This can go in a number of directions. Don't be a dumbass: Live below your means. Don't be a dumbass: Save your money instead of buying stupid crap. But this time, I have to point the finger at myself, because, well, I'm the dumbass. Oh, yeah, you're right. What's new about that?
Anyway, as I've mentioned recently, I've had some health issues as of late. Sure, genetics play into my woes, but it's really comprised of 99.9 percent years of stupid decisions and a lack of self-care. I am a typical rescuer lunatic. Yanno, the kind of person with a messianic complex so deep that he/she worries about everyone else and utterly neglects self, AKA a Dumbass. We dumbasses do good work, no doubt, but ultimately to our own detriment, making continued good deeds rather difficult. Some of my brethren have deep seated self-esteem issues and think they are only worthy when giving to others. Fortunately, I don't really have that issue. I tend to lack patience with that sort of thang (shitty self-esteem is a form of entitlement, me thinks. I mean, c'mon! Everyone has value but you? Really? How did you get to be so special?). I've got a bad combination of an alarming level of laziness, disdain for entitlement and a deeply rooted belief that the only life worth living is one that's lived in service to others. (Contradictory, I know. Lazy, but dedicated!)
What this looked like over the years: I have to run to 14 different meetings for the NPO that is paying me jack shit to work 60+ hours a week. No time to cook! Let me just run through this fast food joint a couple of times a day. Exercise? Suck it. Family history of diabetes and heart disease? Um, so? What's your point? I'm in the homeless capital of the United States! We have work to do, people!
Spend the vast majority of your life doing the above and you're gonna end up in deep shit, which is where I found myself. I have been going through the odd process of learning that self-care is required to properly live in a life in service and that taking time for self is not a manifestation of the indulgent tirades of entitled twats* hell bent on self-absorption. Self-care is actually something called "common sense." One day, I hope to have some of that common sense thing.
Being the frugal freak that I am, I must admit that the most painful part of this process hasn't been the various treatments and behavior changes. Oh no. It's been the cost. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, the cost. I have a perfectly horrible doctor through a perfectly fine HMO. Under their version of "care," I found myself getting worse and worse. So, I started paying out of pocket to see some hippified doctors who, like me, feel that pharmaceutical interventions should be a last resort. These stellar docs have given me discounts on care. (Thanks, ladies!) But I had to stop working for a bit, which resulted in an inconsistent income for a few months. I had to get a long-term car rental to get to and from various appointments in the nightmare sprawl that is Los Angeles. I had to spend a lot of money on supplements to help repair years of damage from a shitty diet and zero movement.
Essentially, for three months my income was reduced and sporadic while expenses increased by (say it with me now) $1600 per month over that same period. That's a hair under $5,000 and that's only for the intensive portion of things. The costs moving forward will reduce significantly and my income is back up to its old healthy self, so I'll be able to dig myself out of this hole by summer. But I'll still have more going out the door than I would otherwise for at least another year thanks to my idiocy. I also have to make some difficult decisions about quality of life issues, which may result in relocation or any other host of potential expensive changes.
Of course, not everyone who gets sick is a dumbass. There are so many conditions that are completely out of our control. I wonder about folks who don't have the luxury of a salaried gig and low expenses. How does a mother of three who makes minimum wage with no health benefits cope if she gets sick? But that's another discussion for another day.
Next week, I turn 39. I should be smarter by now, I know. But I am grateful that this changing tide has resulted in a new way of living (albeit at a snail's pace) that will ultimately result in a greater quality of life. I'm grateful for supportive, qualified medical folks and a compassionate employer. I'm grateful that I have a good measure of control over these health issues. Grateful, grateful, grateful. More than anything, I just hope that at some point, I will no longer be among the ranks of dumbass and will be awash in common sense. In the meantime, I'll keep plugging away in the garden, pinching my pennies, and learning the fine art of good self-care. Feel free to join me (anyone want to toss a medicine ball around?) and share your tips on good self-care (please don't confuse that as a request for die-ting tips!). I'm new at this, after all.
*again, apologies to my feminist friends who find this term offensive. I would simply suggest that you stop associating your body with this term. I mean, really?