Today started out seemingly normal. Dropped kiddo off at school for early basketball practice and i drove off to work. Then i get a call a little later from my son who is in the nurses office and is having trouble breathing. He tripped and fell and another child accidentally fell on him. So i rushed out of work early to go get him. I call the pediatrician because we had a “Well visit” scheduled for that afternoon and wanted to see if she could see him earlier. The nice lady on the phone tells me that she can get us in but that the well visit becomes a sick visit and i have to pay $40 to be seen. I say fine and as I’m waiting at the red light i check my bank account this is what i see
A slight panic comes over me and payday is a couple of days away and i figure i can ask his pediatrician if she can combine his well visit with this so that i won’t have to pay, we’ve been visiting her for 12 years maybe she will understand. As I’m waiting at the light, i guess life feels like i haven’t been kicked enough i hear a ding come from the dashboard…i have less than a 1/4 tank of gas and 24 miles to drive to see his doctor. The light turns green and i had towards the school i hear a second “ding” and look at the tire light come on. I let out a frustrated scream and hit my fists on the steering wheel.
I promise you i couldn’t make this up if i tried. I pick up my son and we head towards the pediatricians office. I plead my case to the accounting office and they say no, that it is now a sick visit and they will just bill me. I hold back tears as I’m explaining to them that they will have to do a payment arrangement for me and i walk back to the waiting room defeated. I’ve texted a few friends and family members for emotional support and I’ll tell you that i am surrounded by pure love. There is so much solidarity in the crap storm I’m surrounded by.
After examination by the doctor she decides that he probably would be better served at the Emergency Room and that he might need X Rays and a scope. I hold back the tears and i hope this doesn’t sound callous but start to count the bill in my head. We had out to the ER.I look at my gas tank and remember i have $6 in my purse that can buy us a couple of gallons to get home if needed.
Once I’m here we go through all the same things, the questions etc and they assign us to a room. The nurses poke around and tell us a doctor will see us soon. Then the humbling begins. The financial people wheel their little carts around and take your info. All in front of your children. The person sees that i still owe money from our last ER visit that I’m trying to pay down and says to me that my co-pay is $250. I tell him that i don’t have it right now and he then asks if i can pay anything towards it. I forgot for a second my son was there and i say to him “my bank account is negative $71, I’m so sorry i can’t” I’m holding back tears from embarrassment and shame. I realize I’m holding a school issued iPad and wonder if he thinks I’m one of those people who spend money on expensive things and can’t pay my bills. I want to go and explain that my purse is a gift and that my cell phone is from work and that i really can’t afford it but i don’t. And the silent judgement whether real or imagined hurts my heart. When he leaves my son says to me “I’m sorry, i shouldn’t have said anything because now you’re worried about money” i feel an inch tall. I feel like I’ve let him down, like the one thing I’m supposed to be doing in failing at miserably. I calm him down and give him a blanket and explain that it’s not his fault and that we’ll be OK.
But here’s the thing, i don’t know what OK is. I know that when i leave here with him and he’s healthy that is all that will matter. I will breath a quick sigh of relief until i remember that i just added another medical bill to my bills. That this will sit on top of my $10,000 loan in paying back for my surgery that insurance wouldn’t cover. That i live paycheck to paycheck and like many of us out there get creative will bills and dinner and food and just when you think you have a quick breath life comes in with a sucker punch.
I was telling my friend that i didn’t know how i could call this living. That it feels like all we do is fight to breathe and to climb out of this hole that just keeps getting bigger and bigger. That I’ve put steps into action so my son hopefully will never have to do this. That my plan is when it is time to go to college i will sell my house and give him any proceeds so that he won’t start life out with debt. I only have one child so once he leaves there’s no need for a big house. I just don’t want him to feel what I’m feeling right now. Which is hopeless and helpless and drowning in life.
I find myself praying less and less over the years because I’ve come to the realization that life is just what it is. Science is science. Things happen. Good things happen to bad people and bad things sometimes happen to good people. Life isn’t the movies, there’s no superman waiting in the wings, no long lost rich relative who’s bazillion dollars so i can help me and my entire family out. There’s no winning lottery ticket with a lucky number there’s no lost painting in the attic worth thousands. So we do what we can. We make the best of what we have we celebrate the little things in life and find gratitude in these breaths even though the relief is brief.
Right now they are doing X-rays and an EKG on my guy. He’s being such a trooper and I’m trying not to be the worst mom in the world by worrying about money.
I hope he’s OK. He needs to be OK because he’s my baby. I will find a way, there will always be a way and i share this, not for the woe is me aspect, shit we all have problems, mine are no bigger than yours, but i share it so maybe someone out there won’t feel alone, because even though i am surrounded by love this is the loneliest place to be.
UPDATE: kid has bruised ribs and injury to his chest wall. He’s to stay home today and tomorrow. So i tell my boss and guess what? I still need to come in tomorrow because we are short staffed and sold out….so that means I’m Skype parenting from work for a few hours. This is the very real and un-glamorous life of single parents – having to choose to work or care for a sick kid. Somethings gotta give.