As I wrote about last week my husband has been sick for the last few weeks. Like really sick. Like 3 trips to the ER, two trips to the regular dr, and a 3 day stay in the hospital in the past two weeks. I can’t even count how many different medications.
But that doesn’t even begin to talk about the effects it’s had on our regular life. Yes, he’s missed work and was gone for a few days while he was in the hospital but even when he’s home it’s not business as usual around here. He’s asleep in bed or resting on the couch. He’s not being a baby, it’s extremely painful to walk. He also doesn’t want to eat so even something as routine as cooking dinner is different. Do I bother to cook a meal when my husband isn’t eating and my kids will balk at the food? Or do I just make Mac and Cheese again? Besides, who has time to cook a meal when I have twice the “stuff” around the house to do. My husband is usually in charge of homework and baths. That falls on me while he is sick. He usually takes out the trash and walks the dog on the weekends.
Apparently he also picks up all the discarded socks by the front door. I had no idea that everyone in my family takes off their socks as soon as they walk in the house. While he was the hospital a sock pile grew by the door of massive proportions. I kept thinking “Where are all these socks coming from?” Think about it, 3 pairs of socks per day get left at the front door. After 5 days there are 30 dirty socks lying there. Gross. He does a good job of keeping them picked up! I’ve been shielded from the sock realities in my house.
All this on top of making sure that my hubby has everything he needs to get better. Is he comfortable? Is he drinking enough? How’s the swelling? Is it worse? Better? Do you need me to charge your phone?
I’m not complaining. I’m truly not. I seriously just never thought about what happens when someone gets sick. I never thought it out all the way anyways. He’s just always been there. Steady. Strong. Dependable. I never thought about what if HE needed ME. It’s always the other way around.
At the hospital they asked if we had a “living will” and “healthcare power of attorney”. I was proud, because we do. They asked me to bring it in next time I came by for a visit. Of course I could do that!
Except I can’t find it.
Doesn’t do me much good then does it? Still can’t find it. Why? Because I don’t have time to look for it. I’m busy taking care of everything else around here that needs taking care of. My husband could probably find it in two minutes but he’s too sick to look for it.
Which brings me to my point. There is a point in here, I swear. Even if you have everything in place for an emergency make sure BOTH people know all the details of how to handle that emergency. The stresses of dealing with an illness are far greater than you can imagine until you go through it. Yes, the sickness takes up time, but so does dealing with all the extra socks. Your spouse probably does things you don’t even know about and those surprise duties will fall on you when they aren’t there to do them.
You have to have a plan for the “what if”. Write it down and keep it someplace you both can access. Plan it together. It doesn’t have to take a long time or be updated very often but have something in place for the spouse who is left to take care of the other. I know it seems like you have plenty of time. That it’s not a priority, but when the emergency happens it’s too late. That’s the thing about emergencies… you don’t get any notice.
Where our planning has worked
- We have a good emergency fund so we haven’t had to stress about medical bills or lost income… yet. Hopefully we won’t have to.
- Our bills are low so that if we do have to go without his income for a long time the pressure is less on me to produce a high income. Our savings would suffer big time but the actual amount I would have to produce in order to keep the lights on isn’t outrageous.
- We do HAVE all the needed paperwork. (I just can’t locate it right now!)
- We have strong routines that my kids are used to. This makes it easier for me to care for them alone. They know what is expected of them and do it without much complaint or guidance.
Where our planing has not worked
- I don’t know where the papers are!
- I don’t know what bills are due when.
- I don’t have a strong support system for childcare or other general stuff. I could grow this over time but as of right now when my husband isn’t available I don’t really have anyone to call to help me.
- My income alone will not support our basic needs.
Obviously there are some holes in our plan. During an emergency isn’t the best time to figure this out. If you need to get a basic emergency plan going here is a resource to get you started on what you need.