Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I am happy to share the following post for Endometriosis Awareness Month.

My friendo Jeanne for has been amazingly supportive since I started blogging (almost one year ago). She was the first person from cyberspace to leave me a comment on my brand new blog. Ever since then, she has been an incredible friend to me. Her blog, Chronic Healing, is wonderful and informative. She is always looking out for endo patients in many ways. I am so blessed to have her as my friend. I was so honored when she asked me to write a guest post for her blog for Endometriosis Awareness Month. Today, we are cross-posting my guest post here and on her blog. I highly recommend checking out her other posts for March and perusing her archives.

Here is my guest post for Chronic Healing:

Endometriosis Awareness Month: Financial Fallout

I was diagnosed with endometriosis six years ago after years of pain and misery. My life has changed in many ways because of my disease. Lately, the financial consequences of my endo weigh heavily on my mind. The largest financial toll has been over the last year.

I was incapacitated by my endometriosis symptoms in January 2010. My endo pain flared & raged and didn’t relent for months. I was unable to work. When my FMLA time ran out, I was given two medical leave extensions from my employer. I was healing from major surgery when my second extension expired and I was fired from my job. My employer said I “voluntarily abandoned” my position in a shady attempt to prevent my unemployment benefits.

I would have been able to return to work the week after I lost my job. I fought through two appeals with my former employer to receive unemployment.

The majority of our financial burden fell on my husband. Without him, I would not make it financially. My monthly unemployment amount isn’t enough to even pay my mortgage, not to mention my other bills. I am not complaining; I am grateful for the unemployment benefits. Still, the truth is, it’s tough to survive on the amount I receive. When my weekly benefit amount was determined, three months of my FMLA time were factored into the equation. In other words, three big fat zeroes were included in the average. Those zeroes did not help my cause.

I have been well enough to work for months but I haven’t had any luck finding a job. As the blank space widens between the present and my last job, I know my chances of finding work grow slimmer. How do I explain my joblessness to potential employers? It’s quite a dilemma. There’s no good response. The truth won’t help me secure a job. It’s hard to imagine an employer excited to hire a person who was too sick to work for six months. Besides, my medical condition and history should be private. The only other option is to be untruthful, but there isn’t a lie I can conjure to adequately explain my situation. Employers don’t like gaps in employment, period.

Now, add in all of the medical bills I acquired over the six month period -- two surgeries, three ER visits, several doctors’ appointments, and expensive medication. Trust me, the math is depressing. When I was fired, I had just met my insurance out-of-pocket maximum for the year. I had to start all over with my new insurance. (My difficulty finding insurance coverage is a whole other story). The only insurance I was able to obtain comes with a hefty $5,000 deductible and they don’t pay a penny until I hit that amount. Ouch. Since I have no clue how my endo will progress from this point, I have no idea what medical needs may arise. Any medical care will be expensive. I guess I was lucky to even find an individual insurance plan though; my husband was denied coverage by every local insurance company due to a pre-existing condition.

My list of financial worries goes on and on and on. I don’t know if I’ll ever get back on track and it’s terrifying.

Most days, I don’t let money concerns consume me. I remind myself of all of my blessings. I try to keep it all in perspective and remember it is just money. However, I do have days when the weight of my financial worries collapse upon me and make it difficult to breathe. I need to have faith and believe I will make it through this tough time. When I get stressed about money, I have to remind myself that my financial troubles pale in comparison to the physical and emotional pain my endo symptoms have caused me.