Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What is worth crying about

This afternoon I got a call from a debt collector.

Getting help meant getting bills. It's one thing to finally accept that you need some assistance with postpartum depression; it's another thing to pay off all that assistance for months and months. We had to borrow thousands of dollars from my parents to pay off the medical bills from my therapy program and from my knee surgery I needed just a few months later. The bills keep piling in, like terrible little surprises waiting in our mailboxes. They are literally dozens to keep up with - maybe 50 different accounts from different hospitals, doctors, labs, specialists. (Did you know that when you receive care over several months, medical folks create different accounts for each month? So there are three bills for each of my therapy doctors/hospitals/etc.) It's a paperwork nightmare, not to mention a financial nightmare. It's so embarrassing. I'm so ashamed.

So I've gotten a few calls from debt collectors before, but I've managed to avoid answering the phone. This time I did, and she gave me a long introduction about how she represented a law firm that needed $400 now. Like, right now. I told her I didn't have that right now. I didn't know when I would have that. I just went Christmas shopping and spent $90. If I had known, I wouldn't have got presents. She told me I had to pay or it would ruin my credit report. She asked me questions about what L and I earn, how much we take home, how much our bills are. She suggested we cash in our 401ks to pay our bills.

I started crying.

She told me to calm down and that it wasn't worth crying about. I told her it was worth crying about. We didn't have $400 and we weren't going to have an extra $400 any time soon. We have so many medical bills. We're just trying to stay organized and stay afloat.

I tried to stay calm and not take it personally, but I was so angry that she told me it wasn't worth crying about. How would she know? How would she know what in my life is worth crying about? How dare she.

For most people who get help, treatment has a price tag. There are so many treatment options - counseling, medicine, electric shock therapy. But there is an epilogue of getting treated. Bill after bill comes in the mail. I am so thankful we at least have good insurance. We have spent thousands of dollars this year, and our insurance company has paid out tens of thousands. If we didn't have insurance, we would have no options.

Every check I write for these bills makes me feel guilty and selfish. I think, "If I was a stronger mom, a better mom, I wouldn't have had to go for treatment in the first place." I know in my head that this isn't true, but my heart aches. I feel like a burden to my family.

So I'm grateful we have insurance. I'm grateful I got help. Now we the first thing we have to do is take care of this bill. I don't know how but we have to. I think I will return some of the presents and maybe not visit my dad for the holidays. We can cut out some things and make it. It will be all right. But it's OK to cry about it.

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