Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Wish List

I end up doing a lot of financial counseling as a therapist. Money is a pretty big topic for people, loaded with issues of power, control, and desires. The amount of debt the average American carries around is pretty staggering. When I suggest to people that they save and wait until they can pay for ______ (fill in the blank) with cash, the look on their faces is priceless. But then I would have to wait! And that is usually unacceptable.

Anyhow, this blog isn’t actually about money. It is about how Tim and I tried to manage our own selves and our finances. We started out with more debt that income. We set up a strict budget and also developed a wish list. We were always wanting to remodel something or other. I truly don’t think there is one part of our house or the property it sits on that hasn’t had some kind of makeover.

We kept our check register in Excel so I didn’t make any math mistakes. Underneath our balance, there was always a long list. We would discuss what we wanted to see happen and then prioritize what was most important to us. The most expensive items generally stayed on the bottom of the list.

In my conscious mind, I never really had some kind of mission to make all our dreams happen. As I reflect back though, it makes me feel tremendous inside that we accomplished so much. When Tim got sick, we discussed his bucket list. He didn’t have anything wild. I was pushing for an African Safari but he had much simpler goals. The summer he was diagnosed, we had already made arrangements to start remodeling the pool. It was a three-year plan we sorted out with the pool company so we could afford to pay for it. Tim wanted to finish it in one swoop. He wasn’t really thinking he only had one summer left, but just in case, he wanted to spend it looking at the finished project we had been waiting a decade to start. With the help of a whole ton of people, this was what happened.

56 Creekward- pool remodel

56 Creekward- pool remodel

Not bad, eh? We had a new concrete patio put in, resurfaced the pool surface, and did some other repairs. Some of the balance was paid by the proceeds of the benefit that was thrown in Tim’s honor. He was so proud of the home he made and wanted to leave us with something to enjoy. We certainly have and everyone knows they are welcome to swim here anytime. (And they do!)

A year after Tim died, I was suddenly hit with the idea of finishing the basement. Tim’s dream was to make it a sports’ bar after he retired. He could work on it slowly and use all the memorabilia he had built up over his lifetime. That became my mission on the year anniversary of him leaving us. It wasn’t very expensive to do, but I tried hard to imagine what he would have wanted it to look like and I think we did a pretty good job with it. It is now dubbed “Frankie’s Man Cave.”

Two years ago I got the house resided. Now that was ridiculously expensive. We found a super good crew and it looks beautiful. The trim got changed to gray and I made sure every spot had the vinyl product so I don’t have to keep hiring people to paint every few years. It is now maintenance free and Tim would have loved it. The irony is, I would have never been able to pay for it without his life insurance money. It is sad, but I try to look at it like he participated in it a different way than if he were still physically with us.

This year, I had a contractor redo the gazebo. The goal was to be maintenance free. Painting it was a horrible job and I am always trying to find ways to be more independent. Like any other job, once they started taking things apart, the job was bigger than anticipated. There was no shortage of rotted wood. IMG_20160621_085804533

Imagine my surprise when I saw that at the end of the first day. Yikes! But alas, here is the finished project:
IMG_20160623_124528057_HDR

And the best part is the maintenance free, beautiful floor. It warrants its own picture:
IMG_20160623_124536098

Isn’t it gorgeous? Who would have thought you could love a floor that much.

It hit me the other day. The gazebo was it. It was the very last thing on our wish list. So Tim, it has taken me almost six years without you here, but we have managed it. Our house is what we worked hard for and dreamed big on. I know there will be maintenance and repairs forever, but this was the last of our visions together now realized.

So come on over and take a dip in the pool and enjoy our hospitality. The goal was always to have a place where people would feel comfortable coming. We never wanted to be private or alone. It’s been hot so far so don’t suffer. Come jump in and celebrate with us. xoxo!


2 Comments

Brick Walls

Part Five

Thanks for all the comments and support. People get outraged when they hear what happens and the assumption is that something can be done about it. The reality is, probably nothing will ever happen to that doctor or that hospital. They will have to investigate because I filed a complaint, but the chances of anything actually changing or being done about it, are probably less than 2%. I’m not exaggerating.

Anyhow, I think I’m done with the day by day accounting. It’s just too depressing. So again, just a couple more highlights.

When you are admitted to a psych unit or facility, they take all of your belongings. Emily told us that the hospital finance person had approached her at least three times to tell her she needed to pay the thousand dollar deductible in order to be discharged. This upset her because she kept explaining to them that her purse had been taken so she didn’t have her credit card to give them.

Now understand, Spencer and I are having to sort out if Emily is comprehending things fully or not by this point. Did that really happen? Spencer handled this one. He called their insurance company and was told that of course that was not an appropriate procedure for the hospital. The insurance rep called the hospital and kept Spencer in on a three-way call. They got a hold of the woman directly and she verified that indeed, there was no misunderstanding. That is their protocol at the hospital. The conversation got pretty heated but the gist of it, was that this is NOT appropriate for three reasons:

1. Emily is not the primary insurance holder. Any conversations about deductibles or any other coverage questions should have gone through Spencer.
2. It is not normal procedure to trouble a patient about finances while they are currently still being treated.
3. It is just completely lacking in common sense when the patient happens to be having mental health issues and hasn’t even been coherent for 48 hours yet. Really??

Spencer made it clear as well that when his wife was discharged (which couldn’t be soon enough at this point) they would not be given a dime. He had been paying on his deductible all year, and the hospital would have to do what every other medical facility has to do. They bill the insurance, and then the patient pays the difference. That is just the norm and it absolutely makes logical sense. The finance person finally reluctantly agreed and then said she was hanging up because she thought the conversation was getting hostile.

Don’t even get me started with health insurance. I have heard so many ridiculous stories or experienced them myself that I could write another book just on that. Honestly, is there no common sense anymore? I have no idea if the insurance company will follow-up with that hospital, but if it were me, I would be extremely concerned to know that patients are being pressured while still in treatment. Let’s face it. People pay the money to get out of that hell hole. When the hospital finds out that the patient has already filled the deductible, what do you think the chances are that the hospital gives the money back to the patient? Now I don’t consider myself cynical or paranoid but let’s be honest. The hospital has probably ripped off thousands of patients. And oh yeah, let’s remember these are patients who also happen to be mentally unstable. That’s really special.

I recently got feedback that I can come across as bitter. I disagree. I also got the feedback that I seem angry, not bitter. There really is a difference. I am pissed off at the things I see. And I’m beyond enraged that I can’t seem to do a damn thing to help make it better. No matter how hard I try.