription that does not have the funds to pay it.

When I didn't have money in the past to pay for something I would wait to the following pay period to purchase it. There is no following pay period now. This is it. I do not think people get it. It is not just tightening the belt a little. Maybe skipping going out to the movies or dinner. It is the harsh reality that you do not have enough money after paying for needed medication to buy something at the store for meals for the week. Or be able to pay for transportation for your husband for the week to get to Doctor's appointments. And it won't be all better after payday, or you can take it out of savings or put it on the card. Those options have long since past.

This hopelessness/helplessness effects your entire life, for the rest of your life. There is no longer a sense of happiness, laughter and ease. That has been replaced by dread, fear, and tension. I do not know if this will ever go away. I have my doubts. I have read countless tales of the survivors of the Great Depression. Hell, my Great Grand Parents lost everything in the Great Depression and were changed for ever. People who love the old you. The one that was like them don't realize, you are not like them. You never will be again. The absolute best you can hope for is to find a job that pays at least half of what you were making as an educator, and keep your fingers crossed that there will be health benefits. If not that you make just below what Medicaid will allow for you to continue using Medicaid. The most important thing is not to think of what your life was and who you use to be. That person is long gone.

15 September 2011

On this day 21 years ago...

On this day, 21 years ago, I was sitting in the basement of my then fiances' parents house drinking a shot of tequila my ex's father poured for us, complete with worm. It was to celebrate his 21st Birthday. It was horrible and the taste stayed in my mouth for hours afterward. 

On this day, 21 years ago, I gave the man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with a gold pocket watch (which he had wanted for years, a  box of cigarillos and a bottle of tequila. 

On this day, 21 years ago,my future was all laid out and planned. I was a year away from marriage (or so I thought) and the life of a wife of a Lutheran Minister or a Chicago Police Officer. Which ever career he chose.

On this day, 21 years ago, I had hopes, dreams and goals for a happy life. How did so many years pass?

Happy Birthday A.K.. I hope the life you chose still makes you happy.

11 September 2011

Detour from Raw Foods

I must say, though I was enjoying my journey with raw foods and will pick it back up. I first had to exercise a demon that has plagued me for 27 years, I quit smoking. It was quite difficult and I will be a smoker for the rest of my life, I will just be a smoker who chooses not to smoke.

Today makes 4 months since my last cigarette. I do so miss them. I know I can do without them but I loved them so.

Now I can begin to focus on raw foods and health. My husband has been improving everyday from his stoke. It has really boosted his confidence. 

The boy graduated from high school in June and began university in August. He is just getting the hang of university classes.

So much has happened in such a short time. It is amazing how much there is to say when you have not had a pc for 5 months. I have been using the ipod my husband was given for christmas by his brother and sister as my internet connection. My pc contracted a horrible virus and is unusable. All of my files and life are on the pc sitting at my feel. I have not felt like using this new/old pc of my husbands because my files are not on it and there are no programs of use. I do not even have Word on this thing.

I do hope to begin raw foods again. With me still looking for a job and my husband still recovering from the stroke, it has been difficult to even get to food pantries much less the grocery store for fresh veggies.