Monday, April 24, 2017

When life takes a detour

I had a lot of plans for this week. And I had to scrap them all.

Instead, I'm parked next to DS's bed in the local hospital. He fractured his femur in an accident, and because of his disease, neither surgery nor a cast were a good option. Instead, we are hoping to let it heal on its own. Because we cannot care for him at home while he is at this level of pain, he will remain in the hospital and likely be moved to a rehab facility for several weeks until the pain becomes manageable.

He is 23, but is physically unable to press the call button or in any way to care for himself, and so one of us is with him 24/7.

Church friends have been providing meals and DS's friends have been providing moral support. I am thankful I'm organized enough that the bills will be paid on time with little effort on my part.

We will get through this. Just have to keep our chins up.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A luxury is saving me money

A few weeks ago, things were crazy at home ... OK, crazier than usual. The cupboards were bare and I didn't have a spare hour to make a grocery store run. About that time, an offer landed in my email. I could order online and pick up curbside at a local store and they would waive the $4.95 fee.

Tell me it's free and I'll bite.

So I pulled up to the grocery store feeling like a celebrity, pushed a button and sat there like a kept woman while someone else loaded my groceries. All the while thinking, man this was a bad idea. I'll never go back to shopping on my own.

And I haven't. Except it hasn't been the budget buster I expected it to be. Turns out when I order online, I don't throw in those last-minute items that catch my attention and I just can't live without. I get what I need and nothing else. And you know what? My grocery bill has dropped a minimum of $20 a week. And I'm happier. Win win!

Sometimes you just have to go out of the box.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

This never happens ...

Received our Escrow Review Statement on our mortgage. I always groan when it shows up in the mailbox because it ALWAYS shows we owe, usually a couple hundred dollars or more, and our monthly payment goes up.

For the first time ever, we had an overage. Attached was a check for $28.81. OK, so that's not a lot, but it sure beats having to give them more money! More exciting, is that our monthly payment dropped by $25. Since we are used to the payment, I will just keep paying what we have been and the extra $25 will go toward the principal.

None of this is earth shattering in the grand scheme, but it is so much nicer to find out someone owed us for a change. And given the week I've had battling health insurance, I'll take it.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Taking a breath, and moving on

Thanks for commiserating with me over the massive amounts of money we threw at medical expenses last year. I wish I could say it was unusual. But for the past 23 years - since the diagnosis of DS - it's been the norm. While we have what most would consider a really good, solid income, it has never felt like that to us.

We have good health insurance, but good insurance doesn't cover much of the equipment needed to get through the day with a physically disabled family member. It's ironic that when DS is in the hospital, the cost to us is nothing. Insurance covers 100%. But when he is at home, we shoulder a burden that impacts us greatly. By caring for him at home, we save the system millions of dollars but put ourselves at financial risk. It's a dark side of the system that hasn't been addressed and about which many aren't aware. Since we will not put him into a nursing home - where all his needs would be covered - we will keep plugging along.

Last year's out-of-pocket medical expenses totaled $48,000. Beyond the usual co-pays and 80/20 costs, that includes nearly $20,000 for caregivers; $6,000 for a ceiling lift so we can safely move DS from bed to chair to bathroom seat; the cost of caring for his service dog and repairs to everything from his wheelchair to the ramp leading into our house. Note: the ceiling lift was considered non-essential and so was not covered at all by insurance. Home adaptations, including a ramp to enter the home fall into the same category. I've long since given up trying to figure out the logic in that thinking.

I have learned to be super organized and keep a record for every single medical expense, no matter how small. I am meticulous about the mileage when traveling to medical appointments and ask for receipts when I have to pay for parking at the hospital. My work pays off at tax time, when I can produce proof of what we've spent and why.

So, yes, we will be receiving a nice tax refund ... which is already earmarked to take care of the crumbling bathroom with the leaky faucets that the plumber said are so old they can't be fixed. (It also has mustard yellow tile, circa 1972.) It would be great to throw the refund at debt, but sometimes other issues take priority.

Onward and upward.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Another day, another doctor

I am slowly working my way through my New Year's goal of getting checkups from my doctors (when you pass 50, the number of doctors multiplies!).  I've seen my dermatologist (history of small skin cancers), my dentist and my endocrinologist - who released me and said I can now be followed by my regular doc so one specialist down - yay!

Yesterday, I went to see the ophthalmologist. I have always just gone to an optician, but wanted a more thorough checkup since glaucoma runs in the family. As I was checking in, the receptionist informed me that my insurance only covers an optician. What?? I asked how much the visit would run and she said a minimum of $200. But I was there, I was tired and I wanted an exam, so I said OK.

Midway through my visit, the doctor tells me I have a bleed in the back of my right eye, which is a sign of early glaucoma. He'll need to see me in 45 days, he says. I tell him that my insurance won't cover it and he tells me I am no longer here for a vision exam - I am now a medical case and my medical will cover it. ... So, good news, bad news!

I'm thankful I decided to stick around and get checked out. And I'm thankful he was able to spot the bleed. He said that had I come in 3 weeks, it would likely have cleared up and he wouldn't have seen anything. I'm told glaucoma usually doesn't show any symptoms, until you start losing your sight.

Next up is my annual with my regular doc. Here's to hoping he doesn't find anything but an aging woman!

On another note, found out this morning that insurance has denied DS a wheelchair - again. Not sure what the next step will be. I am frustrated and angry that his needs aren't being addressed. This should not be this hard.


Monday, January 2, 2017

Hello 2017

Well, 2016 is in the books. Our family marked several milestones and endured several trials. In other words, we experienced life. Hopefully we emerged stronger and smarter. Well, stronger anyway.

On the debt front, we paid off $10,809.29. Not our best year, but a decent number nonetheless. I hope that younger folks who happen upon this blog have a moment where they realize how long it can take to dig out of stupid. Maybe it will keep them from making the same mistakes.

Our family's word for 2017 is hope. The first-ever treatment for DS's disease was approved by the FDA before Christmas. We are anxiously awaiting the drug company and insurers to sort out the numbers (estimated cost for the first year is $750,000). While the drug has not been tested on adults, there is HOPE that it will benefit them as well as the kiddos who have seen such remarkable results in clinical trials. After 23 years of living with a life-threatening disease for which doctors offered NO hope, we are overwhelmed and overjoyed.

DH and I spent the first day of the new year with our week-old granddaughter. If a new baby doesn't inspire hope, I don't know what does.

Time for a fresh start. Happy New Year, everyone!