Stupid FSA!

As if finances weren’t already stretched to the max, the flexible spending account has decided several of our medical expenses are ineligible. Now I have to replay over $500 to the FSA. That’s $500 I just don’t have. $500 spent on glasses for Jonathan and Luke; getting Oliver’s damaged tooth surgically extracted…

2015 is the first year in about 10yrs I’ve used an FSA, and this is why. The FSA always lists eligible expenses, I verify the expense is on the eligible list, then the FSA refuses to cover the expense. Only *certain* vision services are covered (meaning: only lasik is covered). Only *certain* dental procedures are covered (meaning: only adult dental surgery is covered). I’m good with paper work. I’m good with rules. I’m good with lists. Even I can *barely* use an FSA account.

FSA’s are designed to save money by allowing pre-tax dollars to be contributed to medical expenses. Theoretically, this can save up to 30% of the cost since the contributions are pre-tax. The problem is, once the contributions are made, those contributions are forfeit if not used toward an eligible expense. Of course the FSA company comes up with every possible reason not to reimburse claims! That’s how they make money.

You know what I’m not having next year? Another FSA account. This year has been a complete waste of money and a huge hassle. Sure, the theoretical 30% discount sounds great, but in practice, it’s a total sham.

I don’t even know how I’m going to afford this. Do I chose not to buy groceries for a month? Do I chose not to pay the mortgage for a month? It’s not like I’m sitting here wasting my money on cable TV, Netflix, or even clothes for myself and the kids. Hell, I can’t even afford flea medicine for the pets. Where the am I going to get $500???

Rain For Days (And Health Update)


Rain overflows the gutters

Rain overflows the gutters

It has been raining for days on end. Today, I had to leave work early to pick Oliver up from school because so many roads had flooded. As soon as we got home, the rain poured so hard and fast that the gutters overflowed.

I wish leaving early had ended my work day, but I have a project due in 2 days so I worked from home until nearly 10PM. Working late wouldn’t be so frustrating if I were paid overtime, however, I earn just enough that I don’t qualify for overtime in my state. I could explain exactly how that works, but it would be a terribly boring read. The important part is that the company I work for is legally exempt from paying overtime to employees earning a certain amount.

Many of the roads I use to get to work are flooded and barricaded tonight so I may end up working from home all day tomorrow as well. I’d rather work from home, honestly. I accomplish more at home than at the office and there are fewer interruptions at home.

Health Update: Asthma and Fibro

My asthma symptoms are lessening. My bedroom was so stuffy tonight, I turned on the air conditioner to relieve the overwhelming humidity and staleness. Humidity is supposed to be helpful for asthma sufferers however, I find too much humidity worsens my asthma symptoms. Leave it to me to be the weird medical outlier.

My fibro symptoms are a bit better as well. I’m taking 200mg guaifenesin in the morning and 400mg guaifenesin in the evening. The constant ache, stiffness, and sore spots in my lower back have improved tremendously. I can bend to pick items up from the floor without wincing in pain which is a huge improvement. I’ve also been able to sit in the floor, and rise to standing position without needing to pull myself up because the pain and weakness in my knees, ankles, and hips has decreased.

My Coworkers Earn More

An inch worm measures my seat

An inch worm measures the car seat

My coworkers aren’t struggling like I am. Their houses are more expensive. Most have one stay at home spouse. Most have kids. I’m the only person at who can never afford to go out to eat with the group; the only person who worries about small purchases – like a $14 book.

I estimate I’m making between 30-50% less than my coworkers based on the items they discuss purchasing, home size/neighborhood/price, and the number and quality of vehicles they own. I struggle to keep my car running. They’re buying a brand new motorcycle in addition to their newly purchased car. Also, none of them appear to have much debt or struggle with money. There are always signs when someone struggles with money – calls to banks overheard, inbound calls from collections agencies, bills left out, checking bank accounts before going to lunch…

Since salaries are non-negotiable, and what coworkers are paid is a carefully guarded secret, the only alternative I have is to look for another job. The problem is, I’m not sure that I want another job. This isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life.

The Lost Rescue Inhaler

Moth rescued from sink

Moth rescued from sink

For the past week I’ve been sick. On top of seasonal allergy asthma, I caught a cold so I’ve been coughing and wheezing all week. I missed a partial day of work, which is unusual. In spite of having multiple chronic illnesses, I miss less than 1 day on average per year.

The terrible pharmacy mailed my rescue inhaler when I asked them to hold it for pickup. Now my rescue inhaler has mysteriously vanished from all postal records and my insurance will not permit another inhaler to be shipped. In fact, I can’t even pay for one out of pocket, which I tried to do in spite of being completely unable to afford it. So, as far as asthma medication is concerned, I’m up shit creek.

Fortunately I happen to have knowledge of other asthma treatments. While alternative treatments aren’t as effective as a rescue inhaler for acute shortness of breath, I’ve been able to keep myself out of the doctors office and hospital. I can’t afford an insurance copay for a doctor’s visit or hospital visit right now. This month, I had to choose between winter coats for the boys and copays. Winter coats won.

Here’s what I’ve been doing to control my asthma without access to a rescue inhaler:

  1. Take Nyquil (generic) at night to treat my cold. Nyquil contains an antihistamine and decongestant which both keep mucus from building up in my lungs.
  2. Mucinex DM (generic) during the day. It doesn’t cause drowsiness, keeps me from getting “hack attacks” (where I cannot stop coughing and have a bronchial spasm), and is an expectorant to keep mucus loose.
  3. Ginger tea. Ginger tea is good for asthma and it helps sooth a sore throat. I usually add honey which has antibacterial properties and is an herbal cough remedy.
  4. Crystalized ginger. Ginger is just plain good for asthma.
  5. I’m sure this goes without saying, but I’ve been drinking plenty of room temperature or warm water. Cold water induces coughing.
  6. Caffeine. Caffeine is nature’s bronchodilator. I drink warm black tea with honey when I feel my lungs tighten to preemptively ward off an attack.
  7. Consume absolutely NO milk products. Cow milk thickens mucus which worsens asthma symptoms.

What Would You Do: Suicidal Acquaintance

A friend of mine is suicidal again. Well, she’s not really my friend, per se. She’s more of an acquaintance who calls me to ask for things including money. I haven’t given her money in 8 years, but she still asks for my help. She wants help with an animal, help when her ex left, help getting groceries, the list goes on. I helped her board up a window once since she doesn’t know how to operate a drill or electric driver. She is the neediest people I have ever met and I think she thrives on neediness.

Her “fiance”, whom she has been dating for a month, left her. Now she wants to kill herself and “has a plan”. She threatens to commit suicide…and “has a plan”…with remarkable regularity. I took her seriously the first 6 threats of suicide. Now, after suicide threats too numerable to count, I think she might be threatening suicide for attention. My friendship is not enough attention. Lending her a patient ear and talking to her on IM at all hours of the day and night is not enough attention. Persuading her fiance to move in with her and propose to her after less than a month of dating is not enough attention. Nothing fills her endless cavernous need for attention.

Do I take her 10th…15th…20th…threat of suicide seriously? Do I distance myself from her? Do I tell her to knock it off? Tonight is a school night. I’m trying to, cook dinner, organize the kids’ papers, lunches, etc for school and get them to bed at a reasonable time. I really do not have time to drive well over an hour to help someone who I simply cannot help. (And it’s not like I haven’t tried and tried and TRIED to help). Yet, at the same time, I’m worried she will act on her “plan”. She has attempted suicide several times per her own admission, but I’m not even sure her “admissions” are truthful or if her “admissions” are another way to garner attention.

What would you do?

Math Tears and Suicide Swords

Well…I was going to write about my new fitness/sleep/activity tracking Jawbone UP, but that is just not in the cards for tonight.

I’ve worked an irregular schedule and I only slept 3hrs last night. I took a nap when I got home because I might be called into work tonight. While I was napping, Luke and Oliver knocked on the bedroom door. I tried to ignore them since Jonathan knew I was sleeping, but they woke me up 3 times.

Neither Luke nor Oliver did their homework or chore after they had been home more than 3hrs so I didn’t grant internet access. For three weeks, I’ve explained that chores and homework need to be done between 4-6P to get internet at 6P. And, for three weeks, neither child has done their homework and chore without being reminded incessantly. Yet, Luke and Oliver were mystified when the internet wasn’t available at 6P and, rather than asking Jonathan WHY the internet wasn’t available, decided to wake me up…3x… to “fix” the internet.

Fast forward to dinner. Oliver brings me his math homework in tears. He’s learning order of operation and is confused if multiplication or division comes first so he has two possible answers – both wrong. Hours before, Oliver asked Jonathan for homework help, but I wasn’t aware this had happened. I started explaining order of operations to Oliver and Jonathan comes upstairs shouting because Oliver saved his homework after Jonathan checked it originally and was asking me to re-check it in the middle of cooking dinner, hours after Jonathan first checked the homework.

At bedtime, Luke started putting the sheets on his bed, which he should have done much earlier in the evening. Luke got frustrated after trying to stretch the short side of the sheet across the long side of the bed and asked for a gun to kill himself. Instead of ignoring Luke, I took his suicide threat seriously. Jonathan got irritated because he thought Luke was being hyperbolic and that, by discussing it, I made the situation worse. Luke admitted he considered killing himself with the sword in his bedroom so I took the sword.

I try to handle Luke’s suicide threats calmly and take his threats seriously. Sometimes I wonder if Luke is suicidal or if he’s using suicide threats to manipulate the situation. Whatever Luke’s motivation, I feel ignoring the suicide threats sends the wrong message.  Some days, I don’t know what to do. Some days, Jonathan doesn’t know what to do so he shouts out of frustration. Since I don’t shout, I guess writing about my problems anonymously on the internet is my coping mechanism.

The Corporate Conundrum

Jonathan got paid well for his most recent jobs, and he gave me a little extra money . Now, I can afford guaifenesin and groceries at the same time! I can afford to buy more foundation to hide the butterfly rash that has been ever present for a few weeks now. I’m not ashamed of the butterfly rash, really. I just prefer to cover it up for work so people don’t ask what happened to my face daily. Butterfly rash doesn’t commonly occur with RA or fibromyalgia, I’m just one of the “lucky” few who has the face plague.

Speaking of work, I’m required to post my photo and name on a public website. Only my closest friends and coworkers know where I work. I’m very careful to keep my personal life and work life separate for many reasons, but the company I work for has been emphasizing “family culture” recently. I guess I’ll try removing photos of myself from social media so it’s harder to see if I’m me?

I don’t want coworkers hunting my social media profiles…or worse, the person who has stalked me in the past getting an updated photo of me. The HR representative who wrote me up for having a social media account in 2007 works in HR at the company I work for now.  While she’s not necessarily smart enough to track down my social media profiles herself, last time she requested a coworker to add me on social media and print out my personal profile which she used to write me up. Also, out of the hundreds of people who work in my building, a few are friends with an ex-boyfriend who has stalked me. All of this makes me leery of advertising who I am and what I look like to the corporate world when I’m usually unwilling to admit that I’m part of the corporate world.