Monday, December 08, 2008

Just a little anxiety please

It’s amazing how one minute I can feel so calm and serene about life, and the next be on the verge of a panic attack wondering what I’m going to do next.

I haven’t done much with my artwork in years. I haven’t had time. I haven’t had the eye stamina after long days of writing and editing. And now I’m rediscovering this hobby, although I’m a little out of practice.

I finished the artwork for Ryan and Sara’s wedding program. They seem be okay with it, although I’m not entirely happy with the result. It’s performance anxiety. When I’m doodling with my paint sometimes the most amazing things happen and I can’t even believe I did it – but when I try to do something on purpose suddenly I’m all thumbs.

In the back of my mind I’m picturing Ryan’s future grandchildren going through some trunk in the attic someday and finding that program. After they get past figuring out who great aunt Heather was, I can picture them saying to themselves, “What’s this? What was she doing?”

Now I’m going to have to spend the next few decades sending paintings to Ryan’s family as future heirlooms so that a hundred years from now someone might think I actually could paint. HA!

The other project I’ve been working on was Christmas crafts for the HPS Christmas concert. Those were much easier and I had a ball.

For some reason I have a very hard time allowing myself do spend time doing the things I really enjoy. There’s some sort of sick work ethic afoot that says you’re not allowed to have fun before the work is finished – but the work is never ending. Thus, when I try to make time I feel guilty that I’m not doing something more important.

But, with this concert deadline upon me, and knowing this was a fundraiser, and knowing how badly we need money – suddenly I had justification to play in my paints guilt free! I had so much fun last week. I’ve been calm. I’ve been happy, relaxed and had low blood pressure.

Then today came.

Life sent me a reality check. Donna’s been helping me with my disability paperwork and I hadn’t wanted to bug her on the eve of the big concert. But now it’s crunch time. My last check, small as it is, is next week. If I don’t get approved for long-term disability I’m not sure how I’m going to pay rent Jan. 1st. I would be okay between now and then except that I might have to eat before January, and several of my scripts need filling. Next week I’ll probably burn another $70 to $80 getting to KUMed and getting my stitches out from the biopsies. Oh, and then I’ve got to pay for the health insurance. Just a few minor expenses – and then there’s saving back $100 to get to and from the airport for Ryan’s wedding and my NIH trip – and a little mad money for the week I’m there. Expenses just come up when you travel.

If I knew a check was coming January 1st, I’d be fine. It’s the what if – what if someone at the insurance company doesn’t see this as a slam dunk case as everyone tells me it will be? What if the paperwork sits on a desk for an extra week or so and the check doesn’t arrive for weeks? I’m a control freak. I want to know that everything is planned out and ready.


Then I looked at my calendar. I realized how close Christmas really is and I panicked again. I have all of these hand-made gifts I’ve planned this year, and I don’t have a lot of time to finish them.

I spent part of the day working on HPS things – part of it scrounging through medical records etc.

And then I went to the mailbox. The COBRA forms have arrived with a nice thick book. I sat down and read almost all of it immediately. There’s good news and bad news.

The good news is I had been told my COBRA would be about $500. If I keep the dental coverage (and I’m debating that) it will be $460. Not a lot of difference, but when every penny counts it helps. I also learned that if the social security administration finds me disabled within the first 60 days of my COBRA coverage, I can keep COBRA for 29 months and not 18 – and that would bridge the gap to Medicare. If I can only figure out how to pay rent, health insurance, huge copays and also eat this might work, but right now the numbers just don’t work out. I’m wondering what the earnings rules are for long term insurance (not SSDI) coverage? If I earn a little something am I going to mess up my coverage all together? Earning a few extra dollars here and there isn’t really the same thing as going back to work – and if I can land a gig or two might not be out of the question. It would only take an extra few hundred a month to make this all work and avoid Medicaid and maybe not loose everything trying to qualify.

The other catch is what exactly do they mean by finding one disabled? Is that the actual award date, or the date they determine you were “disabled?” I have a feeling it will take social security longer than two months to process my application. And there’s no promise I’ll get it on the first try.

Of course the easiest way for me to earn a few extra dollars would be to freelance – and right now there are unemployed journalists everywhere. Detroit thinks they have it bad – have you taken a look at local newsrooms or magazine editorial staffs lately?

I do have to say that all through this process God has provided. One of the weeks I had no income a check showed up in the mail that was totally unexpected. Someone wanted to reprint a story I wrote seven years ago, but the publication had only bought first North American rights, so they had to purchase it again to use it in a book they were putting together. It was as if money just fell from heaven when I really needed it. Last week when I realized I misbudgeted my medical needs by $40 I got a Christmas envelope from a family member with $50 that I would have never anticipated. God is providing.

But did I mention I’m a control freak? Oh ye of little faith……

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