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.
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.
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.
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.