How Sickle Cell Affected My Financial Story

how I get rid of over $300k in debt in 4 years with Sickle Cell.

Photo by: Denise Reed

This is my personal story and how sickle cell affected my finances, but is also a story about anyone who has a chronic illness. While writing this story, I spoke with a few friends with their illnesses and realized this could be for someone with a chronic illness. Reading this story will help you to understand that you can overcome any circumstance if you are focused and driven. You may even know someone with a chronic illness that may be dealing with these same issues in secret.

Sickle cell has been a huge part of my financial story. I thought it was one if the main reasons I have not achieved my financial goal. But now I know that it was just another part of my life story. I was diagnosed with Sickle Cell at the age of 6 months. As a child, I only had one job when I was sick to focus on feeling better. As I grew older and began to work, I quickly noticed that the type of job I worked mattered. Different types of jobs would make me sick. For example, being a server is a very physical, and at the end of my shifts, I often became painful.

What is Sickle Cell

I’m sure by now you’re asking yourself what Sickle Cell is? It’s an abnormal red blood cell disease. My red blood cells are not formed normally, so they don’t hold oxygen correctly. The lack of oxygen causes different levels of pain throughout the body known as a Crisis. Each person has different things that trigger their crisis. Some triggers are things like extreme weather, smoking, and physical exertion.

No Control

Because you can’t control when you’re sick, you can’t work a steady job. There are usually no warning signs to tell you that you are going to get sick. Not only do you do not know when you’re going to get sick, but you have no idea of your recovery time. For these reasons, it’s easy to understand why a company wouldn’t want to hire you or can’t afford to keep you. Don’t get me wrong I have some impressive careers at some excellent companies, but it is understandable why we had to part ways.

That Doctor Again

Even when you are well, there is always a lot of doctor appointments. These appointments lead to me missing days at work which causes less pay. Sometimes it causes you to because creative when scheduling. I often schedule 4 or 5 appointments on the same day so that I wouldn’t have to miss too many days of work. Even now as an author and entrepreneur I find this creative scheduling helpful.

Medical Bills

Having lots of doctor appointments usually means having different doctors as well.  Each doctor charges a different price. All if your visits create unpredictable medical bills which can add a strain to your budget.  Even with health insurance you still have copayments, and not all insurance companies pay 100%, so you are left with the difference.

The Turning Point

At this point, it’s easy to understand why someone with a chronic illness would give up financially. I’m not that person. I didn’t give up. I used all my frustrations to learn, and to grow, and to push, and to focus. First, I had to find work that I could do even from a hospital bed. Next, I had to use the money I was getting more efficiently. Then, I had to pray and ask for help and strength to overcome my fear and depression. Being sick makes you alone, being alone makes you feel lonely, then loneliness turns into depression. You must change your mindset. You should keep yourself busy, control your mind, and emotions to move forward. So that’s what I did.

The Comeback

First I started praying and going to church more. That help me to clear my mind of all the negative thoughts. Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t suicidal or anything, but I had the negative talk because I was moving out of my comfort zone. Then, I started reading more about money and finances. That give me a better understanding of financial terms (words).  After the I took a finance class to help me budget my money.

Let’s Do It

Now that I knew the talk I took to act. I asked myself “If I was going to have the title of low-income how could I use this to my advantage?” A family member told me about the government student loan forgiveness program I applied, and like that my loans were gone. I sold my house. It was the biggest asset I had, but it was stressing me and weighing me down. And last I used what cash I did have to pay off debt. That is how I get rid of over $300k in debt in 4 years. I still have more debt to go, but not that much. I know I can do it and so can you. Get focus, get frustrated, and get finished.

Comments

  1. Such an empowering story! Budgeting is important, but in that particular case it can become a nightmare. Bravo on overcoming that!

  2. My own husband suffers from Lupus and lately it has been difficult for him to balance his career and his sickness. So much money goes into medical bills and rehab, all in the efforts to find him some relief. Your story is very encouraging. We are in a real upswing right now as a family, in his career, and his health. So good vibes all around. 🙂

    1. Author

      Just stick in there. I’m sure you will figure it all out. Try negotiating with the hospitals and doctors offices on the remaining balances if needed. Some larger hospitals have programs for people with those types of illnesses, but they won’t tell you if you don’t ask. Just remember having you by his side is the most important thing to him. P.S. The friends I was talking about in the post both have Lupus.

  3. What a journey you’ve been on. I love how you pushed through everything and maintained such a positive attitude. Very inspiring!

    1. Author

      Thank you so much, Stephaine. The funny part is at the time you don’t realize its a journey until years later when you look back. At the time you’re just living your life the best you can.

  4. You’re such an inspiration and this is such an important story to tell. It hit a nerve as my husband had a very young family member die from sickle cells 25 years ago. Thank goodness such advances have been made x

    1. Author

      Thank you. Yes, medicine has come a long way. Hopefully one day there will be a widespread cure. Sorry for your husband’s loss. And thank you again

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