Tag Archives: money

Can You Afford To Have MS?

moneyIn the news today, Macmillan Cancer Support reports that most people cannot financially afford to have cancer.

They estimate that the illness costs around £760 per month, leaving the average family with a shortfall of £270 per month, due to increased living costs, such as extra travel, support and loss of earnings.

I could be wrong, but I think this pretty much applies to MS too – definitely so in my case.

Even before diagnosis, I had to drastically cut my working hours and now, although my health has stabilised somewhat, MS still throws plenty of curveballs my way, so much so that I cannot ever see a time I will be working 35 hours a week.

When I was really ill, I relied heavily on expensive ready-meals and takeaways instead of my usual prepared-from-scratch meals. I also took a lot of taxis to hospital and back, unable to cope with the stress of driving, parking, fighting with the ticket machine (the one at my hospital is sadistic) and stumbling to my appointments. I would feel tremendously guilty at not being able to do much with The Teenager so I would entice him with an extra tenner here and there to enjoy himself with his friends. It all added up.

So not only do we have to cope with the devastating emotional loss and bereavement any illness brings, we also face the very real fear of losing our homes, our livelihoods and the ability to look after our children in the way we would wish.

As a single, divorced parent (small violin please), I have no partner to fall back on. I have to earn a wage. That responsibility is frightening and keeps me up at night. I joke that most of my furniture is from Gumtree, but I’m not far wrong. I rummage through charity shop racks, putting aside the money I save so that The Teenager can have a few nice brand-new t-shirts. The cat went on strike when I swapped her food to supermarket own-brand but she learned to love the cheap biscuits, although she brings home more decapitated mice nowadays.

What is the solution? Is there one? If we give up work, we’re scroungers. If we stay in work, many of us are made to feel unwelcome and a ‘burden’, needing too many adjustments.

One thing I must mention though, is that the National Health Service remains free in the UK. I can’t imagine how much I have cost the NHS over the last four years. How would I have afforded the cutting-edge disease modifying drug I had access to, if I was living elsewhere?

But what does the future hold? Will we still have an NHS? What will happen when I’m too old to work but too young to retire? One thing is clear, illness is expensive. Can you afford it?

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Saved By The Bell

back to schoolThis has been a sad, sad week. The Teenager went back to school on Wednesday and I’m still wiping away the tears, getting used to rattling around an empty house with only Jeremy Kyle for company.

There is so much I will miss:

  • The feeling of lightness in my wallet. It will take a bit of adjusting to not having to dig deep every single day. Money for the cinema and lunch in town with friends for him, beans on toast and ‘Cash In The Attic’ with the cat for me.
  • Telling the Teenager for the umpteenth time, ‘In my day, we….(insert one of the following – ‘didn’t have the internet’, ‘made our own fun out of tin cans and bits of string’, ‘walked everywhere’).
  • The loud music blasting from his bedroom when I’m trying to have a quick shut-eye. Everything from Nirvana to the Beach Boys to new stuff I’m far too old to know the names of. He’s nothing if not eclectic.
  • The drama involved in buying a new school uniform. Will particularly miss the slammed bedroom doors, followed by shouts of ‘s’not fair, hate school, stoopid Harry Potter blazer.’
  • Ditto School Shoe Shopping (SSS). I’m sure the lovely lady who helped us really didn’t mind bringing out so many boxes of shoes to a Kevin The Teenager lookalike. She did look awfully happy/relieved when we left though.
  • The friends who pop over to see The Teenager for an hour and end up staying all day. Such dear, funny little people. Not at all loud.
  • The chainsaw snores from The Teenager’s bedroom as he has yet another lie-in.

So, forgive me if I’m a touch emotional. I have dug out all the old photographs of his first day at school, stretching back years. They range from the impossibly cute, smiley 4 year old to the one last year, where I had to bribe him with an extra quid for lunch. He’s slouched, unsmiling, barely looking at the camera. Sigh. This year, in his smart new blazer, his photo was more like a mugshot for junior Crimewatch.

Anyway, I have to pull myself together and not feel too despondent. As The Teenager couldn’t wait to tell me yesterday, it’s only six weeks to half-term. Like, yay.

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