As you read this I’m finally coming out of the fog. In the last week, I have had a miserable cold and I’ve also had my first surgery. Having either of them is bad enough but dealing with both simultaneously is really venturing into “worst case scenario” territory. I’ve alluded to my recent health issues on my social media and even shared a few snippets of hospital visits and of course, of my travels. What I haven’t really shared with you is why we are travelling so much, what my health issues are, why we are currently in the States, and what we have had to do to get here.
Sometimes it’s better to wait until you have the mental clarity to share a story than to just rush into it and make a mess of something that is so personal and meaningful. Today I want to share with you this life update as a means to help myself make sense of what has happened and what is still to come in my journey. Primarily though, I share this to try and help others that may be in the same position – whether it be with their health or their finances. Or better yet, to try and help you before you reach the state that I have found myself in. Grab a cuppa, cosy up in your favourite chair and please continue reading.
My Current Health Issues
I don’t know where to start. But as they say, the very beginning is a really good place to start. I suppose I should begin by making an admission – for a very long time I’ve been quite negligent with my health. Particularly, when it comes down to women’s health issues. The shame of dealing with a smear test led me to ignorantly believe that if I didn’t have one done that all was fine with me.
It was more than just dropping my pants to me. It was the shame associated with the intrusive questions about my sexual experiences and the judgement that I felt would be passed by the healthcare professionals that I was entrusting myself to. And it was the vulnerability and the ignorance that they may just find out something is wrong. Because, after all, we all think it won’t happen to us. It can’t happen to us. We are infallible.
Until we realise that we are just as vulnerable as anyone else. Because that’s life.
It all started with a sudden onset of heavy periods. Those periods that are so disruptive to your day to day life that you can’t even get out of bed for fear of the flood gates opening. The ones that make you so weak that you develop anaemia. But you do as you’re told and you take your medication until you realise that there’s still something wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, the NHS is a good system and they have saved my life once before. But I needed second opinions and decided to go see a gynaecologist privately. During my first visit, I was told that I had a big polyp that needed removing. For those, like me, who didn’t know, a polyp is a tumour or growth. As soon as I heard the word tumour I feared the worst. Then came the words “abnormal”, “pre-cancerous”, and “emergency hysterectomy”. At that point, my heart sunk.
James and I held hands and looked at each other and began inquiring about what our options were. The upside was that the process to remove the polyp could be done in an outpatient setting. The downside is that my basic private health insurance wouldn’t cover the procedure. What to do? What to do?
The Financial Implications of Being Ill
After such shocking news I could only think of one thing – going home. I’m a US citizen and all of my family lives in America. After the prospect of never being able to carry a child was presented to me I just longed to be in a familiar setting. I’m not ashamed to say, I wanted my mum. I needed her comfort and I wanted to make my way back “home”.
When something unexpected such as an illness happens it changes your world in more ways than just emotive ones. The practicality of it all is exhausting and one of those practicalities has to do with finances. I’m lucky enough that this right here is what I do for a living. I run a website and thankfully I can do that from anywhere and at any time. What I can’t do though, is count on a fixed salary so having financial options available, like being able to get small loans to see me through these difficult times has been a lifesaver. With the cost of flights, transport, medicine, and Dr’s appointments adding up having a bit of financial leeway is always welcome.
It’s been a week since I had surgery. Thankfully the worst case scenario didn’t happen and I didn’t have to have an emergency hysterectomy. My biopsy results will come in soon and if all is clear I will be able to move on to the family planning stage of my journey. Fingers crossed, everything will work out for me and I can then enjoy my last month or so here in the States before heading back to my home in the UK. If it doesn’t, I’ll still be making my way across the pond and figuring things out there.
When you’re ill you can start to feel like your world is closing in on you. Nothing really compares to knowing that you have options available to make things more comfortable during a difficult situation. Money can’t buy happiness but it can help give you peace of mind when you really need it no matter what may come your way.