I’m going to go on and on and on about some things that are bugging me.
(This entry should really be titled: "Here’s to your m*therf#cking health!")
First up: my health. I have this wretched autoimmune disease that has to be managed with prescription medication. I have tried herbs and special diets and other lifestyle changes. It has to be the drugs for now, and that’s working (or was) so I do it even though I don’t like to. My symptoms recently got worse, despite the medicine, so I saw my doctor today. I have to take prednisone. It was all I could do not to cry in her office, and I did cry in the elevator. What a baby I am. But, prednisone has nasty side effects. It causes stomach upset, immune system suppression (including effectiveness of vaccines), decreased calcium absorption, irritability and weight gain, to name a few. I’ve already gained ten pounds since January, which is a big deal to me since I am only five feet tall and out of clothes that fit. All I can think is that I’m going to look like Jerry Lewis, poor guy, did at the telethon the year he was on steroids. My one other encounter with a steroid like this left me with a yeast infection that took weeks to get rid of. So, I am really pissed off right now.
And tearful. And then feeling stupid for being tearful when things could really be so much worse. They could be better, too, though.
Second: health coverage. We are considered to be low income, especially given the area where we live. John’s job is technically part time (though he ends up working when he is theoretically off) and so has no benefits. Willow and I both have preexisting conditions that make it impossible to purchase private insurance, and we couldn’t afford the premiums if we were healthy (and thus not really in need of health care. . . ). There is help, of course, through the county and state welfare system. We have been really blessed in lots of ways in that area. Willow’s birth and nicu stay and bout with anemia and feeding tube and physical therapy and eye exams (and on and on) have been covered by medi-cal, which is California’s version of medi-caid. My coverage is called Ability to Pay. I pay a set amount (twenty bucks) for each visit no matter what labs or medicine I receive. This has been literally a life saver for me. I only wish I could somehow pay more and get a tubal ligation, but they won’t do it. Grrrrrr. Anyway, after John got his current job, his salary increased enough to make us pretty much ineligible for Willow’s medi-cal. We still have the coverage, but now with a share of cost at $1450 per month. That means that any expenses under that amount are our responsibility, anything over is paid by medi-cal. For our family right now it means no medical care for Willow except for in a real emergency.
There are other programs, though, and I applied for one when the share of cost was added to Willow’s medi-cal. I was told that we’d qualify and just needed to fill out the (REAMS) of paperwork, which I did. Today I got a letter from the place that said Willow’s case was being sent to medi-cal for review and would be decided in 45 days. I called and said that she has medi-cal but we cannot afford the share of cost, and would like to pay the premium to have the ultra low cost coverage. Guess what? We are too poor to qualify. We currently earn a few hundred bucks a month under the minimum, so we are being bounced back to medi-cal, which we can’t afford to use.
There is a full time position opening up this fall at the school where John teaches and it would have benefits, but he is not likely to get it given that another candidate for the job has been there three years longer than him. I have thought about getting a job just for the benefits, but there are problems with childcare and also I couldn’t hold down a job because of the nature of my illness, which is gross and you just don’t want to know.
The other frustrating thing is that while I do appreciate the welfare, the system is profoundly hard to navigate. I am pretty smart. I didn’t graduate from college, but I was a senior when I dropped out. 😉 Every time I call or visit an office in person I am told something different. We are talking probably twenty phone calls and three office visits in the past two plus years, and every. single. time. I am given different information. They need to streamline this stuff, really, really badly.
I’m still cranky (and the medicine I have to take will make me crankier?? Oh, shit!) but I do feel better getting this all out. And, my mom said she’d give me some money to buy new bigger elastic waisted clothes at Target or Old Navy.