Sunday, May 24, 2015

At least they have each other

I'm so worried about my friends in Key West. So far, for them, 2015 has been a drag.

My buddy went into the year on a high note, having gotten his book published. He had readings scheduled in coffee shops, book clubs and even one of the upper Key libraries. But then the wheels kinda came off at work. He began working crazy long hours at the office at just the same moment when he found he'd been passed over for a promotion. His book is no longer his publisher's most recent and so he's not her priority anymore. So he's rundown and a little disappointed.

But the big story is his partner. (I'l call him Dave.) He decided during 2014 that he didn't need Obamacare. He works 50 hours/week between three jobs, none of which offer benefits. Though over 50, Dave's always been rather healthy, so he chose to pay the fine rather than enroll. Then, in the fall of 2014, he had an anxiety attack that mimicked a heart attack. One of his coworkers called an ambulance. Thankfully Dave turned out to be fine ... until he saw the bill. It was more than $2000. He didn't pay it.

Dave's attitude toward finances used to be a point of contention in their relationship. My buddy's approach couldn't be more different. Things came to a head about ten years ago and they separated. They realized how much they love one another and how committed they are to the relationship and when they reconciled, decided that they must keep their money separate.

So now it's 2015. Dave has decided that insurance might be a good idea after all and he went on my buddy's policy. It has a very high deductible, but it's better than nothing -- which is what he had before. Anyway, it's a good thing he did because shortly after New Year, he discovered a growth on one of his testicles. He had tests and found it was, blessedly, most likely benign. But it has to be removed.

It's called an epididymal cyst and its removal can be done on an outpatient basis. The thing of it is, the doctor's practice insists on payment upfront and the patient will receive payment from the insurance company. They require payment of $3,500 before the doctor can do the procedure. This sounds barbaric to me. THEY KNOW THEY'LL GET PAID BY THE INSURANCE COMPANY. The thing of it is, they don't. So many people in the Keys who visit healthcare providers are either vacationing or only living there temporarily and the doctors get stiffed. Plus, there's Dave's rather dicey history with the ambulance company to consider.

Then there's the two weeks off work. Dave works as a bartender at least 35 hours/week and that's time on his feet. There's no way he can do that after having the cyst removed. He gets no paid time off from the bar, nor from his two bookkeeping clients.

Bobby, his boss at the bar, has offered to pay the hospital the $3,500 -- a loan with no finance charges -- but when Dave can return to work, he has to work for free until the $3,500 is paid off.

All things considered, Dave estimates he needs $7,500. He's in pain. He's scared.

He went to and set up an account to raise money for the surgery via social media. My buddy is mortified. Again, he has a very different approach to these things. He wants to borrow against their home (which is in my buddy's name exclusively) and if that doesn't get them where they need to be, then privately ask family.

But their deal when they moved back in together is that finances remain separate, and my buddy is respecting that. He doesn't like it, but he respects it.

For some reason, Dave's parents haven't chipped in a dime. I don't know what's going on there. But Dave's website has raised $1,795 from 20 people (including me). On the one hand, it's not enough. On the other hand, it's tax-free money they don't have to pay back, which is nice.

My buddy has made it plain that he doesn't expect me to give more (or anything), but I will. These guys are my family. They take me in and celebrate Christmas with me. They were beyond gracious to my mother and uncle -- two people they'd never met -- when those blood relatives of mine visited Key West.

My uncle left a bequest to my buddy, a coin from the Atocha. I've told them they have my permission to sell it. My uncle had terrible medical problems at the end of his own life and would understand. But my buddy is sentimental and very respectful. He was so honored that my uncle thought to give it him that he refuses to part with it, even though I'm sure they could get nearly $1,000 for it.

Anyway, here's the thing -- despite their differences, my buddy and Dave are in love and committed to one another through thick and thin. A few years ago, when my buddy was battling depression, Dave could not have been more patient and supportive. Now it's my buddy's turn.

They have been together for more than two decades. Longer than many straight couples I know. When the going has gotten tough, they didn't throw in the towel. The bad times have made their relationship stronger.

I'm grateful they're together.

And I'll be glad when this is behind them.

Sunday Stealing

Very Much Questions Meme

1. What was the last clothing item that you bought? Haven't bought anything since the blue shoes at DSW last month. I really need some new belts. I hope the next time this question comes up, I'll have belts to report.

 2. If you could stay one age forever, what age would you choose? 35. I felt very womanly and sexy at 35.

3. When you say “lol”, are you really laughing? Seldom

4. What is the most interesting thing you’ve done in the past year? I think the Titanic exhibit in Las Vegas was the most interesting. Certainly the most sobering. Doomed souls actually looked out those portholes.
An actual piece of the Titanic, and I was thisclose

5. If you started a business, what would it be? I've thought about becoming a petsitter.

6. Do your friends/family/coworkers know about your blog? God! No.

7. How long does it take you to write an average blog post? 15 minutes/half hour

8. How do you keep up with the blogs you follow? I click on the links at right.

9. What is your bedtime? When I go to bed. No real schedule.

10. Introvert or extrovert? I'm an extrovert who thrives on alone time.

11. What is your biggest wish? That everyone I love stays healthy. I have my concerns. More about that later.

12. What is the best job you ever had? I was very happy developing packaging copy for a haircare company. It was fun.

13. Dog person/cat person/both/neither? I suppose I'm a cat person, but I like dogs, too.

14. If you had $1,000 to spend any way you wanted, what would you do with it? I'd buy a purse and a belt, and I'd send the rest to my friends in Keys. (Health problems in that household. More on that in a later post.)

15. How do you “dress” your toast? Butter and syrup.

16. How do you feel about snow? With both hands. Tee hee. I like snow.

17. What was the worst job you ever had? I was working for a software developer. He had no idea what he needed me to do, and the days just dragged on ... and on ... Fortunately I was in love and in a long distance relationship, so I was able to use the time to write epic letters.

18. What song can you not stop listening to? It changes. These days it's unbeatable the combination of Sinatra and the greatest city in the world.

19. Love your name or hate it? Don't think about it much.

20. How did you choose your blog/twitter handle? It was available.

Good to remember

I went to my local food pantry yesterday. It was the first time I'd been to the actual location in months.* It's in a church basement, and as I trotted down the stairs with my donation, the first words I heard were, "Who needs a ticket? The wait this morning is two hours."

Two hours! Now granted, the wait may have been unusually long because it's a holiday weekend, but still, that's a long time for my neighbors to wait for four cans of vegetables/fruit/soup, frozen meat, and bread designed to last a week. (The rules state a household may only visit the food pantry once a month. Otherwise there won't be enough to serve everyone in need.)

People are always generous around Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. The good spirits surrounding these special days just make helping others top of mind. But we must remember that need extends into summer, too.

Especially because kids don't take advantage of school lunches in summer. I'm glad I included a package of cookies and a bottle of mustard along with all the soup and tuna. I like thinking that somewhere in my community, kids are going to enjoy hot dogs for lunch with chocolate sandwich cookies for dessert.

Every time I visit the grocery or drugstore, I pick up something that costs $1 or less. There's always something on sale -- a can of peas, a packet of mashed potato mix, a box of mac and cheese. I never notice the expense and it makes me happy to see that, in no time, I have enough food to share with my neighbors.

If you don't know where the local food bank is in your area, click here.

*I donate food to the organization regularly via the drop box at our Visitors' Center, but this summer The Center is being renovated.