What a difference a few days make…

loveI write with a certain trepidation, because this seems too good to be true. Knock on wood for me.

While I certainly don’t want to jinx it – and I continue to suffer from some financially induced panic (doing homework for a small business class and paying the bills and buying groceries, omg! Overload!) – I think that maybe my mood has turned the corner.

If you’ve read this blog at all this winter, well what meager offerings I have been able to post, you will have noticed that I have been suffering somewhat. While I know that the troubles I experience are a result of my own decisions, like choosing to work in the arts rather than embrace the insanity that would come with stifling these impulses, the big ugly unavoidable problem has been my health. Without good insurance, there was nothing I could do but move from crisis to crisis, with small periods of vulnerable stability.

My lungs gave out in a big way over the last week and a half, as well as a few other things (back, dislocated fingers, etc.) Because I had previously had to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars to get maintenance meds per month (which I could not afford) I had been doing without anything to treat my asthma. Until I would get bronchitis. Or pneumonia. Or have an attack so bad that I was passing out. For awhile, I would bankrupt myself to get the meds to keep me alive, but then I would get a bit better, and not be able to justify bankrupting myself again the next month when I could technically breathe. I cannot express how much of the debt I carry is because of medical expenses – one month’s massive need making me have to charge other things like food or being charged themselves. It has been a vicious cycle.

At the beginning of the year, I found out that my cheap but terrible health insurance was getting canceled. Starting Feb 1st, I signed up for a plan with Maine Community Health Options. It costs me over $150 more a month ($380 A MONTH – another cause of financial panic) and seemed to be not much better than the other plan. Until I went to the doctor on Wednesday.

I found out my new health insurance covers my asthma meds! She gave me refills on all four prescriptions that keep me breathing (along with an extra to kick start my lungs and help with the back and hand) and I only had to pay $60. All of them together would have been at least $400 before. I stood there at the pharmacy, nearly weeping with thanksgiving. And this isn’t a one time deal. I will be able to get these meds as long as I can find that $380 a month. The big expense of that $60 was a rescue inhaler, which I might not even need if the maintenance medications keep coming into my hands.

I have only had these asthma medications for three days (Hosanna in the highest!) and already I feel so much stronger and less overwhelmed. Of course, I still have enough work on my to-do list to have three people doing overtime, and probably always will since I am a sole proprietor/artist. Truthfully, I am really not less broken – I still have asthma, after all – not to mention diabetes, thyroid disease and irritating neurological issues. But, with the medication, I can treat at least this one problem well enough to enjoy the movement of air through my lungs rather than wanting to cry with each breath’s pain.

A small thing, really, but something so delightful it is hard to explain its full impact.

The effects of this blessing spill over into evdancingtreeoflifeerything, too. Today, running errands, I was able to spend money on groceries (AARRGG!!! The Spending Money Guilt!!!) and lug them to my car without the help of a friend. She got to go home and sleep before her night’s work! The blessing expands out into the world.

Even the financial stress seems solvable on some level, because if I can breathe without it taking all my energy, and get stronger, maybe even treat my endocrine issues better (will insurance pay for that too?!?), then what new avenues have opened up for me? It boggles the mind!

The only thing that jars my mood, unsettling my celebration a bit, has been this thought: what mountains could I have moved if I had the right to healthcare? How much better off would my business be if I hadn’t had to struggle for breath during these last six years? How many other people cannot afford maintenance medication for issues like diabetes or asthma, and wind up lurching from crisis to crisis. Now my health insurance is still bare-bones. If I have a major crisis – an accident, get some life-threatening disease – I will absolutely financially implode (high deductable! lots of things still not covered!). Ah, but I do not want to dwell on the negatives and the injustice of healthcare in the US right now. I am deep in a state of (anxious) gratitude.

I want to tell you that being able to breathe deeply, to feel air fill all the functioning areas of my lungs without labor, to be able to hold it for just an instant without coughing, to release that breath without searing pain – this is JOY. This is a blessing. This is something marvelous – and this alone has helped to conquer despair.

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