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Nothing Left in the Cupboard, Mother Hubbard

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You read those sad stories in the news about people who have lost everything they have in life to treat a chronic medical condition. You read about how they had to dispose of all their property before they could get assistance because they were considered too wealthy, until they had nothing. You read about how people try to survive when even those meager funds run out. Then you read about how when all else fails, they are run out of town to become someone else’s problems. And you think, “I sure am glad that isn’t my lot in life.”

Until it happens to you.

My blogging output for the past several months has been spotty at best. That isn’t for a lack of topics to write about, for so much is going on one could do nothing but write all day long and still not keep up with it all. No, it’s because I have become one of those chronic illness sufferers who now faces losing everything.

My doctors — despite spending thousands of my benefit dollars on tests and other services — are no closer to knowing what the cause of my illness is much less what to do about it. I just had a specialist tell me that there was nothing more he could think of to do, and I’m a long way from cured. And this is the best medical care in the world? Count me as a skeptic of that lie! I know from experience that it’s not, or else I wouldn’t be writing this!

All of these medical “experiences” have kept me from working for several weeks now. It just isn’t possible physically for me to do so. I have used up all of my sick and vacation time, I’m waiting for the state to process my disability check, and we have begun to cut deep into the savings. That money will only last another month or so.

I have essentially been the main support for the home, with the rest of the family working at whatever jobs they can get to supplement my efforts. Now, we are relying upon their incomes until I can get back to work, and it isn’t enough.

I spent my life working, never having had the time or the money for college. But I had a couple of lucky breaks along the way that made it possible for me to send my wife and all of my children to college. Any one of them now has more education than I was able to get, and I’m proud that I made it possible.

But then reality hit me — hard. If you care to, you can read about the first couple of weeks here. Since that time, the same set of experiences has continued to happen, with no resolution for cure or relief for the cause of my illness. And there isn’t anyone to pick up the slack.

My wife’s job was saved by stimulus money, but it required cutting back on her hours to do so. She now couldn’t make it on her salary if she lived alone. As for changing jobs for more money, no one responds to her applications, and she’s been looking since before the Great Recession began. It may be her age, it may be her pre-existing medical condition, who knows. One would think that a master’s degree would be worth something besides the eight years of my life I spent toiling away in the dream factory to make it possible.

My eldest son Bookseller has had his hours cut down so low that some weeks don’t cover his commuting costs — and we live fairly close to the shop. Business is so bad that the management is threatening to close the store, ending his employment. He recently discovered the hard way that he is allergic to bee venom, and now has to carry around an Epipen. He has to pay almost $100 for each new one out of his own pocket every three months. Even without this problem, he can’t make it on what he makes either. We were worried that he would never move out. Now we hope that he doesn’t, for we need every dime he brings in.

My younger son Translator was hoping to get into the Cal State system this fall, but that isn’t going to happen now. We can’t pay for it. In addition, he’s just lost his job due to his employer suffering serious injuries in a hit-and-run accident. Replacing this lost job isn’t going to be easy, not when you have engineers and teachers working the drive-up window at Del Taco. But even if this didn’t happen, he was only making enough to cover his textbooks. One of those cost $150 this last quarter. I know — I paid for it when he couldn’t.

My youngest daughter Sensei is in danger of us not being able to meet our portion of her “full” scholarship. This may keep her from realizing her career dreams, and instead send her into the netherworld jungle that is today’s job market. We maybe can no longer guarantee to back her loans in the amounts necessary to cover what the “full” scholarship does not. Her only job is work study, so if she leaves college, her job ends.

But Wait! It Gets WORSE!

I spent years making extra payments to get my house paid off, and have almost made it to Free-and-Clear Titleland. Another good year’s income and it would be completely mine. Now, due to my illness, I’m in danger of losing it as well. At least I just paid the property taxes, so I’ve got six months to come up with the next assessment.

My extended family is facing similar problems as I am, and can’t help themselves much less help to support me. I’m hardly alone in this situation. Millions of other Californians are in similar bad straits. Hell, millions of other AMERICANS are in these dire straits. And what do we all have to fall back on when we used up the last drop of our assets?

Not a damn thing. I am neither a Wall Street bank nor am I a military contractor, both of whom get plush servicing regardless of which party is in the majority. I am not a “valued” ally with large energy reserves and a primitive population to exploit for foreign gain. I am not strategically located to “enjoy” the “patronage” of the US military through basing vital assets in a sensitive theater on my land. I have no political connections to push an earmark through the Congress to put me on the corporate welfare roll like so many companies have done throughout the years. But damn! Don’t you be drivin’ no Cadillac and need some food stamps!

We mere mortals are going to go through the only steps remaining available to us. In our house, this means that the food budget has already been cut in half, and will get cut again. Meat will become a memory. The family cell phones will have to go, as will the satellite TV and the Internet, which means that I will have to go off-line, maybe for good. [Stop cheering, Dave! It could happen to you! One good Texas gully washer, and …] We may even have to shut down our utilities before too much longer. It’s a good thing we live in a relatively temperate climate.

That list really is all we have to cut. There is no pension fund, no 401k, no vacation home, no annuities, no inheritances, no vacation travel money. All it means is that we will have enough to have a chance — assuming that no one else becomes unemployed — to keep the house and still eat something. More rice and beans, anyone? I bought two new 100 lb bags at the Costco thanks to my married daughter who is a member. Yeah, I know we had this yesterday. In case you forgot, we also had it last week, and last month. And we will have it next week and next month. In fact, your next birthday “cake” will be made of beans and rice! So if you don’t want it, I do!

These changes are not a pleasant prospect to look forward to. We had the middle-class lifestyle and then some. We are now about to hit the bottom hard with nothing but memories and shattered hopes to show for it. If I lose my job, we lose our medical care, as my wife’s available coverage is already too expensive for her to pick up. In fact, it’s about to go up 39%, making it even less likely that we could afford it! Oh, well. I doubt going without food so as to have health care is going to work out well in the end, especially if we are all living out of our cars.

Son Bookseller is already involved with poverty-level health care, because his employer cut off his benefits in 2008 and he also has chronic health issues. He doesn’t make enough to buy coverage but makes too much for state aid. The youngest ones will have to avoid getting seriously sick, for there really is nothing left in the cupboard, Mother Hubbard. We are as tapped out as those West Texas dry holes that Dubya used to pump the Saudis for a bailout. So if you get sick, be sure to die quick and reduce the surplus impoverished population.

Considering how things are not expected to improve for individuals any time soon, some of you reading this will be joining me in the near future. My advice to you, even if you think you aren’t just a paycheck away from losing it all, is to get the jump on disaster by working out what you really need as well as how you will pay for it. You need to work out how and where you will live and how and where you will eat. Get all the numbers for the state and federal assistance offices in your area, and print them out before your ink cartridge runs dry like mine has. Because the better prepared you are for the worst possible case, the easier it will be for you to adjust to the changes.

And one more thing: the only group that deserves your hatred is the group that took all the money and their political lapdogs who gave it to them. Everyone else has spent years dwelling where you are just moving in. They are the only friends you are going to have. Learn to play nice, because you have to sleep sometime. And you need to know who luvs ya baby, ’cause that cold cruel world sure doesn’t.

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About pessimist

  • rododense

    My friend recently lost their home to foreclosure and now they are planning to file for bankcrupcy. They recently went to file their taxes and they found out IRS is billing them 52,000 for abandonment even though they have tried for months asking for help from the banks. Need some advise on how i can help guide my friend to the right people to settle the foreclosures.

  • Thanks, Irene.

    In an odd way, it reminds me of Melina Mercouri’s Never on Sunday.

  • What CA needs is for idiots to stop voting. The state’s in the red and in 2008 they still voted for more spending on things like high speed rail and a children’s hospital which sound great but there’s no money for them.

    Then they think more about animals than humans and cost the state money in the process. Farmers now have to get larger cages which will drive some out of the state to do business and because of the bigoted ignorance of the majority we can’t have gay people getting married which would be a nice size influx of cash into the economy.

    A governor won’t fix it but someone needs to set the country straight. Although I opposed the recall Tom McClintock should have replaced Gray Davis

  • Irene Wagner

    Parting Shot.

    From Anthony Quinn’s memoir about when this scene was shot: “And I danced. I could not lift my foot and set it down – the pain was unendurable – but I found that I could drag it along without too much discomfort, so I invented a dance with an unusual sliding-dragging step. I held out my arms, in a traditional Greek stance, and shuffled along the sands. Soon, Alan Bates picked up on the move, and the two of us were lifted by the music and the sea, taken arm in arm to a spiritual place, out of the ordinary and far away. We were born-again Greeks, joyously celebrating life. We had no idea what we were doing, but it felt right, and good.”

    That was for you, Roger.

  • Levity?

    You were lewd.

  • Irene Wagner

    Anyway, Realist, I’m sorry for the possibly inappropriate levity.

    Maybe the food allergy is joining evil forces with some other sensitivity (an ingredient in your hand soap? a fragrance that’s an ingredient of a family member’s antiperspirant?)

    While you are waiting for answers: I don’t know if They is wrong, but They say laughter is the best medicine. Dark humor at the very least (your writing shows you’re fully capable of that)…but then there’s a time when, if you’re like me, to keep your sanity, you have to just turn into a little kid for awhile, tune it out, see the silliness and even the vestiges of joy and beauty and order in the Universe. Watch cartoons.

    When things are out of your control because you’ve already done every responsible thing you can think of, what else is there to do with life but to take it like a little child?

    (Thus, the bells toll midnight on my Own Private Mardi Gras in My Own Private Idaho. It’s Lent for real now. I mean it. Ciao for Now.)

  • SheGaveUpCalendarsforLent


  • Mark

    …it’s mardi gras doncha know

    What’s a few days this way or that?

    Enjoy (or dutifully suffer through, depending on your religious tastes) your contemplation.

  • Irene Wagner

    mark and roger n — it’s mardi gras doncha know. i didn’t, believe it or not. THANKS for reminding me…so, til resurrection sunday then ;0

    * come along without come along within you’ll not see NOTHING like the mighty quinn. do do do doo doo do do DOO DoO DOO. *

  • Realist,

    I am so glad that you are feeling well enough to respond.

    :]we all have different ways of showing our care for each-other.

  • Ruvy, Roger, and Cindy,

    This is going to be said in the most respectful way that I can muster, right now.

    “Take me off of your group-mailing list.”

  • Cindy

    Great link Ruvy. I was surprised at number 8. Unwillingly being better than nothing. That’s interesting.

  • @32 – jeannie danna & 35 – Irene Wagner :

    I do have some food allergies, but corn is not one of them. Wheat is, however. Fruit can cause me problems if I eat too much of it without protein, so I’m already on to that one. But thanks for showing your concerns.

    While food can play a role in my migraines, they are not the only source of them. I have other non-food triggers, which luckily don’t often occur. But when they do . . .

    @Ruvy – I am part of the tribe (of man), just not of your particular clan (of the Chosen). I quote from the Christian book because I know a little something about that one. I’ve not read much of the others and wouldn’t pretend to be able to quote from them knowingly.

    As for the Guidance in troubled moments, when it really counted in my life, it was there for me. So I have also shared your experience. I may relate my experiences sometime when the topic is appropriate. They might raise whatever hair you have left!

    @Roger – your heart was in the right place, but you did distract the discussion off the topic. I am but one such person in a nation which has far too many in my straits -and worse- and not everyone has caring people wanting to offer assistance. I won’t penalize you, but we might want to talk off-thread. Email me.

    Thanks again to everyone for the helpful messages. You all may be why I’m noting a slight improvement in my condition today.

  • Glenn Contrarian


    My situation didn’t compare to yours in comment #29, but it strongly reminded me of a time when I approached the head of the local homeowner’s association to ask him (in very broken Tagalog) when the pool would be cleaned. He looked at me in utter disgust, turned to my wife’s cousin, and asked in perfect English, “What is he trying to say?”

    Yeah, I did want to kick myself….

    And the lesson for all is – Chinese (is it Mandarin or Cantonese?) is spoken by more people, but English is the most widely-spoken language in the world. It is our lingua franca. Unless you’re trying to be especially courteous to show respect for the local culture, try English first…and if they can’t understand you, then try the local language. Otherwise you might wind up understanding all too well how Ruvy and I both felt….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ruvy and Jeannie –

    I strongly disagree with both of you. While I don’t think Roger’s call for donations for Realist will bear much fruit, I will not castigate him for it. Why? Because he knows how it feels to go from wealth to poverty, and he knows that while Realist’s situation does not begin to compare to the Haitians, almost any Haitian will tell you quite sincerely, when one truly hits bottom, when one must fight (or worse) just to find food for one’s child, dignity, integrity, and virtuous pride become luxuries that are often beyond one’s means to sustain.

    There’s a time and place to defend a man’s dignity…but that man will remember who just gave suggestions, and who made a good-faith effort to give help in a time of real need. He’ll also remember that (as is so often the case) the one who’s trying to help the most is also the one who is unemployed and in serious financial problems.

    I won’t contribute, but I do instead at least appreciate and applaud the gesture he made on Realist’s behalf.

  • I left a comment on another thread this morning.

    On Dave’s thread, I wrote, that, some people, should not try to embarrass others that will not give money to them directly. It would stand to reason, that, this is as inappropriate, as, was my asking everyone to Text 90999 to Haiti.


  • But a fun gal.

  • Mark

    ([in my best Anthony Quinn imitation]: She is not perfect.)

  • It must be because Irene is on board.

  • Mark

    Is lent over? Thanks for the link, Ruvy.

  • Irene Wagner

    Sounds like the antithesis of taxes, which have their place, but aren’t charity, by Maimonides’ standards. Thx for the link, Ruvy.

    PS Realist — about adding fruit–the same thing happened to someone who was eating bananas like crazy. Horrible headaches til she gave THEM up.

  • Panhandling, Roger?…..

    Don’t you have any respect for a man’s dignity, Jeannie? Roger was wrong to post this appeal on this thread, as it demeans the dignity of the person and family that would be receiving the aid. Similarly, the entire discussion surrounding this ought to have been done by e-mail, out of the sight of the potential receiver. But Roger’s actions, and the discussion surrounding them are out of ignorance, not intent to hurt. Your words, by contrast are hurtful – and mean.

    It is a rule of human nature that every person will disappoint you at some time or another. You have proven that rule.

    Charity is not an act of caring, it is an act of righteousness. And how it is judged is not on the amount, but on how it affects the honor of the recipient. And your comments do nothing to give honor to the recipient.

    I don’t care how upset you get at what I say here, Jeannie. Read at this link, and learn why I am so angry.

  • I’m sorry, Jeannie, you have such strong feelings against helping one of our own in need.

    I’m well aware that Realist did not ask for any money; so yes, I do take full responsibility for taking the initiative, and I hope he will not fault me for having done so. Even as mere gesture, because perhaps the amount raised is unimportant, I would think he would appreciate some moral support, knowing that he is part of the BC community and that people care.

    So again, I apologize if this idea seems so abhorrent to you. I didn’t mean to offend you.

    For your information, Cindy has set up a secure site for the purpose, Pen Pal in fact, so all your suspicions about anyone scheming or trying to defraud anyone are unfounded.

    And BTW, “panhandling” is a term usually reserved for such cases when one is asking for money on their own behalf. I can assure you that this isn’t the case here.

  • Realist,

    I hope you are not insulted by what I just said to Roger. You are not asking for money here, he is.

    If there is any comfort in emotional support, I offer all I have freely and willingly to you.

    Not, knowing your symptoms, even after reading the links, I can’t help ascertain what is hurting.

    My sister-in-law has suffered from, fibromyalgia for the last seventeen years.
    Her brilliant doctors have kept her on moriphine for the last three, now she’s in a drug rehab in FLA.

    It makes me sick, just thinking about this, instead of honestly trying to find cures, the medical machine is really just looking for that bottom-line.

    bye, for now.

  • Panhandling, Roger?

    We don’t give our money out over the web. no, on-line banking here.


    You, should not expect that I would, after the crap you left all over my thread, yesterday.

    Yes, a hacker would be very disappointed with this computer, there isn’t even a credit-card number stored in it.

    I came here to see if The Realist is OK.

  • Irene Wagner

    Because of a synchronicity, and because this suggestion, should you opt to give it a try, costs nothing, I’ll pipe up here.

    An acquaintance–I hadn’t talked to for about 6 months–and I had a long chat last week when I asked her how she’d been doing with her migraines. The last time I had talked to her, they had landed her in the ER more than a few times, and almost caused her to drop out of school a couple of semesters, too. Nothing had given her relief. By making the change I’m about to describe, she has managed to stay out of the ER and the intensity of the remaining minor migraines continues to diminish.

    Turns out–she’s discovered she has an intolerance to corn. She learned about her food allergy the same way you’d discover any food allergy: by going on an Elimination Diet, where, for a while, you stop eating just about everything except a filling, nourishing combo that is unlikely to cause allergies. RICE AND BEANS!!! would be a perfect choice, maybe with a few fresh vegetables/fruits. You stay on this for a couple of weeks. If you’re starting to feel better, you know you might be on to something. Start adding foods one by one. When you start feeling unwell within a little while of adding a new food, you’ve found a suspect. Dairy and wheat are other common allergies.

    Just in case it’s a corn allergy, don’t use ketchup or vinegar on the rice and beans. High fructose corn syrup is all over the place. A lot of vinegar is distilled corn. Corn starch is used as a thickener. Etc..

    I’m not a doctor, so do research of your own if you plan to pursue this.

    Realist, I do hope you get to the bottom of this ailment, one way or the other. All the best.

  • Realist,

    I have one last thing to say to you and then I’ll fall silent, awaiting what I hope is good news from your part of California.

    I don’t know how much you believe in G-d or whether or not you go to church or synagogue, and it’s none of my business; I don’t get to preach to you. But I can relate what happened to me and what I did about it.

    When I had my heart attack on Boxing Day, 2003, I was lying in bed listening to my wife try to scare up the ambulance to come to our apartment, and I was afraid that they would panic. My wife does not know Hebrew, and my kids were, well, kids. Lying in pain in the bed that Friday morning, I prayed to G-d to give me clarity of mind that I could guide them so that they would not panic. I got the clarity of mind – and it was tested a few minutes later, when the ambulance driver called asking for directions to our building in East Talpiot. He couldn’t find it! In my still terrible Hebrew, I told him how to get to our apartment as best I could, he had trouble understanding me, but he made it. When the EMT’s arrived, I discovered they all spoke English!! I could have kicked myself, and would have, but for the pain in my chest!

    That clarity of mind has stayed with me since then, and even when we were in a boat similar to yours in 2006, I did not crack or panic.

    I wish you and yours all the best and await good news.

  • Realist, I’ve been busy the last few days confronting many of the issues which you confront today. I’m sorry I’m late to the discussion but I see that you’ve been offered many suggestions. The one that stands out in my mind is the reverse mortgage option. I have friends who did just that and they’re using their equity, in small increments to keep up with day-to-day living expenses and health insurance premiums. It’s working for them and they expect to see brighter employment prospects by year’s end which would stop the reverse mortgage bail outs.

    With Ruvy and others, I share the mission to send positive energy and thoughts your way. I identify very much with what you’re going through and as a person who is slowly – albeit steadily – climbing out from this trench, I can assure you there is light at the end of this dark tunnel.

    As difficult as it may be — don’t despair. In the darkness of despair one cannot make rational decisions which foster a positive outcome. Remember that you’ve come this far with a good wife and kids — together as a family, you can get through this. Many share your predicament — but there are others worse off than either of us.

    On your health issues — be vigilant. Don’t accept “I don’t know” for an answer and don’t be afraid to seek out information and advice from alternative sources or organizations. You know your body. You know how it responds. Don’t let “them” treat you as yet another textbook problem to be solved within the parameters of how they may have received their respective educations.

  • Dish-washing duties? Never.
    That would be sexist, and we both know in what heap of trouble I’d be for even thinking the thought.

    And yes, conscription is more effective than volunteers.

    The war in Iraq and Afghanistan would be long over if we had the draft. But the warmongers know it, which is why they pry on the uneducated and the young to die not for their country but to fill their own pockets.

  • Cindy

    lol conscription…

  • Cindy

    I am honored. Asking would have been a mere formality.

    (But, if we make it to the free world, try not to volunteer me for dish-washing duty.)


  • Thanks, Cindy.

    The “chip-in” dialog box looks great. Now your website is measuring up to the ideas you espouse.

    Thank you again.

  • Yes, let Jeannie do it, though she was part of the group e-mail.

    Excellent role for her, as she has already proven herself in connection with the Haiti disaster.

    Jeannie, you’re unanimously drafted.

  • Well, I wont be able to do anything until the first. Thanks for accepting this responsibility. I should have asked your permission first, but as always, I was impetuous and made an assumption. I’m glad though that in this case I wasn’t proven wrong.

    So now since Cindy is aboard, let me make this appeal to all fellow bloggers. Good wishes and kind thoughts are fine, and they all appreciated. But if you really mean it, lets all put the money where our mouth is. I really mean it, no exception. Otherwise, any further postings on this thread will be hypocritical.

    There, I said it!

    And as Cindy said, no amount is too big or too small.

  • Cindy

    Wow, way to delegate, Roger! Good pick!

    Okay, I accept the mission. I made a Chip-In on my blog. No amount too small…or large.

    (Wonders if Jeannie will want to be in charge of spreading the word.??)

  • Many thanks to all for your good wishes and handy poverty tips. Everything you have offered gives me much to think about, including some ideas that I wasn’t seeing myself. I greatly appreciate everything you are all doing for me. I hope to have some good health news to report soon.

  • John Wilson

    Good post Realist. Good response from Glenn C, too, who is, IMO, the best poster by far on BC.

    Internet connections: any Peets coffeeshop has free WiFi internet, and the ones I go to don’t even insist you buy a drink (Starbucks is difficult). Each Wifi slip is good for 2 hours and they don’t mind giving you another.

    Boulangerie (the chain, not individual stores, necessarily) has free WiFi, no signon slip required. I’ve even gone to one at night and sat outside in the car when I had trouble with my own ISP.

    Many mom and pop coffeeshops have free WiFi, sometimes they have a sign on the door.

    Many libraries have internet, but you may have to use their computer and be time-limited.

    Many California municipalities have free wifi for residents, so you may have to hack, but that’s easy. Find them with google.

    You may need a directional antenna, like the Hawking, to tune up a WiFi signal, and that costs $70, BUT there’s a clever Prof. in New Zealand who has published articles on DIY Hawking antennas made from a chinese mesh ladle and a $20 cheapo WiFi USB stick. A hacker can make a dish out of scrap, like some old wires and some aluminium foil.

    Any dialup telephone can be used to logon to *FREE* dialup service in CA thru your J11 on the computer, I can give you the URL if you need it. 26kps works good on text stuff like this.

    If you need a laptop in order to hack the free WiFis, go to your local computer club or storefront computer local guys. There are tons of 7-8 year old laptops looking for a new home and you should be able to score one free from a guy who hates to see a laptop he used for a couple of years just go into trash.

  • OK, folks. What follows is a group e-mail I posted to some of the BC participants and some of my friend. If you’re not included on this illustrious list, don’t you worry. It’s most likely the case that your email wasn’t readily available to me. I didn’t intend to slight you, of this I can assure you. But the exigency of the moment is pressing, and that must transcend all matters of protocol or hurt feelings.

    Anyways, here’s the e-mail message, and I do hope you’ll respond to it to the best of your ability:

    This is a plea to help a worthy person, He’s beset by all kinds of difficulties, financial but mostly health-related.

    It may not be a do-or-die situation, I wouldn’t and couldn’t presume such a thing. But I’m certain that whatever help you can offer will be more than a gesture. It may make the final difference between making it and folding. We certainly don’t want to see humans folding simply for lack of support. So let’s all do the best we can and support our brothers and sisters.

    Cindy, aka Tolstoy Cat, will be in charge of orchestrating this all-out relief effort. Meanwhile, I can only ask you to do the best you can.


    Roger Nowosielski


    Thank you for listening.

  • Cindy

    I’m not sure where in CA you live, Realist. But here are some good people–good for meals, but also good for solidarity.

    The Food not Bombs Movement

    Here are the chapters in California.

    Food Not Bombs is one of the fastest growing revolutionary movements and is gaining momentum throughout the world. There are hundreds of autonomous chapters sharing free vegetarian food with hungry people and protesting war and poverty. Food Not Bombs is not a charity.

    You’re in my heart. I’d gladly do anything I can. Whatever that is. Even just research. You can always contact my from my blog. xxoo

  • Great points, Glenn. The main thing is – don’t let the house go if you’re close to owning it outright.

    Also, fuck cable TV and all the unnecessary amenities. None of that contributes to good life.

    Kids, too, will be able to fend on their own. So even if their education is interrupted for a stretch, it’s not the end of the world. We all have to adjust to change in our living conditions. And that calls for human resiliency, not for despair.

    Lastly, the Realist must explore all possibilities of obtaining temporary aid to help him get over the hump. But first thing is first. Getting one’s health in order, because I still believe that influences his entire outlook and totally demoralizes him.

  • Realist, your story is a sad one, but one we’ve been living in Michigan for the last five years. I hope the situation evens out, not just for you but for the entire country.

    I can’t add to what others have written. But I will mention this caveat: Doctors are not god, they are humans with human foibles. Look for a second opinion, if you can.

    I’m praying for you and your family.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Realist –

    I really don’t want to see you go, but unlike the others I won’t counsel you to stick with your internet connection.

    I hope you don’t mind, but here’s a few suggestions. They aren’t pretty, but they may help.

    1 – You said your house is close to being paid off. Can you consider an equity loan? I used an equity loan to pay off my house in the Philippines. The mortgage on my house here is upside-down now as a result. I may lose my house here (came within five days of a foreclosure sale last year)…but no one’s going to repossess my house overseas.

    2 – Are you old enough to consider a reverse mortgage? For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, you basically sell your house to the bank, they pay off what little’s left, and instead of paying rent, the bank uses your equity to pay you a monthly payment as long as you live there.

    3 – College for the kids…tell them to take out as many loans as they need to afford college…and I strongly recommend Western Governors University. It’s a completely online university, accredited nationwide, and is MUCH cheaper since it’s a non-profit university. Not only that, but it’s competency-based – in other words, if you can test out of a class instead of sitting through three months of stuff that’s too easy, you can do that. My Pell Grant paid for all but $400 for an entire year’s worth of tuition, books, and fees. Google it and check it out – it’s legit. Time magazine called WGU “the best university you’ve never heard of”. Also, you may want to consider it for yourself. Remember – no one can repossess an education.

    4 – Let’s all hope the health care reform DOES go through…because if you can’t afford it, the government will subsidize it. That, and they can’t deny you for your condition. Your choice of doctor, your choice of carrier, and the government will help you pay – really, now, is that such a bad thing?

    5 – If the medicine or procedure you need can’t be found stateside, consider going out-of-country. Millions of Americans do so every year – and I have done so, too.

    6 – Did you spend any time in the military? And if so, is there any way you could claim disability? And will California’s L&I help you at all?

    7 – And this is IMPORTANT. I went nearly a year without paying the mortgage on the house I’m in – because I stayed in near-constant contact with the company that held the mortgage. This can be a real pain (ASC is famous for being a pain), but it can really help you in the short term.

    8 – If you have creditors, you can negotiate with them. I did with mine, and that also saved us perhaps two thousand over the past year. Where I grew up Down South, we called it ‘poor-mouthing’…but you’ve got to not only tell them how bad it is, but also be able to prove it. AND if you have to, you can say “screw the credit rating” and stop paying them. When push comes to shove, you can get away with paying only utilities and absolute necessities…and tell the creditors and the collection agencies to pack sand. It doesn’t feel right to do it, but it’s an option.

    9 – Negotiate with your utilities…maybe that will work, maybe not. Also, it hurts one’s pride, but check local food banks and talk to local government agencies and ask if there are any programs that can help you.

    10 – If all else fails, declare bankruptcy. It’s not so easy to do, but IIRC if you do so, you can stay in your house.

    11 – And one last thing…a paradigm shift. In the final analysis, none of us really own our homes (unless they have a ‘homestead exemption, IIRC) because if we don’t pay our taxes, the government takes our homes. Property taxes are a fancy name for rent…and all of us who own a home are simply paying rent to the government. If you do have to give up your house, this perception might make it hurt a little less.

    Realist, I wish you the very best, and while I hope you can keep your home, I hope much more that you can keep your health.

  • Yes, that’s the first thing, man. Find out by any means possible what the fuck is wrong. Because as it stands, everything you say and do can’t help but affect your entire outlook – in terms of your financial situation and all other troubles you’re experiencing.

  • Clavos

    Realist, you and I don’t often agree on much, but having just gone through more than four years of horror as my wife’s primary caregiver, I sincerely wish, from my heart, that your docs find the remedy for what ails you very soon.

    Hang in there, friend.

  • Realist,

    No matter what, try to keep your computer!

    For-Profit-Health-Care is what is keeping us all sick, and, bringing this country to it’s knees.

    I am so sorry, to read your story this morning, and, we all must, no matter what we think of the present administration or each-other, do something, to end this absolute-tragedy!

    My husband and I, just bought, Kevin Trudeau’s two books, Natural Cures:”They” Don’t Want You To Know About, and, More Natural “Cures” Revealed. maybe somehow, these books could help you.

    :[ so, sorry…

  • EB, I’m not sure there’s a governor magical enough to stop the downward spiral in California. You need a new legislature and some basic constitutional reforms as well, and even then the recovery process will be slow. The scary part is that California is where the current administration is going to take the whole country if they can’t be stopped.


  • STM

    Yeah, mate, hope everything works out OK for you. In the meantime, keep writing whatever you can.

  • Best of luck, Realist. Hopefully our next Governor can help turn things around.

  • OK Realist,

    You ask for positive energy and perhaps even a positive message.

    Here goes.

    The first lesson you learn when you get into a shit’s creek like this one is gratitude. There is the first key to your sanity in holding on in what may degenerate into a very scary situation.

    When I lived on the streets in 1982-3, I learned to become grateful for many things. I did not search in garbage cans for food; I had relatively good health; I was in a city and not a rural environment; I didn’t smoke; I didn’t drink; I didn’t do drugs; my mind was clear.

    You have your own list.

    Secondly, visualize what you really want. Make it a simple, clear and unfettered vision, a single sentence positive statement. Repeat this vision to yourself over and over again. Eventually, you will work unconsciously to achieve this vision – and you will achieve it.

    When I was living in the streets in 1982-3, a friend of mine offered me this advice. I had a single sentence then. “I will be successful, a father and husband, living in a brick house.” In 1994, I had achieved all this, though the house I lived in was stone, not brick. Then, in 1995, I thought about a second goal – the one I work towards now. “I will awaken in the morning, go to my mail-box and pick up my royalty checks, and come home, have breakfast and get to work writing.” This goal is still in the works.

    Put your internet connection as a very high priority. As long as there is a functioning internet, and you can connect to it somehow, you will be able to somehow make money off of it, if you are creative enough.

    Finally, may you see full recovery from whatever ails you; may you return to work if you can, and if not, may you create for yourself work that fulfills you.

  • Roger, I have read worse horror stories at BC. The first lesson you learn when you get into a shit’s creek like this one is gratitude.

  • Man, this reads like a horror story.

  • Reb Ruvy:

    Just send me some positive energy. I can ask for no more than that.

  • This is hard to read, Realist. I feel bad for you and do not know how to help you at all. I live on the other side of the world.

  • I go in again first thing in the morning to try one more time.

    Thanks for the kind words. They help a lot.

  • Realist, contrary to what you may think, I’d hate to see you stop writing here at BC. We may not always agree, but your articles are always interesting and thought provoking.

    So tell your doctors to figure out what the hell is wrong with you and fix it pronto.