Tis the Season

Every day I get calls from charities needing money. Everyday I have the same response “I am really sorry I have no money to give you. I have Multiple Sclerosis and hospital bills to pay off”. They still ask for money, I realize they are just telemarketers.

The truth is it is a lean Christmas. Which is fine because material is not the meaning of this time of year it is being with those you care about. I feel a terrible guilt for having this disease. I have always paid my credit card off monthly. Now I am not able to do so. I will be making monthly payments on medical bills for years. I have no real income coming in so my husband has to be the total bread winner. When we married I worked more hours than he did, for less pay. There is nothing worse than feeling like a financial burden. I am going to have this disease for the rest of my life and I am only in my 40′s. My first reaction when the Doctor said I had MS was I can’t afford it. Not I may go blind or end up in a wheelchair. This is so unfair to my husband to take on all the medical bills.

The bills are mounting and my credit limit is decreasing. I do not fit  any criteria for federal or state help. My savings are almost gone. The savings for when the furnace goes out and has to be replaced is my next option.

In December 7, 2001 my husband was laid off. I was not diagnosed with MS. For those two years I did not go to a doctor, except when I got pneumonia with asthma. The Carrboro clinic turned me away. I found a Doctor who treated those without insurance, who just happened to be on the News that night. I could only blow 40 on a peak flow meter, normal is 400, and 250 is bad.

I have insurance with the State Workers Health Plan am glad to have it. But on our income which is half of what it was ten years ago the out of pocket costs and my premiums as a spouse are high.

Vacations have been few in our thirteen years and mostly camping. Every dollar we spend, even at the grocery store is thought out. We do not even make it paycheck to paycheck.

Our family is mystified as to why we are not buying each other gifts. “Why are you not going out for Black Friday and catching all the Deals?”. At our ages we really do not need much.

We are happy to be able to pay the mortgage on our fifty year old house. We have to cars which are paid for.

I know there are many people worse off than we are. For those not in my shoes it is easy to blame me somehow or to think this could never happen to you. It can happen to anyone. My Doctor said at my last visit, “It is so unfair you have so many illnesses you can not help, most of my patient’s illnesses are caused by over eating, smoking, or alcohol and you do none of these things”.

The lesson for this holiday is that without the help of Bob Cratchit’s employer, Scrooge’s help, Tiny Tim would have had a much different fate. “God Bless Us Everyone”.

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