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I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 09:06 AM   #1
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I'm back

I've been gone awhile.* Did anyone notice?*

Something very strange and unexpected happened,* I got sick.* Not like a cold sick.* More like incurable disease sick.* Literally overnight.* *It's a really long boring story with lots of medical terminology which I will spare you.* I spend a month being told that I most likely had multiple sclerosis.* The "good" news is that they finally figured out that it is instead a rather strange version of lupus.

It's amazing how life can turn upside down without warning, but it happens every day.* Disease, heart attack, car accident.* *You just don't think it's going to happen to you.

I don't know what will happen to my ER plans now.* The high cost or unavailability of health insurance could destroy the whole thing.* I had planned to get a high deductible catastrophic plan since I never get sick or go to the doctor.* *Now all that has changed, and I probably would not even be able to get insurance at all if I left my job, or would be thrown into the state high-risk pool.* *This sucks, since my future health is suddenly uncertain, I'd like even more to ER and enjoy what may turn out to be a shorter, less healthy retirement than I'd expected.* Martha started a good thread on the new insurance bill that everyone should read, you never know how and when it could affect you.

Anyway, I have been trying to get my feet back on the ground, and haven't given up on ER, but have had to drop back and rethink. But I'm back to the "Young Dreamers" section for now.

* I've been spending most of my online time reading neurology journal abstracts instead of financial planning sites,* but I missed this place, and I see there is a new version of FIRECalc* so...* I'm baaaaaack.....
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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 09:12 AM   #2
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Re: I'm back

I'm sorry to hear of your illness, sheryl. That really sucks. I know lupus is not a lot of fun. Can they control/manage it?

As far as health insurance goes, I think what this means is that you should seriously consider ERing in a take-all-comers state. I believe there are about 10 of them. I know NJ is one of them and IIRC Massachusetts is another. Worth reading up. Premiums will be steep, but you will be able to get coverage and at least in NJ, exemptions for pre-existing conditions are highly limited. Do some research and I think you will find that there are options for health coverage if you are willing to move.
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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 09:19 AM   #3
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Re: I'm back

Sorry to hear about your problems. :P Another option might be to go 1/2 time since a lot of places will still allow you to keep insurance.
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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 09:19 AM   #4
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Re: I'm back

Sheryl, good luck, lupus is such a strange disease, hopefully you respond well to treatment.

We have a friend who has lived with lupus for the last 20 years, and she has done a high stress Nursing Administration job.
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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 09:21 AM   #5
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Re: I'm back

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheryl
I don't know what will happen to my ER plans now. The high cost or unavailability of health insurance could destroy the whole thing. I had planned to get a high deductible catastrophic plan since I never get sick or go to the doctor. Now all that has changed, and I probably would not even be able to get insurance at all if I left my job, or would be thrown into the state high-risk pool.
Sheryl,

Verry sorry to hear of your health problems, but from the tone of your post you seem to have a good attitude about life going forward, and I applaud you for that.

As to state high-risk pools, have you taken a look at the cost of some of them? I'm far from an expert, but some are not prohibitively expensive and can be worked into your ER plans. DW is going that route when our COBRA runs out the end of November, and will be paying a monthly premium roughly 2X what the going rate would be for an individual policy. Not great, but it darn sure beats working to age 65!

In case you haven't seen it this website provides information/links to each state's insurance regulations.
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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 09:30 AM   #6
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Re: I'm back

This stinks. *From the little I know of lupus, people tend to have their ups and downs. *I hope you are feeling better now. *Maybe now is the time to ask for the part time arrangment?

What might be a suitable health plan for a healthy person is not necessarily suitable for when you get ill. *My family is in the same position as you. *No HSA or high deductible plans for us. *Instead, we want the best coverage we can get. *For us, if we stay in Minnesota, it is a risk pool. Fortunately, our risk pool is priced at only 25% higher than standard insurance. I can't remember what state you are in the northwest.

I am worried about various proposed pieces of legislation before the US Senate. *The legislation seems to make things much easier for insurance companies and much harder *and more expensive for older and less healthy consumers. *

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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 09:37 AM   #7
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Re: I'm back

Sheryl, sorry to hear about the news but sounds like you're making the best of it. Best wishes for you and your family and keep us updated as things improve. I'm sure they will.
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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 10:14 AM   #8
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Re: I'm back

What he said...

I have a friend/cow-orker with lupus; definitely a PITA, but she deals with it, and it hasn't slowed down her drinking...

Best of luck!!
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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 10:27 AM   #9
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Re: I'm back

Sorry, Sheryl.

I don't get sick often, and when I do I think how awful it must be to feel bad all or much of the time, and I know that happens to people. I try to remember that and try to remember to live for now while preparing for tomorrow. Your story is a good reminder of how quickly things can turn.
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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 11:24 AM   #10
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Re: I'm back

Thanks for all the kind words, everybody.* *As soon as I'm done researching all the "medical crap" (my internet favorites' folder title) I'll start with the "insurance crap."* I know that WA may allow me to transition to a private plan without filling out the dreaded "form" - the one that rules out anyone with major illness - but I don't know what types of policies are available, and what would happen should I then want to change companies... I still have lots to learn.

Our company will continue to cover me as long as I am here at least half time, so that is always an option for the interim.

I don't know anyone with lupus so it's good to hear the positive stories.* The Doc. said it is really like eight different diseases, depending on which particular symptoms you have - I don't have any of the typical symptoms so far.* All I have is a factor that causes me to have blood clots, and one that causes my immune system to attack my nervous system.* * It took a bite out of the lining of my spine and caused me to go numb from the chest down... that's gradually improving, and other than that I'm feeling fine.* ** *

I haven't stopped drinking either, HFWR.*
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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 12:43 PM   #11
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Re: I'm back

Welcome back, Sheryl. Sorry to hear about your illness.

I know zero about lupus, but I have heard that incidence of autoimmune diseases like MS increase the farther away you are from the equator. Something about sunshine and vitamin D production, supposedly.

So, if it were me, I would move to someplace like Hawaii -- stat!
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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 01:34 PM   #12
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Re: I'm back

Sheryl - sorry to hear about your illness but I am very impressed by your positive attitude - I wish you all the best with the treatments and stuff like that.

Great to hear that you company will provide health insurance if you work half-time. Also, I know that if you ever want to take a "low stress" part-time job just for some pocket change and benefits, IKEA has pretty good health insurance and is a nice place to work. My father works there mainly just for the health insurance and some small supplemental income.

Good luck and welcome back!
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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 02:08 PM   #13
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Re: I'm back

I am so sorry. I hope that you find the right insurance.
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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 02:27 PM   #14
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Re: I'm back

Sheryl-

So sorry to hear about your illness. I figured you went on vacation. Not a very nice vacation, I guess. Anyway, I hope to heck you start feeling better. Sounds pretty scary, but you seem to have a really good attitude and you know that is really SO important. I really believe you will beat it because you not only have such a positive attitude, you also are a determined person. You will dig to find out all you can about treatment, best doctors, insurance and everything else. When armed with all that, you have to come out on top!

Please know that we are all here for you and we are all pulling for you! Please do not give up on your dream of ER - it will come. You just have to put it on the back burner for a little while.

Take good care of yourself!

Jane

P.S. I never did tell you that I liked your new avatar - the rainbow seems especially fitting for you! (and you WILL get to that pot of gold!!)
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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 03:17 PM   #15
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Re: I'm back

You asked if anyone noticed you were gone.* Had I not been gone myself I would have noticed* , cause you and I seem to see eye to eye on many things.* Aha! so there is something worse than lupus

One more lupus story for you- - -The 30 something girl across the street seems to have largely overcome it, at least according to her Mom.* Everything now quite rosy.

Sounds as if you need to stay put at least part time until you too are victorious* 8)
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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 03:26 PM   #16
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Re: I'm back

Sheryl, welcome back. Sorry that you have been sick; I hope you will get much better very quickly.

BTW, I did notice that you were gone, but I guessed you were off diving somewhere.

Glad you checked in; we all care about you.

Mikey

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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 04:16 PM   #17
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Re: I'm back

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane_Doe
P.S.* I never did tell you that I liked your new avatar - the rainbow seems especially fitting for you!* (and you WILL get to that pot of gold!!)*
Thanks Jane - I took that picture myself! Not that I'm proud of it or anything...
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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 04:26 PM   #18
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Re: I'm back

sorry to hear that-

my g-ma has lived well with lupus for 30+ yrs. she has her downs, but mainly ups.

you can and will perservere
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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 06:43 PM   #19
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Re: I'm back

Sheryl, I'm sorry this has happened to you. Attitude is, as with most things, 99% of the battle and you seem to have that going for you.
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Re: I'm back
Old 05-08-2006, 08:00 PM   #20
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Re: I'm back

Hi, you drew me out of lurking with your diagnosis. Google "living with lupus," and some of the Web sites will really lift your spirits. You might also consider joining a support group where you can talk about your fears and needs with people in the same situation. The reputation of lupus can really freak you out, and it will always give you extra anxiety about your living arrangements that healthier people or those with diseases that are more manageable simply won't have. Get an outlet for those fears before they literally make you sicker.

I have a lot of symptoms of lupus, and my family on my mother's side is filled with people who live with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, serious allergies and other autoimmune disorders. Almost everyone has lived a very full and long life. But I can tell you from our examples that you do have to completely change your life -- health is truly your greatest asset, and you do what you have to in order to not simply survive but get and stay healthy. Many relatives went part-time, downshifted careers or simply retired right away, on Social Security disability if necessary, to preserve their health before the stress and hours worsened it beyond the point of no return. Others moved to warmer, less humid climates that were better for their health. I began doing meditation to help calm my immune system and improve my overall mind-body health, which I swear has been a lifesaver.

One friend with severe allergies recently told me she attributes her strengthening health to weight-training! I was dubious, but she said her doctor recommended it because your lymphatic system is inside your muscle tissue, and stronger muscles promote better workings of that system. It's not conventional, but it worked for her.

This brings me to another piece of advice -- it can make a world of difference to have an understanding and well-educated doctor, since there is so little known still about the disease and it involves your entire system, whereas many doctors only know how to treat a specific problem and don't look at the whole picture. I used to have doctors in college who would just prescribe a new antibiotic or steroid every time I had a different complaint ... but I kept becoming allergic to them and getting sicker and more miserable overall, until I realized the drugs were the real problem and decided I would agree to take only ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID. You can refuse treatments that you consider worse than the disease, don't forget that.

I've never heard an easy answer on the health insurance. You are lucky indeed to be able to work PT and keep it going. I want to go part-time, but I would lose my benefits. My own medical record includes all the symptoms I have but not the actual "L" word, so I am hopeful that when I stockpile enough money to afford it, I can leave my job or reduce my hours and purchase a high-deductible policy, offset by a hefty emergency fund. Some people give up completely and make themselves poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, or are forced to ring up medical bills until they declare bankruptcy. I am feverishly saving and investing toward becoming financially independent so that when I leave work, I never have to make a choice like that!
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