Friday, June 10, 2016

Precious Time

This is my first post in seven days. That's the longest period of time I've had between posts since I started last October. I hate going that long without posting, but I've had good reason. For one, I've wanted to wait until I had definitive word about my Medicaid coverage. For another, I haven't had time. Between the work I have to finish and the amount of time and energy I had to waste fighting to keep my coverage, there has been no time for writing.

Time. I've long regarded time as the most precious commodity there is. That's especially true for me now. For decades I've said that time is much more expensive than money. We can always make more money, but none of us can get more time. And we tend to think we own the time that we have. I believe it was in The Screwtape Letters that C.S. Lewis said that people tend to think we are the lawful owners of 24 hours per day. If someone interferes with our plans, they're wasting "our time."

Naturally, in my situation, time has become even more precious. It's an even bigger temptation to be jealous of "my time." I want to make the most of whatever amount of time I have. But over the course of the last month, I've wasted a lot of precious time fighting a losing battle. I've wasted time that I couldn't afford to waste, and I feel very discouraged because of it.

I learned the full reasons why we were disqualified for Medicaid yesterday by spending the afternoon at the main local office, speaking to an "eligibility technician." I can't go into detail without revealing private information, but I learned that I can reapply soon, and will be approved if I do. However, I also learned what the income threshold is to qualify, and I learned last night that we can't live on that little and survive.

Here's the key distinction between Medicaid eligibility and other U.S. government standards, like what's taxable, and what disqualifies one from disability benefits. Neither disability nor the IRS count financial gifts against you. But Medicaid does. I learned that yesterday. We don't have to report the money that was contributed recently to our GoFundMe campaign on our taxes for this year, but I would have to report it to Medicaid. Everything counts with them. That alone makes it impossible for us to live on the amount that would qualify us.

So we have no choice but to enroll in a private health insurance plan. We will get a substantial subsidy, which will make our premiums low, but there's no subsidy for the deductible. As I was wasting time fighting this for the past few weeks, I asked each person I talked to about this how I was supposed to pay out of pocket for treatment until my deductible is reached, given my income, which they had in front of them. None of them had an answer.

But it was when I learned that it was futile to try for Medicaid coverage again because we can't afford to live on the amount we'd have to limit ourselves to that I felt that all of the effort, emotional upheaval, and precious time I'd spent had been for nothing. I could have enrolled in one of the plans that are available a month ago, and skipped all of this grief. But I felt I had to fight it. As a result, I am discouraged. I feel like giving up.

In addition to the deductible I have to meet, the company that my therapist works for doesn't take private insurance. Only Medicaid. I have help from a good friend to pay for my therapy, but I don't feel like I should ask him to pay for that for very long. I never planned to be in therapy for that long anyway, but now I feel like I need to set a time limit for it. Maybe that's a good thing, long term. But it doesn't feel good to me right now. After the month I've had, I need therapy.

Before I go on feeling sorry for myself, I should remind myself of what's happened in the past two weeks. I need to count some blessings.

First, the financial support that I've received should serve as confirmation that I don't need to worry about meeting my deductible. God will provide.

Second, let me talk a little about last Monday, and how positive it was in the middle of all of this negativity. This past Monday began with an incredible face to face and heart to heart time with someone who has been very precious to me since she was two years old. Today she's 30. Yes, I am old. If I try really hard to see past my discouragement today, I can still feel the emotional impact of that time. Precious time. Monday ended with dinner with some very close friends, and our conversation was all about an exciting trip we're going on together six or seven months from now. I still know that I am loved. The Love Part is still good. It's the best part of all of this.

I almost wrote this post last night, when I was really feeling down, even more than I am now. The title I had for it involved a swear word. If you think this post has been negative, it's been sweetness and light compared to what I would have written last night. I joked to my wife that it would have been my most popular post ever. When I look at what my top ten all time posts are in this blog, all but two of them are what I would consider "negative" posts. More positive posts like my last post, The Love Part, don't get as much traffic. I find that interesting.

What I am discouraged about is not that I have to get private insurance and meet a deductible. It's already been made clear to me that I don't need to worry about that. What I'm discouraged about is the precious time that was wasted, which I can't afford. It's time that I'll never get back.

I'm also discouraged about the emotional turmoil that I needlessly put myself through arguing with people about this. People whose job is customer service, and who had compassion for my situation, but whose hands were tied by the rules they have to enforce. In the end, all of the distress I put myself through was for nothing. I was like Don Quixote tilting at windmills. In my emotional state, that was not good. I put myself through a month of grief for nothing.

I believe that God will make something good out of this. I believe that, when I look back on this time, I will see that God was at work. But it's hard for me to feel that right now. Precious time was wasted. When you believe that you may only have a few years left, one month is really expensive. I have to take that into account before I try to rage against the machine again. Time is precious. I can't afford to waste any more of it. #waroncancer


  1. Sorry I haven't been around, I have missed your posts.....just had major surgery and am recovering. But what I wanted to say to you after reading this post is, throw away the word " time" just live in the " moment". I think we so much worry about time and if it's going past us or not going fast enough that we are NOT enjoying the time we are in the moment. Your right God will work out all the details, as for you I would encourage you to forget about time, just live life right now. Enjoy the sweet smile of your wife, the blessings of your friends, the beauty of the day. This surgery really woke me up as to how I felt time had to be controlled. But not anymore, let it go and enjoy this very second. Hugs and love my friend.

    1. I'm sorry to hear about your surgery, Tilda! I mean Huckleberry... I'm glad to hear that you're recovering. Thanks for your comment. You're right about what my outlook should be. It's just that I'm struggling to meet a deadline, and I could have used all of that time getting more constructive things done. And I could have saved myself a lot of frustration too. But lesson learned. Get well soon!

  2. Mark, I 'get' the disappointment in spending time that does not bear the fruit we expect. But before you hang your hat on the tree of disappointment, consider the value your experience and your blog have to others. Have you considered that your time and associated effort were not for yourself? That the value in reminding your readers of the preciousness of time might supersede your personal needs? There's nothing more personal than a health crisis, except perhaps the inability to fund our own treatment. I get it. I'm living it. Differently perhaps than you are, but your struggles simply aren't your own, my friend. Sometimes our struggles pay someone else's debt, in different, unknown, divine ways.

    Don't underestimate the value in sharing your struggles. Your words hold untold value to me and my struggle with cancer. Just knowing I'm not alone; that I have a brother in this fight, is priceless. I find no joy in your struggles but I find them priceless in ways I cannot express. You have others walking similar paths that wait for your every post. Just a chance to know someone like you understands.

    Today at treatment, a fellow patient made a simple yet profound statement to me. He said, "Cancer changed me." He went on to describe the positive, enlightening ways cancer changed him. His main point, was that cancer brought him to understand there is nothing more valuable on this earth than the love we share with others. No matter your struggles, I always feel your love coming thru.

    You're right. One month is expensive, but if it turns out your month was a gift to someone else, would you still think it a waste?

    Hugs to you. We'll get together as soon as we're both up to it.

    1. Thanks, Robert, for that insightful comment. Of course you're right. I really hope that my blog helps others. I'm very touched that it helps you. You have no idea how much it meant to hear that there are those who wait for my every post. I'm sorry you had to wait so long for this one! And if my complaining about the time I lost to this fruitless fight helps someone else avoid that, then maybe it was worth it. Thanks for the encouragement you bring to my journey. See you soon.

  3. As always you're in my heart. Perhaps there's a way to help that could go directly to a provider, or gift cards for grocery stores?
    Just thinking of what and how.

    1. Thank you, Janice. And you are always in mine. it is possible to pay for things the way you describe, but it's complicated to accomplish that. I don't think gift cards are OK. I think they have to be disclosed as income as well. But it's irrelevant now. No restrictions with private insurance.