There’s No Money

An interesting article from the Atlantic, “The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans“.  Americans are not only broke and getting broker, they are “financially illiterate” – 65% of Americans. A huge percentage are so broke that even small sums are financially impossible for them. It’s an interested read.

Not mentioned is medical debt, which is odd since millions of people have been literally wiped out by medical costs. My recent Mayo Clinic experience destroyed me financially, creating massive debt, and my GoFundMe efforts (cancelled due to lack of interest) only came in at $2800. Prior to this, I had remained entirely debt free. Now I’m cancer free but struggling terribly.

I had ‘boot-strapped’ my way into my current living arrangements years ago, buying a piece of raw land and working my ass off to make it habitable. It took years of backbreaking work, but the ‘homestead’ as it were, came to be. But there is no doubt why I have so much back trouble and pain today. But now, I’m unable to work at all. Even so, I thought I’d be “ok”, since I had still managed to stay out of debt, avoiding most doctors and medical expenses as long as I could.

I stayed home and did most things myself – until the time came that I couldn’t and I had to slow down or even not do them at all. Then a rare cancer raised its ugly head which had to be dealt with. The “financial hole” the author above mentions happened to me too. I have absolutely no idea (or expectations) on how to retire. There isn’t going to be a retirement as far as I can tell.

My father-in-law is retired, and very, very ill. He’s basically on his death bed now. The only reason he is still alive is because he has great health insurance. They keep finding ways to keep him going. This saga has been going on for over ten years now, but I suspect he’s very close to leaving this world. His medical expenses are in the millions now, which would have wiped them out many, many times over (he was not a wealthy man) if not for the health insurance. But I contrast this to my own situation and how I get treated by doctors and hospitals and what my options are. The difference is literally night and day. The insured are treated like cash cows, the uninsured are left to die or offered very little options in the way of treatment.

My sister-in-law passed last year and though she did have a health plan, it wasn’t very good. And neither was her treatment. She held on for 9 months, but the medical system totally failed her. I’ve read this same story all over the Internet. You pay to play and if not, you can stay as long as your health doesn’t fail.

I’ve already had the “talk” with my kids. I won’t destroy my family with more medical debt. I’m checking out when I determine that it’s time to go. I see what’s happening with my father-in-law and I simply will not do that. My life – my terms – my choice. It’s the only thing you actually own and can control, the right to live and the right to die. I do not need permission or never do I expect to ask or move to a state that “allows” this. Frankly, it’s none of their damned business. All they care about is their ability to collect tax, you the individual, don’t matter at all.

Health care in this fucked-up kountry is worse then terrible. If you can pay, you can play, obtaining what is needed, necessary and essential and even having a whole lot of unessential stuff done. But if you’re like me, you’re on your own. I suspect this is the real cause of debt for most Americans, it was over 40% of Americans in 2014.

This is why I’ve become a strong advocate of eating right and living as healthy as you can. It’s your real insurance plan. Don’t expect help when it hasn’t shown up for millions of other Americans. Your body is yours to keep, cherish and take care of for as long as you can. It’s up to you to do so. What you put into it matters – quite a lot. It’s literally a matter of life or death.

I’m not leaving any time soon. I have a great deal of pain these days, but it’s still manageable. Exercise and movement are essential for me. Since returning from surgery, I’ve not gone back to the local gym, but really need to do so because it did help (I had to wait 6 weeks anyway to recover). I still have to get the piss-poor job of stitch removal on my back redone (they left several non-dissolvable stitches that have to be removed surgically now).

I’m trying to keep my back from fusing itself prematurely, but the nerves are being pinched. It’s very debilitating and even if I had the money, surgical fusion is not an option (the Mayo agreed with this assessment). I may eventually get the nerves cut to reduce the pain, but can’t do this either right now, so my health plan as it were, is to keep moving, keep eating healthy and do my very best to enjoy what I still have.

Maybe I’ll be able to stick around long enough to witness what I’m absolutely certain is going to happen.

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One thought on “There’s No Money

  • May 22, 2016 at 6:23 pm
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    I read the Atlantic article a little while back, and the content was depressing. Like you, I’ve done what I can to be debt free since losing a job back in 2001. I had 6 month’s of living funds saved, and went through that. I thought: Never again. I didn’t have to take on any debt for that time, but the situation was enough. Becoming debt free was, for me at least and surprisingly, rather easy. And easy also to remain that way. Once one learns to see debt for what it is, one can pay attention to every temptation that comes along.

    Though we are not fully homesteaded and may never be, we remain out of debt, at least by the end of the month for some of us. The kids, 20’s, do have debt, despite what we tell them and though we admonish them against it. Youth!

    However, the tragedy of medical diagnosis and cost is another thing altogether. Your story, and I don’t mean to be unkind in any way, is an example of life throwing a major curve ball, at whomever; something which could happen to any of us; something we wouldn’t wish on anyone. Catastrophic medical conditions have a way of making our world very, very small and personal, blocking out a great deal of the larger world. There’s a reprieve of sorts in that ‘shrinking’, even though, as we get better, the world opens up again, with typically the same perspective as before. The world, for better or worse, went on…and goes on. But the sudden burden of debt, the loss of so much–no one knows this enormity until it hits home.

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