The Many Costs of Illness

On October 20th I was the coolest mom ever and surprised my kids when I picked them up from their dad’s house with a trip to Halloween Haunt at Worlds of Fun AND season passes for the remainder of this season and all of next season to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun. In true mom form, those season passes also count as Christmas presents AND they were running a killer sale.

::Hold for Applause::

I woke up that morning with a bit of a cough and feeling a little crappy, but I have seasonal allergies and the weather was certainly being seasonal so I didn’t think much of it. I went to work that morning super excited to pick the kids up that afternoon with my surprise. In hindsight I should have canceled the trip to the amusement park since as the day wore on my cough was getting worse and I was exhausted, but I am nothing if not committed to things that end up being terrible for me, as my relationship history, eating habits, and finances can attest to. So off to Worlds of Fun we go, the kids super excited by the prospect of spending a bunch of my money and arguing over what they were going to do next.

The night started well enough, we wandered through the park stopping at rides, where my primary job is to hold all of the kid’s stuff while they ride. I accept my responsibility as baggage handler gladly, especially this time since as the night wore on I was feeling worse and worse but I was determined to let the kids do their thing. Then my night got worse.  We had only been through one “fright zone” and only briefly, before the fog machines were at full power.  Oh, the fog machines. Fuck the fog machines. Suddenly I couldn’t stop coughing, my head was pounding and we didn’t go home because damn it, we are going to have fun, even if I almost die doing it.

I surived the night, we came home and went to bed. Well the kids went to bed. I’m not sure it counts as going to bed when you’re up every hour coughing. We all get up in the morning and I’m sick. I’m pretty sure it’s just a cold, of course, so I head into work, miserable but convinced I’m overreacting.  I was a zombie at work, useless at home, my kids were getting worried and probably feeling a little neglected, I’d been skipping the gym. This goes on until Halloween. I missed 2 days of work in that time when I was just entirely too sick to even think about trying to make it through the day.  The amount of Mucinex, cough drops, and Vick’s VapoRub I bought; I’m pretty sure my local Walgreens thought I was trying to open my own shop. Finally on Halloween I got a call from my daughter’s school, she was sick, they think it’s strep throat and I need to come get her.  On my way to her school I called the doctor’s office to make her an appointment, and as an afterthought I asked for one for myself as well since I clearly wasn’t getting better.

I pick up Sarah, and we head straight to the doctor, we don’t mess with strep around here. Fortunately Sarah didn’t have strep, just a sore throat from some allergy related drainage. Then it was my turn, the cold I just couldn’t shake turned out to be a respiratory infection, sinusitis, and an ear infection. Because I haven’t met my deductible yet, it’s all out of pocket. So that was a fun $90.  Then we’re off to the pharmacy since I’ve been prescribed an antibiotic, a steroid inhaler, and an industrial strength cough suppressant which run me another $100, because, again, I haven’t yet met my deductible.

We spend the evening at my mom’s that night, the kids hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters since Sarah couldn’t go out, I tried not to die, and we celebrate my impending birthday by ordering some food and watching movies. Fortunately I’d already taken the next day off for my birthday and I spent the entire day in pajamas on my couch watching Netflix while I tried to breathe. I returned to work the next morning, still not well, enough so that my coworker demanded I leave a couple hours into my shift. He was right. After that day I started to get better, though I can honestly say it was another two weeks before I could say I felt good, and I’m still dealing with some symptoms.

Now there’s the other kind of recovery. My house is still a mess, though it’s getting better, I’m caught back up at work, my kids recognize me again, and I’ll get back to the gym next week. Financially I’m starting to recover too. When you only make ~$2000/month, an unexpected $300 can really wreck a budget not to mention the 20 hours of sick time I had to use after missing work that I now can’t use to cover another emergency.

There was another cost to all of this as well, mostly to my mental health. I felt useless, I couldn’t do my job well, I wasn’t taking care of my kids, I couldn’t even keep up with my housework. I spent my 39th birthday on my couch alone and feeling irrationally dejected because I couldn’t fuction well enough to even enjoy it. I had to stop going to the gym since I couldn’t breathe, so on top of it all I was feeling fat and lazy. It weighed on me, it still weighs on me. After all these years ‘doin’ it on my own’ I’ve never figured out how to let myself falter without falling apart a little and digging whatever hole I’m in a little deeper.



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