There are obvious costs of being sick. You have to pay for medical insurance, prescriptions, medical equipment, etc. For routine visits there are co-pays, but it also costs you time, and even part of your income if you have to take off time from work to go to the doctor. If you have to have surgery, you pay for everything from the use of surgical equipment to linen rental. If you just so happen to be hospitalized, you pay for meals, IV lines, and even administrative fees (to “file” paperwork YOU have to fill out). Of course, these costs vary by condition and hospital or medical center. But, I’m not writing this to talk about the nonsensical things that patients have to pay for (we all have those stories), but I do want to talk about a bill that all patients pay; one which many don’t even realize that they are paying for it. I want to talk about being emotionally financed.
Emotions cannot be measured. There is no scientific method or mathematical equation that tells us why we feel how we feel. We’re human beings, we’re complex. Emotions are invisibly present, yet, they are the driving force for all of our actions. So when life throws rock after rock at us, it becomes increasingly hard to identify why, what, when, and where the money goes. When we’re sick or injured we and those around us focus our attention on that. Our focus is on the bigger picture, which is getting better (which it should be), but without us noticing, the little things fall through the cracks and our money goes with it.
So where exactly does this money go?
When you or a loved one is sick or hospitalized, the last thing you are thinking about is cooking a fresh meal. Although eating out is likely counterintuitive to your health. You may find yourself constantly doing what’s convenient because cooking is the last thing on your mind when you’re trying to just make it through the day. That is why there are so many quick services and fine dining eateries popping up within walking distance of hospitals. What often happens, even after the health crisis is over, those old habits still follow. My husband and I were guilty of using a delivery service after I had surgery or gave birth, then months later we were still doing the same thing; not always because it was necessary, but because we developed a habit of doing it.
- Unnecessary help aids
I am guilty of owning things in multiples, and I am not talking about shoes or underwear. At one point, I kept buying canes that supposedly had different features. There was one that stood on its own, another that was more adjustable, and another that was supposed to be easier to grip. I also spent tons of money on knee braces, I knew after the first 10 that they weren’t working for me, but I kept buying them anyway. I also bought a bunch of different insoles. They all had features like “arch support”, “plantar fasciitis support”, and “shock absorption.” Due to me having so many problems, I thought that it made sense to get one of everything. Having multiples of any of these things didn’t make sense, because, essentially, they all did the same thing.
I consider pacifiers to be anything that will temporarily “pacify” us. For me, that was food. I did what I called “pain eating” because in my head I had convinced myself that a candy bar helped me to cope (I did A LOT of coping). I would also pacify myself with online shopping, alcohol, or coffee. A pacifier can be anything for anyone. Of course, none of these “pacifiers” actually helped me cope with pain. In hindsight, I wish I was pacifying my pockets instead of my emotions, but we live and we learn.
- Pain Erasers
In our search for relief of our symptoms, we will buy anything to feel “normal”—so if that means buying miracle socks that supposedly provide migraine relief, we will buy it. I, myself, got caught up with all things copper. I had the copper socks, bracelet, necklace, elbow sleeve, and the knee brace. And the only thing it relieved were my pockets from a few hundred dollars. I even spent money on topical pain creams, supplements, and “vitamin and mineral” injections that were “guaranteed” to offer natural relief.
- “Future” Investments
I consider “future investments” to be when we buy items for when we feel better. While it is always a good thing (in my book) to keep the faith and always plan ahead, some “future” investments are a waste of money. Many of us have done that—like buying clothing we say that we’re going to lose weight to fit into. In reality, the only thing we’re losing is money.
- “The Great Revival”
Any purchase that we made in an attempt to revive our “old selves.” After I had my first two knee surgeries, my gait was off and my leg was much weaker. Sadly, I had a weakness for high heels. I could barely walk in sneakers, yet, I kept buying high-heeled shoes waiting for the day that I could wear them again. That day never came. I was honestly buying those heels fully understanding that I would never be able to wear them, but they were my way of holding on to the person I felt I had lost and was secretly hoping would return. Now, I just wish that I would have returned those heels and got my money back.
- Sympathy Spending
My husband and mother have done this a lot for me. They, of course, want to see me happy, so when they would see me hurting and depressed they were quick to try and perk me up by buying me stuff. My husband has bought me designer handbags, which remain unused. He also bought me another wedding band, which I used for a while but don’t wear anymore. My mom would buy me socks (I have a thing for socks), take me out wherever I wanted to go, or buy me things like GLEE (Yes, GLEE) board game or a Karaoke machine, because I told her I needed entertainment while I was on bed rest. Did I take advantage of my family feeling sorry for me? I certainly did (because I was feeling sorry for myself), and wasting their money in the process.