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One thing not many want to talk about is financial stress but you know I like to share all so let's talk about it. Please keep in mind this is my story from my perspective, keep your negativity to yourself! I will warn you its a bit lengthy but worth the read! If you are unaware of how I ended up in a wheelchair from a botched back surgery check out the full story here.
Let's start from the beginning of the year 2020 Josh (my husband) is the breadwinner at this time and the only one working. Covid happens, March shutdown begun and my husband gets laid off March 29, 2020 with no warning or actual reason. As many others we are applying for unemployment and waiting the dreadful 6 weeks of no pay.
By the time unemployment starts coming it takes us several months to get back on track with bills and when we finally do we get the news about my back. We plan to stay on unemployment while I go through surgery so that I will be able to have a ride to my appointments as well as someone to take care of the kids. Not to mention this is Covid Lockdown time, jobs are not hiring and no company is going to to hire my husband who has to take off right away several times a month to take care of me.
With the plan in place, we scheduled surgery and had an approximate time of when my husband would be able to go back to work. He even had a company lined up 8 week out so that we wouldn't have to worry about finding work during my surgery, hospital stay, appointments, managing the kids and household.
We made it through the end of the year and Jan 2021 starts which means I can begin Physical Therapy. Yes, I had to wait over two months to heal before starting physical therapy but none the less I started therapy at 8am 2 times a week so that my husband could get me there and then go to work after. Things are going until we find how what is causing my problems and realize its going to be a long uphill battle.
At this time the surgeon is refusing to fix his mistake leaving me disabled and in pain. If my back wasn't enough, during all the imaging that I had for my back, the doctors found a tumor on my right ovary. Due to the growth, look on ultrasound plus the pain it was causing and the chance it could be cancerous, I had another surgery Feb. 5, 2021 to have my right ovary and fallopian tube removed. Thank goodness it wasn't cancer but this was just more bills and time off work for Josh.
Once we got the all clear that it wasn't cancer, we focused on getting the screw removed but this is where the downfall all starts. The company Josh was working for wasn't to keen on him having to take off, come in late or leave early to take me to my appointments causing him to be let go from the company.
March 2021 is here and I feel I am living a nightmare because we are applying for unemployment again. With the long 6 week wait we fall behind on bills and have a repeat of the previous year. By the time we are caught up we realize that there is no company that will hire Josh when he has to take off weekly to take me to a doctors appointment. We also realize that we have to choose one or the other, stay on unemployment and fight to have my back fixed or find a job and give up any hope my back can be fixed.
Keep in mind unemployment pays isn't enough to survive off of and in Illinois here is the max benefits you can receive weekly before taxes are taken out so minus over a hundred dollars in each payment;
- $484 with no dependents
- $577 with a dependent spouse
- $669 with a dependent child or children
This means we are living paycheck to paycheck trying to figure out what bill to pay or not pay. All while trying to pay for gas, tolls, fees, food, etc. Breaking down our living expensive per month not including essentials, food or fuel;
- $1,100 per month rent
- Average $200 per month Electric
- Average $210 per month Water
- Average $40 per warmer months Gas warmer & $120 per colder months
- $30 per month Garbage
- $40 per month Car insurance
- $315 per month Internet, Tv & Streaming
- $75 per month phone bill
- $29 per month online website
- $6.99 Microsoft storage and Office Apps
- Total $2045.00
Quickly you can see that there wasn't enough money coming in to pay for bills, essentials, plus all that was included for my back. Don't forget I left out essentials & food, plus the kids birthday, kids clothes and new shoes, school supplies and fees not to mention Christmas, two emergencies with the vehicle, a dental root canal for myself that I had open care credit for, our dryer broke and was un fixable, our oldest broke his phone, a stray cat joined our family with vet bills and who knows what else. I want to add in here that we have zero credit cards so no back ups.
We used our stimulus payment and tax return to work on paying off our debt but if you have even had debt pill up then you understand how hard it can be to pay it off while still paying for everything else. Josh's unemployment ended Aug. 2021 and we are now facing no income coming in or continue to fight for my back with doctor appointment after appointment.
With the understanding that no company will hire my husband because no company wants an employee that has to leave or miss work weekly to take care of me he started working for himself. Work isn't steady but he gets a few jobs to keep us afloat and I start making some money creating content but it's still not enough to make a dent in the debt that is pilling up. We had to choose which bill to pay based on need and knowledge meaning we understood that our electric and gas per law in Illinois cannot be turn off due to non payment during the cold months but water can, so we would pay the water bill and let the electric and gas pile up. We went to a food pantry to put food on the table and were in total survival mode.
My back fight continues until March 2022 when we find a neurosurgeon who is going to remove the screw. We learn that the damage will be permeant and the surgery is to reduce my pain that the screw is causing being in my spinal cord. While I was fighting to get my leg to work and have feeling back for over a year and half in the medical world only find out the damage is permeant is gut wrenching. Adding in our financial struggle makes it all feel so overwhelming.
From Jan. 2021 - March 2022 this is roughly what we spent on just my back fight plus all my appointments;
- About 6500 Miles with a car that gets 13 miles to the gallon, with the average of $3.00 per gallon through that time it costed $1500.00 in fuel give or take
- $410 on Tolls
- $121 on Parking Garage Fees
- Custom Wheelchair $5547
- 61 Appointments including Multiple Images for my Back
- 8 Appointments including Images for my Ovary
- 2 Surgeries
- 1 Overnight Hospital Stay
Before I go let me talk about the big elephant in the room, the malpractice case that I have against the surgeon, hospital and medical group. Although I have a case it doesn't mean anything until you sign the final papers. Also I will break down a little about how long it is going to take.
- We hired the Lawyer December 2021
- Lawyer had to gather all documents and medical records
- Meet with two different medical panels to confirm that there is grounds for malpractice
- File the Case Oct. 2022
- First meeting with the lawyers from the other side Dec. 2022
- Other side can drag it out for 18 months before it would have to go to trial or can settle meaning no trial and I have to sign an NDA
- If it goes to trial it can take another 1 - 2 more years
- Meaning it could settle in 18 months or less or have a jury verdict in 2 & half years - 3 years
So while I have a case, the time it is going to take isn't going to help me in the situation that we are in because of a botch back surgery that led up to everything today. I have no drivers license not allowing me to be able to work outside of the home and at this time I make a small amount creating content, I just launched a digital Etsy shop that brings in a really small amount monthly but growing and will be launching a podcast next month. Josh has been unsuccessful at finding steady work plus entering the cold season here that mean less construction jobs.
Finances are always such a hush hush topic but want you to feel that it is okay be an adult with children and be struggling financially. I am not proud of our financial situation that we are in but looking back there was nothing I did for the to happen to us and wouldn't change my fight for my back. I never wanted to look back and not be able to say to my kids "mommy did everything she could to try to walk' even if that meant facing things getting turned off and eviction.
At this exact moment I have no idea what tomorrow will bring and can't tell you if next month things will change financially. What I do know is that while we are loosing it all financially not to mention everything else I have lost (read more about that here), the surgeon is waking up everyday walking, going to work, operation, receiving a paycheck and living like no big deal. Before you say anything about what the surgeon will loose from my malpractice with his insurance and age he wont loose much. He had 5 other malpractice cases before me (found out from my lawyer because its not public record) and was practicing no big deal not to mention he is old enough to retire so in all honesty the surgeon will not loose anywhere close to what I lost.