Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dreading the Doctor

I know, dread is a pretty strong word, so you can pick from nervous, edgy, tense, anxious, worried, or apprehensive.


In three weeks, I have my first real doctor’s appointment for the first time in 5 years.

That’s half a freaking decade <gulp>

The past couple of years haven’t been kind financially. 
·        In grad school (‘06-08), I had health insurance but I could only afford to use it for birth control.

·        While adjuncting (’08-10), I didn’t qualify for insurance, so I simply went without. I kept track of my blood pressure at Walmart, got a free blood test in 2010, had regularly massages, and prayed I would never have to go near an emergency room.

·        This past year, I have insurance again but haven’t felt comfortable using it beyond a few urgent care visits. With our income bouncing around, it’s impossible to budget for medical bills, so my attitude has been to just not accumulate any.

This, of course, is not a good path and I’ve been fully aware of it as the years have ticked by. I know the best approach to your health is the preventative one, and routine appointments are a part of that.

Since we moved, we’ve been holding out for my appointments until our income became stable. 15 months later and no relief in sight, it’s time to throw in the towel and just bite the bullet.

There’s a lot to complain about modern medicine, which I’ll leave to the more passionate, but my biggest beef is the complete inability to know what the hell you will be paying.

There is no budgeting, no comparison shopping, no price checking to know what you are getting into.

In an ideal world, going to the doctor would be like strolling into McDonald’s – all of your options are listed right out in the open with a clearly marked price.

The irony of using McDonalds when talking about heath is not lost ... (source)
Instead, it’s just a guessing game of how much you’ll be charge (and goodness knows when you’ll get the bill – they can wait three months to process it and then want the money in two weeks, but I digress).

Without knowing how much I could rack up at the doctor’s, I’m nervous. 5 years without proper care means I have a backlog of tests that should be run (and a few that I’m specifically requesting).
Not to mention I haven’t had a single shot since I graduated high school in 2002 and there are a few that I really should have current (my thoughts on vaccines to be documented later …).

Furthermore, I am terrified, yes, terrified, of what they could find.  I may be young, but I have a host of factors working against me – inactive lifestyle, constant stress, don’t eat enough fruits/veggies, overweight, and a family history of high blood pressure/heart disease.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and get a clean bill of health, but after so many years of poor habits and infrequent health screenings, well, the odds are not in my favor.

And the thing that really gets to me, is that whatever they might find, chances are it will be my fault I got it.  Something that was a result of my inattention to my body. 

Don't look kid - it will only makes it worse! (source)
Then I have secondary concerns about whether this new doctor will be a good match for me, will she listen to my concerns, will she explain things properly or just brush me off, will she treat me as a person or just isolate my problems … the list goes on.   

In my past, I had some serious trust issues with doctors – some from my childhood, others stemming for a bad surgery.  I had to actively work through those so I wouldn’t have panic attacks before appointments.  I’m glad I no longer fear doctors, I just fear the resulting bill.

Questions – Do you experience similar concerns about medical bills? 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Meet Our Kitties

Meet our children - Ajax (left) and Draco (right)

These lovable furballs joined us back in 2006.  We adopted them through the Humane Society at the age of 8 weeks.  Though not litter mates, they're clearly like brothers.  We jokingly refer to them as our "clearance kitties."

Meet Ajax  

Otherwise affectionately know as The Brown Bastard, Big Man, Chubbins, and Chubzilla.

Unstaged photo.  Mike didn't even know Ajax was sleeping with him until I showed him the picture

Though only a week older, Ajax has always been the larger (and hungrier) cat.  He's full Tabby, which means he switches between smart and dumb in a matter of nanoseconds.  He cannot be trusted with raw chicken in the house, either on the counter or in a trash can.  Beyond that, he loves the allure of feathers and tinfoil balls.   

Meet Draco

Otherwise called Mr. Blue Eyes, Little Cat, and Drakey Drake

Part Siamese (lavender point), part Tabby, Draco's main strength lies in napping.  He is very territorial of the bed and ensures that clean laundry has been slept on.  He knows the word "bed time" and is very excited when there are two humans to cuddle between.  He steals hair ties and pens.

Luckily, the upkeep on these two is quite minimal.  We use Tidy Cat litter and have just switched them to an all-natural cat food (no corn products).  

Do you have pets?  Are they worth the cost?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Screwy Finances Yet Again

So remember our recent bout of debt slashing?  We were flying high on our little burst of income, happily checking off items on our financial goal list.

The tables have turned yet again and we're now back to Square One.

I feel like we're in this cul-de-sac of financial repetitiveness, a merry-go-round I'd gladly exit if I could.

The dealio is that Mike was supposed to be on another month of orders during August.  So we threw all of that extra money he was earning at debt and a small pittance into savings, thinking we'd get to that with our surplus for this month.

Just kidding.

At the last minute, Mike's orders were canceled.  Yep, no warning, you can go home now.  While that's nice for us on a personal note because this summer has been completely hijacked, it also means Mike won't be earning money at all this entire month.

Lest anyone be super alarmed, we thankfully have enough to cover everything and Mike will back in classes with his GI Bill reinstated in September.  

But it's switcharoos like these that make me question our previous actions, and that's no fun at all.  How was I to know it would have been better to throw a bunch in savings first and not at debt because we would be losing income on short notice?  

I know I shouldn't be hard on us - we don't have a crystal ball and you can only make a good decision based on the knowledge that you have at the time.  

But this is what I think is the most frustrating about our financial situation - it's never consistent. No matter how hard we try, half of our income can disappear or be delayed at any time.  You cannot be financially responsible if you can't PLAN for anything.

<takes a deep breath and eats a piece of chocolate>

Things will be alright, it's just another bump in the road.  Worse things could happen.  But believe me, it will be a happy day when we have incomes we can actually count on.