On Friday, September 10th, I started feeling low pelvic discomfort/fullness. I had the need to ‘check’ myself all day to see if menstruation had begun.
Saturday morning, my husband and I were intimate, and I experienced pain as I often do. :( I noticed bright red bleeding right afterwards. I assumed this was just the little pool of blood that sometimes leaks out from the cervix and sits at the end of the vaginal canal right before menstruation begins. Within half an hour of intimacy, I experienced uterine cramps which lasted all day. However, as I had hoped, the bleeding turned to spotting quickly enough, and then stopped by afternoon. For the pain, I took 600mg Ibuprofen in the late morning, then took half a Tylenol 3 and more Ibuprofen in the late afternoon.
My husband and I went to a housewarming party that night, and I brought my heating pad with me. I did need it. :( I took another half a Tylenol 3 around 9:45pm, and got all the codeine effects – dizziness, fuzzy-headed, super sleepy, heightened sensitivity to light and noise, etc. Those things don’t mix well with a very alcohol-ladden house party. We were home a few minutes before midnight…on a Saturday night…because of my pain. LAME.
The night out, despite the pain, was not too bad. I had my usual bout of social anxiety, and I was a bad girl and took a few sips of whiskey (it had honey it it, how could I not?). As we were saying we wanted to leave, the hostess said she needed to re-introduce me to a friend of hers, who also has endometriosis.
So I talked with another endo sister and stayed awhile longer at the party. ;)
She highly recommends Dr. Cook down in Los Gatos. He’s the guy who only accepts one’s money, not insurance, but the woman I talked to last night is three years post op and says the pain has not returned. She had stage IV endometriosis, and had to have one ovary removed, as well as part of her vagina, her cervix and her uterus. She also had to have part of her bowels resected, because of the endometriosis. Really bad stuff. I asked a lot of questions about the one ovary thing – since I am convinced that I’ll have to lose my left ovary eventually (this is twice now that it’s been pulled by adhesions to my uterus).
She told me that because she had so much removed, her body freaked out. She told me that although the endometriosis pain disappeared, she had to contend with nerve damage on her bowels, and all of her organs trying one by one to shut down on her. She ended up with asthma and skin lesions and extreme fatigue and all sorts of stuff, which took over a year to clear up, and only with the help of some kind of metabolic therapy. She said she was dying a slow death. To this day, three years later, she still has issues with either keeping in or letting out a bowel movement, I forget which.
Despite such horrific issues, she says she’s glad she had the surgery.
My opinion is: given the choice between knowing the behaviour of my illness and not knowing if I will die from all the pain and suffering caused by a surgery such as described above, I will always choose my illness. Given the choice between a one year recovery and my current illness, I’ll take my current illness because I miss less time off work and thusly less money. Given the choice between possible permanent nerve damage from surgery and my current illness, I might prefer my current illness. Depends on where the nerve damage, is, I guess. I don’t think I would like to have to live with bladder or bowel control issues for the rest of my life. That stuff isn’t supposed to happen until I’m elderly. :p
For over a year now, I’ve been going on about needing excision laparoscopy to properly treat my pain, and now that I’ve talked to a woman in person who has had excision done, now I am chickening out. This is silly. I can easily get just as much nerve damage from electrocoagulation surgery as I can from excision surgery. Hell, I can get organ damage just from the laparoscope going into me. So this fear stuff needs to stop.
…there’s something else. When I did a search on my blog for how many times I mentioned ‘excision’, I read back through my entries and got really mad. You know, the human brain forgets things, and there’s something to be said about that. I feel like had I just left all those feelings forgotten, then I wouldn’t be so angry as I am right now with doctors who wrote me off, with all the time I waste trying to find the right specialist, only to be slapped in the face by people saying stuff like, “DO YOU LIKE BEING IN PAIN? THEN GO GET ANOTHER ELECTROCOAGULATION SURGERY” or “I TOLD YOU ABOUT THIS PERSON A YEAR AGO, WHY DIDN’T YOU LISTEN TO ME”.
If I hadn’t read through my old blog entries, then I might not be so mad as I am right now at my husband. But the thing is, forgetting also destines one to repeat history. And this is recent history – the blog entry I’m referring to is from February – only seven months ago. We’re in a cycle, and it does no good to keep forgetting that the finances issue is a HUGE issue. I DID go to school this summer after my husband insisted that I go, and insisted that our tax return money would cover it. When the tax return money ran out towards the end of the summer and my husband had to foot $1,000 more of his own money, all hell broke loose. We’re still reeling financially and emotionally, and then I get told I must have another surgery ASAP.
Back on February 4, I said I could EITHER have surgery OR go to school because we don’t have enough money to do both. This was before our tax return. Once we got the tax return filed on February 20, my husband said I should go back to school, and I agreed. We both thought at that point that surgery could wait.
Who knew that surgery would be deemed necessary the same year? There was no way of knowing that.
But the same frustrations I expressed about our finances are still at the forefront of our relationship today. We did have that talk back in February, and he did say that he would support and help me and that he would stop being wishy-washy. The one point we did not cover was him also promising not to be grudging or angry when I need money. He never made that promise and his behaviour is still that of grudgingly handing over money when I need it.
Last Wednesday, when I got the surgery summons, I told my husband we needed to talk about finances and planning for the surgery. Friday night, we had that talk. Once again, we got into our modes. He wanted to pledge chivalrous yet ambiguous support for me during and after my surgery. I wanted to run the numbers. I broke out the calculator and my recent timecard and compared it to my earnings before summertime to get an estimate of money that could be saved between now and December, while telling my husband about bills and groceries and things that would need to be taken care of. He sat there, eyes glazed over, zoned out, then began playing a video game on his iPhone.
While running the numbers on my end, and noting his lack of engagement after he initiated the talk, I kept working but did not look at him as I spoke, telling him, “Here’s what I need for you to be doing. I need you to go through your bills and expenses and the last three months of the grocery bills, and tell me roughly how much money you have at the end of the month each month, so that I know what you have to contribute towards the surgery, since you said you would in fact take care of me during and after surgery.”
He stopped playing his game, stared at me for a moment while I continued to work without looking at him. Then he got up in a huff and stomped off to the computer room to run his numbers in angry silence.
And this is how it always goes. He’s all talk and then when it comes time for action, he gets his panties in a twist.
He DID do his numbers and we DID compare things.
The end result of my own assessment was that I cannot afford to save money for surgery to cover the co-pay (up to $1,400 out of pocket) AND any post-op care, AND bills that will still be coming due after surgery while I’ve been off work without a paycheck.
My husband’s assessment showed that he was left with just over $200/mo out of his paycheck, if he had to continue to cover all of the groceries, cat maintenance, and all of my bills post op.
I asked if my husband could set aside money out of his paycheck every payday from now until mid-December in order to have that padding available – to cover all the expenses for up to 2 months post-op. He shared that he has about $1,476 left over after bills are paid each month. I asked if he could carve out $400/mo from now until mid-December (leaving him with $1,076 total in the bank each month, but saving $1,200 to cover me), since my bills due on top of everything else are about $316/mo ($632 if he had to cover me for 2 months).
He replied that he could logically swing it, but would feel uncomfortable doing so, in case other emergency expenses came up. He said it would be cutting it too close.
The end result of his assessment is that he cannot afford to save money now to cover me post-op in December.
This pushes my surgery out to either spring break, which is one week optional work in March, 2011 (holiday daycare week), or sometime in the summer 2011, which is a fixed amount each employee can work during the summer, anyway, due to low enrollment.
At first, I was silently very angry with my husband’s refusal to save $400/mo from now until December. But I calmed down and realised that yes, $1,076 really is in fact in the red for two people, should any tiny emergency crop up. It’s just not doable, and I have to accept that.
After doing our assessments on Friday night, I did not feel any better about how we both emotionally handle things related to finances. I still do not trust that my husband will make good on his word to be there for me. It’s all on me to save the money towards the surgery co-pay and taking care of myself after surgery. I have to start saving now.
When we got married, we agreed to keep finances separate. We only got the joint account to pool money for the honeymoon. That was the only reason we got that account. And even then it didn’t really work out so well – I still put a bunch of shit on my credit cards, and used my money, and he still used his money. The fact remains that he is very guarded over the ginormous amount of money he makes in a year, and is resentful that he has to foot all of the rent and groceries. He makes roughly sixty-five thousand dollars more than me each year, and so when he has to split his income in two to support both of us, he gets pissy.
I make sixty-five thousand dollars less than him each year, so when I easily run out of money and need something, I get all pissy when he won’t just provide the money. I don’t look at it as a spoiled princess or entitled bitch thing. I look at it as a fracking charity thing.
Another thing I found out from my assessment is that missing two or three days of work each month loses me roughly $4,000 every year at the current pay rate. At my highest earnings in the dotcom days, I was losing up to $7,200/year of my paycheck because of missing work due to endometriosis. I posted a study about this on the main Living With Endometriosis site back in April, 2010. My personal cost is much higher, but I don’t know if their costs were net pay or gross pay. My assessment was gross pay.
I still feel the same as I did back in February: “I think it’s best that I just go back to pretending that this is what all women go through every month, and stop trying to treat something which ultimately probably can’t be treated, anyway. I won’t die from my condition. No matter what I’ve tried in the last 23 years, nothing has worked anyway, so why bother to continue trying to fight it. I don’t have anyone but myself to help me financially and emotionally, anyway. Same as it ever was.”