I wish to start this blog in the same way my middle school students liked to start their essays: in this blog I am going to tell you why there is a donation button on my blog. And that, my friends, is why I no longer teach middle school.
Please note also, that before I begin I will try as hard as I can to avoid either ranting or indulging in self-pity, but both efforts may very well prove futile.
My current situation:
• I had pretty major surgery on June 17th. And though the entire point of the surgery was to make my life with M.S. more manageable, at this point the opposite has proven true. Make no mistake, things weren’t going swimmingly prior to the surgery, but – when necessary – I could do things like get in bed, transfer into and out of the shower, and put my socks on independently. Now, those things are only possible with the help of my roommate, Meg.
• Problem: Meg is moving to NYC. She wants to move as soon as possible, but has resigned herself to remaining in Baltimore through December at the latest.
• In addition to being one of my favorite people in life, Meg is also my built-in caretaker. I trust her implicitly. Even when I find myself in impossible predicaments, she is able to rescue me. She never, ever lets me fall, and she problem-solves like no one I’ve ever met. She loves to cook, bake and clean, and she can always, always make me laugh. Meg’s only “flaw” is that she refuses to take a compliment, and seems to think I’m joking when I refer to her as superhuman. I, of course, am dead serious.
• When Meg leaves, and when she visits her boyfriend in New York on the weekends, I am left with a few options: 1. Enlist the help of friends, 2. Move home imminently and give up on my so-called independence, or 3. Hire a caretaker. Each of these options is rife with cons; option # 1 is unrealistic, option # 2 is antithetical to my general Will to Live, and option # 3 is ridiculously expensive. One might wonder why health insurance does not help with the cost of a caretaker, and to this I have no definitive answer. My cynical self, however, posits that if one is forced to go on disability, one is no longer the concern of his or her private insurance company, and things like personal care attendants are thus covered by the state. This saves the insurance company money, and that – obviously – is the name of the game.
• The caretaking options that I have proactively researched cost $20/hour. Sounds reasonable until you do the math. If I hired someone for a minimum of 5 hours on the weekends, it would cost a minimum of $100, an excess of $400 each month. As a teacher, this is not an added expense that my salary can incur.
I am consequently relegated to ask for help. I love my job. Teaching offers me a daily reprieve from thinking/stressing/obsessing about M.S., and though I am fully aware that what I do is not who I am, my job – at least at this point – feels like the best part of who I am. It’s the part that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning, and the part that makes me feel like I still contribute something to this life of mine – even if Meg has to help me get my pants on in the morning. I cannot let this be taken away from me, but it’s going to take a caretaker-extraordinaire to prevent; and that is something, at this current juncture, that I just cannot afford.