Friday, May 31, 2013

The Cost of Living

If you've dealt with me this week and sensed that I seem a little thin skinned, you would be right.  I'll just apologize out of the gate.  This was the first time since 2009 that I had to work on what would have been Kelsey's birthday.  It's one of two Big Bad Days a year where it would probably be advisable if I just curled up in a corner and read a book or watched really sad and/or violent movies over and over and avoided other people.  June 20th would be the other one of course.  But real life doesn't work that way, so I geared up and powered through it.  The thing you realize when you expend that much mental energy to survive a situation is that there has to be a release on the other side, and for me it's manifested itself in an extreme irritation at everything.  And I'm exhausted.  I slept through the alarm this morning, just adding to my general sense of frustration because I am so routine driven.  As a matter of fact, right now I've got sports talk radio on in the background and am considering picking up the radio and tossing it out the window.  The very sound of their voices is making me want to scream.  I'm not sure why I'm still listening actually - they get a little off topic on Fridays anyway, so whatever it is they are talking about is only vaguely related to Pittsburgh sports.  Yet, they promise they will be talking Penguins-Bruins at some point soon, so I have stayed my hand and not done violence to the perfectly innocent radio.  Yet.

It is, however, the second time over Kelsey's birthday since 2010 (which has coincided with Memorial Day, which is why I've always managed to be off) that we've been embroiled in a financial crisis.   We were bailed out last time with a minor miracle when a commercial condominium I was partners in sold.  That financed the move here actually.  But, at some point there are no more rabbits one can pull out of the hat.  The only thing I own now is this little house and a couple of cars.  And taxes will come due on the house soon.  That should be interesting because I used the escrow to pay our income taxes, which I had under-estimated.  It's just one of the little shell games I've played for years now.

I used to think I was really bad with money.  I look back on it now and realize that the opposite is actually true.  I've managed to keep a roof over our heads and keep food on the table for both man and beasts (I always managed to feed the 30 head of deer even in the worst of times in what I look back on now as a fit of fiscal madness - but it speaks to a deep emotional need I had to nurture and "feed" something when my own children were starving themselves).  Above all, I've retired the mountain of debt we built up trying to care for our daughters.  But, any cushion I once had is now expended, so when this latest little issue arose, I couldn't absorb it easily and am not sure what's going to happen long term or how I'm going to get us through it.

I remember so vividly the strain on my father's face after he lost his position at the university and was trying to figure out how to support us.  That was a hard, hard couple of years for him as he had to shift career gears suddenly and unexpectedly and do whatever he had to do to keep us afloat.  I can see the physical toll it took on him in my mind's eye even now after all these years.  For me, it's been well over a decade of this.  And, as I've pointed out before, this was all the while when we were actually pulling in pretty decent salaries.  I feel the weight of the stress as a physical thing.  Ironically, it may not be the deep grief of losing my daughter that does me in, it may be the long term devastation of trying to pay for it that finally defeats me.  I'm just not sure I'm strong enough to deal with one more blow.  I am angry.  I am scared.  But most of all, I'm just really, really tired.  Down to my very bones.

But, really, this is not supposed to be a self-serving, sniveling post.  This is supposed to be a plea to anyone and everyone who might read this and have some power or influence to try and change the fate for future families who try to help a loved one defeat an eating disorder.  Recently Texas tried again to introduce legislation to expand insurance coverage for eating disorders.  Several people I know were active in lobbying for it and testifying.  I submitted written testimony.  But, at the end of the day, it was defeated.  Again.  In Pennsylvania, there was a bill introduced before I moved here which did not pass. I don't think they've even tried since.  A lovely young lady I know who lives in yet another state recently had to leave treatment early because she couldn't get long term insurance coverage.  She is a precious gift - a true delight of a human being who deserves every chance.  It's frustrating to me that she's denied that full chance by people crunching numbers who have never met her.  People who don't see the real human cost not just to the patient, but to the families.

What really kills me about all of this:  I am forever impacted by the costs we incurred.  If I get us through this latest issue, I'll always have to be braced for the next thing.  Yet, it wasn't enough.  I spent Kelsey's birthday not having a little midlife crisis because I've got a daughter who is nearing 30, but having a little crisis because I should have a daughter nearing 30 and instead have an urn in my living room.  So, please forgive me for being touchy these last few days.  They've been hard ones.

No comments:

Post a Comment