January 2010


So, obviously, having no job means not much income.  Unemployment equals right about half what Rich was making before.  Well, before the economy tanked.  Over the last few months of his employment, the company cut management’s salaries by 15%, then they quit paying into the 401K.  Then they stopped the accrual of  PTO, so goodbye to the 5 weeks vacation he had built up.

Thankfully, they did give him 6 weeks of severance, which totally saved Christmas.  For that, I am grateful.  Having no job, however, also means no insurance.  This worries me almost as much as the whole no money thing.  The year before we got married, I had was temping, with no coverage for either of the kids or myself.  I lived in fear that something dreadful would happen.  God was watching over us, though, because my Kristopher, the child of mine who has had more broken bones and stitches than anyone I know, went that entire year without one accident.  That is the only time in his life that he passed 12 months with no injuries.  I kid you not.

But this time, there are only Rich, Tony and myself to worry about.  I go to the dr maybe once a year, sometimes not that much.  I don’t take any rx meds, though I should.  Rich, on the other hand, takes 4 different pills every day.  Tony doesn’t often get sick, but he has spent time in the hospital twice in his life, when he was 3 his asthma gave him a roundtrip over night stay.  And when he was 4, a tick bit him and he spent a week with an IV curing his Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

So, naturally I was a bit concerned that Tony would suffer some other freak accident or something crazy like that.  My only option at this point is Health Choice for him, which is a form of Medicaid.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much this bothers me.  Having grown up dirt poor, I really didn’t want to ever depend on a government hand out again.  Ha, shows what happens when I get too big for my britches.  I filled out the paperwork and mailed it on the first Wednesday of December.

Saturday was my annual cookie party.  Rich and Tony grouse and grumble about being forced to leave the house and find something to do, but they love coming home to all the party food and many MANY dozens of cookies.  Not this year, though.  Tony woke up with a stomach ache, and though he was hurting, they still left.  Fast forward 3 hours, I’ve got a houseful of girlfriends, chatting and eating like only girlfriends can do.  Rich called from the ER, where they were running tests on Tony, but they were pretty sure that he had appendicitis.

Now, remember that just three days ago, I had mailed the paperwork.  Why I didn’t do it earlier, I don’t know.  I’m a slacker.  I was crossing my fingers pretty tightly that the application would be approved, and back dated.  We were at the hospital in town for about 5 hours, before they transferred him, via ambulance to the ER of the Children’s hospital an hour away.

By the time he was released Monday evening, we had racked up $18,000 worth of bills.  My stomach was in knots.  Near the end of the next week, I received the approval letter, and he was covered from the 1st of December, the date I filled it out.  Finally I could breathe…

But there was still the question of Rich’s medicines.  I made him an appointment at the Health Department.  Again, this was difficult, as my britches were apparently still too big.  The doctor there gave him prescriptions that Walmart has on their $4 and $10 plan.  Here’s the interesting bit:  his 4 meds cost $45 without insurance.  When we had insurance, and used the mail in pharmacy, they cost $100.  For the same drugs.  How much sense does that make?

I’ve always been of the mind that everyone deserves medical insurance.  I think Europe and Canada have the right idea.  I know there are bugs in every system that need tweaking, but surely something can be done for people here in America.  Now, of course, I’m one of those very people.

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This is the reason that we debated about the tree the whole month of December.  I fell in love with this tree the first time I saw it at Walmart.  I remember white Christmas trees of my youth, but I’ve never had one of my own.  Then the gorgeous new LED lights just really made the tree pop.  Everyone called it the disco tree.

For the first couple of weeks, we didn’t have any ornaments on it.  It looked good even without them.  And several people would tell me that they loved to drive by in the evening and see the disco tree standing in the window, inviting them in for a party.

But, against my better judgment, I decided to put some ornaments on after all.  I found some pretty birds and bells (I didn’t even bring any of the previous years’ ornaments in, I didn’t feel like digging  through all those boxes) that I really liked.  Little did I know that the Naughty Boys liked them, too.

Every morning and evening we had to straighten the tree, from where Chowder would climb into it.  We had it anchored to the window frame, and I kept a bottle of cat repellent handy, just waiting to catch him in the tree.  But, still, in my mind (go figure!) it made sense to try ornaments.

Well, chowder didn’t stop climbing up into his nap spot.  However, the addition of the ornaments gave Mojo some fun.  The movement of the tree would shake them, sending them plummeting to the carpet, to their doom.  Mojo would then bat and chase them around the house, knocking them into the walls and furniture, breaking more than a couple.

It quickly became clear that in order to save the poor things from total annihilation, we must remove them.  So, we had a naked disco tree once again.  But, no worries, it sure was pretty.

I can only hope that these Naughty Boys will be grown up enough to leave the poor tree alone next Christmas.  Le sigh…