And you hear two words: Life. Threatening.
There is no easy way for me to write this article. It’s personal. It’s painful. And it’s my truth, however embarrassing or isolating.
Telling the truth about your situation can be humbling, liberating, and can also open up your life to the judgment of others — or perhaps, if you have the right people around you at the right time, you can receive support from your community at a critical time.
In short — having the rug yanked unapologetically from under you sucks.
For those of you following my story, you may be aware that I live with a chronic pain situation and have challenges with regards to healthcare (meaning, I have none or limited healthcare). These ongoing health issues have me a “stay at home writer” with limited means. I live with my boyfriend of 9 years, my youngest son (who is an adult) and our teenage daughter. My boyfriend pays the bills and we live paycheck to paycheck — sometimes a paycheck behind. I mention this for background purposes.
OK the fun part.
Have you ever been cruising along in life, autopilot carrying you in reasonable safety, the radio tuned to a song you half-like and the wind blowing through one side of your hair, arm stretched lazily out the window — and BAM?
You get that phone call. Your finances go awry. You have that end-all argument. You get sick. Life happens AT you.
Life can be shitty sometimes.
Part 1 — Rug Yanked
We are not a family of means. We get by. I am an excellent cook — even if there are 4 ingredients to work with — I think of myself as a cooking magician. I am resourceful. Thinking outside the financial box is a bit of a talent I have.
But one week ago we got the news — my boyfriend’s company he works for: CLOSING. And 5 days later, after 3-year steady employment, he is out of a job, and we have one small paycheck left. This is only part of the — our comfortable routine, cruising along, we can find a way to make ends meet — RUG. He is saddened, stressed, and applying for jobs with ferocity, but there will be a huge gap in income and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
The job he loved very much is gone.
Part 2: Rug tossed out the window.
One month ago I was hospitalized. I didn’t share too much of this online, even with my Facebook family and friends. Somehow it was just too overwhelming at the time to share it — the comments and well-wishes would have been nice but I didn’t want to be a “sob story.” I didn’t want pity and had no mental energy to deal with how others responded — I was using all my mental energy battling the pain and confusion.
I spent the night at Duke University after a “Stroke Code” was called. This brought people racing into my face and hurried questions I struggled to answer as my face drew up into intermittent seizures. Nerve pain radiated up the back of my head and crawled across my scalp like lightning fingers. The pain in the side of my face, unbearable.
I’d been to my local ER four times and my doctor twice in 6 days — no one would write me a pain prescription. They gave me a Neurology referral and told me to wait. While the pain took over my whole head.
I recall laying in a fetal position in a lobby chair and sobbing loudly while the room full of patients and counter full of attendants ignored me. It was humiliating. I was in so much pain I didn’t care.
(I have had meningitis before and this pain was reminiscent of what I went through with that.)
I just knew something was terribly wrong and no one would listen to me, or help.
We “don’t do pain treatment,” they all said. “What do I do?” I literally begged. I cried. I suffered.
My boyfriend drove me 2 1/2 hours away to Duke University Medical Center, where they took one look at the seizures, now occurring every few minutes, and called a stroke code. They ran all kinds of tests and kept me overnight for observation.
All it took to get the pain under control was 24 hours of anti-inflammatory shots. At which point my blood pressure climbed slowly back down from the ceiling and the seizures began to dissipate.
They found nothing wrong with you, you know. — What my doctor said to me when I went to her for a follow up — still in pain a week later.
I think I might hate my doctor.
Now, the back story part over, no family income, and coming off of a month-long pain flare-up and no answers, we used half our rent money to get me to a dentist; maybe they could tell me what is going on.
Part 3: Answers.
My dentist discovered the problem (conglomerate of problems) — I have two impacted wisdom teeth, one on either side of my face and both are sitting directly on a nerve going to my chin — this explains the facial drooping, the numbness in my lip, and the difficulty at times for my mouth to move properly when I am speaking (hence part of the stroke concerns previously.)
It also possibly explains the nerve pain flare-ups in my head and the facial seizures.
I also have an infection in a back tooth and this is a big problem — the pus is not draining outward, but pooling back behind the impacted tooth and into my jawbone (and eventually into other areas of my head).
I need emergency surgery to remove all three teeth. This is what my dentist said to me after a drastic exclamation at the x-ray imagery, composed and alarmed he explained:
- I have never seen anything like this before in my career.
- It is no wonder you have been in terrible pain.
- The nerve damage in your face may be permanent at this point.
- You cannot wait.
- This could end your life.
This could end my life?
So that’s it. I mean, what else can be said? Our income, lost. Denied the dental credit card. Surgery will be 2–3K and it HAS to be done or it’s life-threatening.
Cue the angels.
Cue the miracles.
Cue the hope — the unabashed, unbridled, unwavering hope that we will be clinging to over the next few weeks.
My consult is June 4 with the dental surgeon — yes I have to WAIT with this knowledge because “that’s our soonest available.”
Unrelated icing on the cake — I have another appointment at a hospital about an hour and a half from here in the morning with an Orthopedic surgeon — they work with the Charity Care, income-based program that we utilize for my medical care if I see certain doctors — and I have been waiting for this appointment since last June.
They will be determining if I need neck surgery as well.
FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY.
At this point, laughter really is the best medicine.
Note: One thing I did not touch on in this article is the guilt I feel over not being able to help provide during this financial crisis, but also that I am adding such a terrible financial burden as well. I say this because I know I am not alone in this. There are others out there who have to depend on loved ones and this is so difficult. i just want you to know — DON’T GIVE UP. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. YOU ARE STILL A WONDERFUL BLESSING TO YOUR FAMILY. You’d do anything for them, right? So don’t feel bad when they are willing to do the same for you. They do it because they love you.
Hang in there — cliche, I know, but I’ll say it anyway!
Thanks for reading.