1. Why can’t you just go get a job?
This is a two fold reason – one, I am disabled by chronic pain (spinal stenosis, degenerative disk disease, and advanced arthritis, as well as Lymphedema and related Lymphorrhea in my left leg) (though apparently not in pain enough for the government to help, due to my age), and all my energy is devoted to caring for my multiple stroke-victim wife. Even if I magically got hired (and I have applied everywhere from fast food to grocery stores to offices to…anything that’s hiring), I couldn’t afford to be away from her 8 hours every day. If something happened, she wouldn’t think to tell anyone and I might come home to her hurt or worse.
2. Didn’t you have a job as a delivery driver?
Yes, I did. I worked that job for over six months – and it destroyed our car, on top of costing more money in gas and car repairs than we made. Yes, my wife was with me for all my shifts when I was doing that, but as the company didn’t cover gas or car repairs, we basically ended up screwed because I took that job.
3. Don’t you take artwork commissions?
Yes, I do. But my commission queue is on hold at the moment due to a leg injury that makes me unable to sit at my computer for longer than an hour at a time, which is making the one active commission I have right now take a lot longer than it should. I will still take commissions – I want to work for the money I bring in – but things are a bit slower than usual at the moment. Commission information can be found here.
(UPDATE 10/28/16): Queue is no longer on hold as my leg is mostly healed. However, I’m having trouble finding the time to devote to commissions as my wife has needed my attention a lot lately. I am accepting commissions, but they might not be finished as quickly as I would like.
4. What is the fastest way to get funds to you?
GoFundMe takes 3 days to get the money into our account, and they take a 20% cut off the top of any donation. On my commission page, there is more information and other ways to donate. You can always use Paypal. My direct PayPal link is here. Alternately, Patreon is a once a month subscription that will also get you access to my Patron feed which includes behind-the-scenes information on the novel I’m editing, wallpapers, and all sorts of other perks. Joining at $5 a month or above will get you a mention in the dedication of the book I’m currently editing.
5. What exactly is wrong with your wife?
My wife has Cushings Disease, which is a tumor of the pituitary gland. This has made her body unable to regulate metabolism or, more life-threateningly, control cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and regulates how you respond to anything stressful.
The result of it being uncontrolled is that her body and emotions respond to all stress with the same, incredibly high stress response. Whether it’s not being able to find a shoe or being attacked by a tiger.
This has caused unmedicatable high blood pressure (unmedicatable because the cortisol levels just cause it to keep rising even when it’s medicated down). The final result of this is that her blood pressure goes up higher than 200/150, and she ends up having strokes.
This was diagnosed at the second stroke when she was 30, in 2013. I stayed in the hospital with her for a week while they tried to figure out what was going on and she had a total of two more strokes and eight TIAs (transient ischemic attacks, also known as mini-strokes), and one of the strokes came very close to killing her.
They ended up putting her on medical cannabis as it was literally the only thing that might shrink the tumor AND serves the purpose of calming the stress response in the brain.
No insurance covers the medication, which she takes orally 4x a day. It comes to $98 a week, plus ATM withdrawal fees, so I round it to $100 a week.
In the last three years, all during periods where we couldn’t afford her medication, she’s had more TIAs and one other stroke. The most recent TIA was on 09/24/2016. Each TIA brings her closer to a stroke that will kill her. The doctors can’t do surgery to remove the tumor because of a risk of brain damage due to the size of the tumor and the pituitary location. She is now up to 18 TIAs and four full strokes in the last three years.
6. Why does the cat have payments?
James was bought through a store credit account at a pet store. Thanks to the interest, he isn’t paid off yet. We still owe around $300 on him. And if we miss two or more payments, he will be repossessed (terms of a contract – I don’t care how much you want something, always read the damned contract terms when you sign something). His payments are currently up-to-date, despite the latest one making us overdrawn.
UPDATE (10/28/16): That overdraft has been fixed.
7. Why is the car payment so expensive?
We desperately needed a car. We bought through CarMax at a time when we had steady income. We paid without failing on the car for two years before this happened. Santander, the company the loan is through, was literally the only company that would approve us as at the time we had next to no credit history. The payments are $470 a month, plus a $30 processing fee. So $500 a month. We missed a deadline to refinance, and now that we are behind two months payments, so that isn’t an option anymore.
UPDATE (10/28/16): We are currently up to date with car payments thanks to them making a deal with us and accepting a $250 payment for the month of October, and extending the loan an extra two months (so that the months we missed haven’t “come up yet” in the rotation), and therefore we are not considered overdue any longer. As of this update, the car is not in risk of being repossessed! Yay!
UPDATE (11/19/16): As of today, we are behind on the car payment again. I have no prospects to bring in the $500 I need any time soon, either, so desperation is starting to set in. On top of that, the car is making a noise when braking, and we have no insurance currently (thanks to not being able to afford the $150 a month payments).
8. What about work-from-home options?
I’ve applied for every one I’m qualified for, and generally receive no response. My old hardware (the laptop is so close to being a decade old that I CALL it my decade-old-laptop) doesn’t qualify for whatever they need me to do. I even apply for things I’m not qualified for, and hope for responses that never come.
9. What about temp work?
I’m registered with every temp agency in the area and I call them weekly. Some weeks I land a couple of days doing data entry or filing or something, but most weeks my disabilities keep me from being on their hireable list.
10. Why do you sometimes need food money and other times you don’t?
We are part of the CalFresh foodstamp system. We get $200 for groceries, and that refills on the 5th of every month. We stretch this as far as we can but usually it’s gone by the third week of the month. Once we run out of food, I start asking for help. Usually I go without eating several days so my wife can have the food we have left. I only start asking for help when my wife is being forced to go hungry as well. We have tried any food banks and donation systems in our area, but most are run by “the bad kind” of christian, and tend to turn us away because my wife is Jewish.
UPDATE (10/28/16): We have found a food bank that is willing to help us out, and are currently in the application process for their help. As of this update, however, they are still reviewing our finances and haven’t approved us yet.
UPDATE (11/19/16): We managed to get our amount for FoodStamps increased to $330 a month, starting next month. It isn’t MUCH better, but it will help. The food bank claims I bring in too much from donations to qualify – and no, they don’t care that the money is going straight out for my wife’s medication and gas for the car.
11. If you go without eating so often, why are you both so fat?
My wife has Cushings Disease, as I mentioned before. This causes her body to retain weight no matter how much she moves. When she first developed the disease in her teens, she was doing ballet 14 hours a day – and still gained 100lbs within a year and was forced to stop what she had chosen as her career at that point. The Cushings wasn’t officially found or diagnosed until she was in her 30s. Doctors at the time blamed the weight gain on her father taking her out for a hamburger once a week, rather than even bothering to look at the circumstances or situation she was in.
I am heavy for two reasons – one, I have a genetic predisposition to being heavy. Both of my parents do as well. They weren’t able to start losing weight until their 70s. Two, my chronic pain causes me to be 80% sedentary. There are very few positions and places I can be where I’m in very little pain, so when I find those places I have a tendency to stay there. This has lead to all sorts of complications and I am currently going out of my way to walk regularly and work out at the free gym equipment at the local park whenever I can. I am losing weight, but I have a tendency to plateau around 330lbs and I don’t seem to be getting any smaller.
I lose weight easier when I am on my intra-muscular testosterone injections, but I haven’t been able to afford my hormones in almost a year. This has caused me to gain some weight back, as well as causing me to have to battle harder against depression and dysphoria. My testosterone is $150 every 3 months. I find it more important that my wife gets her anti-stroke medication, so I let the things I need fall by the wayside.
12. If you’re broke, how do you play World Of Warcraft?
I have a little sister-by-love who can’t afford to help me much financially, but does buy me game time so I have a method to relax. She keeps me in game time, I don’t pay for anything in the game except with gold I’ve earned in game for myself.
13. How can you afford rent/internet/utilities?
Short answer is – we can’t. We live in my wife’s mother’s spare room (which was her office before we moved in). She can’t afford to help us out more than covering our living area, utilities, and internet – as we just use what she pays for in the house. When we were making regular money, we paid her our portion of those bills – we haven’t been able to do that for almost a year now. Our ultimate goal is to move into an apartment or house of our own eventually, but right now that seems a long way off.
14. What about bankruptcy?
I’m currently talking with several lawyers, trying to find someone who is willing to take our case pro bono, as we can’t afford the $1000 average it costs to FILE for bankruptcy in this state. I’m in negotiations with one lawyer who claims he can take the case pro bono if we provide evidence that we’ve been being called by collectors outside of the legal hours (which we have). So that’s where we are with that right now.
UPDATE (11/19/16): The minimum they’re going to charge us is $200, which I don’t have. So for right now, the cases are on hold and we can’t go forward with bankruptcy.
15. Welfare? Disability? Social Security?
We’re waiting on a ruling on my wife’s federal and state disability claims. Mine have been denied due to reasons outlined above. We don’t have children, and therefore do not qualify for Welfare. Neither of us have worked “straight jobs” for long enough in our lives to qualify for Social Security – we never paid into it enough.