Hello. My name is Amanda. I will be turning 35 soon. I’m married with one preteen child. My husband and I both work full time. Always have. I’ve had a job since the day I graduated high school and have worked ever since. I’ve worked fast food, retail, manufacturing, healthcare, child care. Some places closed down on me and I had to scramble to find something else. My husband and I aren’t above taking a crap job to hold us over to a better one. Right now both of our jobs are decent for the area we live in, the rural South. Before Covid, we were financially comfortable and had a small savings as cushion. In the last year, though, it seems like everything that could go wrong has.
First, we lost our home to flooding. It was completely destroyed. We had no flood insurance because we “weren’t in a flood zone” and our homeowners insurance wouldn’t cover. We were able to get some FEMA assistance and sell the remains of our house to a local realtor that flips houses, between that and most of our savings we were able to get out from under that, but we had nowhere to go. In our area, housing is difficult to find and expensive when you do find it. We’ve had a huge influx of people moving into the area to work at a poultry plant so rentals are almost non-existent. So, we moved in with my mom and step-dad’s basement. No heat, no air, no plumbing, but it was a place to sleep. Occasionally sewage would back up into the floor from the drain down there but it was our only viable option. We lived there for six months. My child slept upstairs on the couch so as not to be subjected to that environment.
During that six months, my husband contracted Covid, then I did. My husband got paid for his two weeks but since my job is just a three person operation, I had to file unemployment. It took an additional six months to receive the unemployment funds for those two weeks I was out due to “processing issues”. I did not receive the additional pandemic unemployment. During this time, my husband also found out that he has a mass inside his right thyroid that needs to be removed. Non-cancerous as far as they could tell, but still causes him to feel like he’s choking sometimes. That discovery came with medical bills.
Then, I had a gall bladder attack. It took two months to get to the point of surgery. I had to miss work for several doctor appointments for scans and ultrasounds and tests. Finally, I had the surgery on a Tuesday and was expected to go back to work Friday. Thursday morning I was in severe pain. Couldn’t eat. By that night I wanted to die. I called my surgeon, the nurse said walk around, it’s just air. I went to the local ER, they treated me like I was drug-seeking and dismissed me. After two more ER trips, an ambulance ride, and one nurse who listened, we found out that during my original surgery one of my bile ducts had been severed and for days had been leaking bile directly into my abdomen. Nothing touched the pain. Morphine. Dilaudid. Nothing. Once they figured out what it was, they were able to fix it. Emergency surgery, ER visits, ambulance bills, tests, scans, doctors, medicines, a hospital stay. All on top of an additional 3 weeks of lost work. I used every bit of PTO I had available but it did not cover the full three weeks. Much less did it touch what we now owed in medical bills.
We did receive the stimulus payments and used those as best as we could, but my mom and step-dad were selling their house and moving so we had to find somewhere to go. We found a house that had stood empty for 3 years. The fridge still had food in it from the last occupants that had been sitting without power since they left. We had no clue if the plumbing, heat, air, anything worked. We didn’t know what shape the roof or foundation was in. But the asking price was $30,000 and that was about the top end of our budget. We made an offer, and still almost didn’t get it. We closed thinking, “OK. We are gonna start moving forward again. We are going to get back on top.” Well, we were wrong. The company that handled our closing was supposed to confirm that the house was in shape to be covered by our insurance company. The bank had us get a quote and the closing company was supposed to handle it from there. They didn’t. We get moved in and find out that, not only do we not have insurance on our house, but the company we originally looked at wouldn’t insure the house because the roof needed replaced and most of the original wood siding (house built in the mid ’40’s) needed replacing. We could not afford that at all, but we had to have insurance on the house by law. We had to take out a personal loan for the roof replacement and repair the siding ourselves “good enough” until we can afford to replace it. So, if you’re keeping track, we have several thousand in medical bills, a home loan, a personal loan for a new roof, and zero in savings due to trying to keep afloat.
We didn’t want to. We tried to avoid it. Working second jobs, cleaning houses, yard work, yard sales, anything we could. It was never enough. Plumbing had to be fixed. The heat worked, but the air didn’t. We had to get that fixed. On top of all that, the utility bills from this being an old house with not enough insulation were crazy. Almost $400 gas bill to heat. $300 to cool.
My husband still hasn’t had his thyroid surgery. I’ve just recently been told that my pancreas isn’t functioning properly so I’m about to have to begin the whole test, scan, doctor cycle again to figure that out and get it fixed. Every time we think we are going to be able to catch up a little bit, something throws up a wall. We are at the end of a very frayed rope and out of options. So I’m turning to the internet. I doubt anyone will read this, and even if they do I doubt anyone will donate. But I’m out of options. Medical bills, credit card bills, day to day bills, food, gas, utilities. We are drowning. Any help would be a blessing far beyond my ability to describe or repay. If you made it this far, thanks for reading.