Saturday, July 19, 2008

She Works Hard for the Money

July 1
Vic has an appointment with a surgeon today. He will have surgery to remove the tumor on his adrenal gland. Now is the guessing game of when; how do we fit this into an unknown schedule for breast cancer surgery or treatment. He is required to take some super duper medication for one month before surgery. BTW – this medication would cost $4,000 for a one month supply if we didn’t have insurance. This is ridiculous, but it also hits home to me that I can’t lose my job and my health insurance. His surgery is scheduled for August 4.

I met with my HR Comp person seeking information about short term disability, what the company’s policy is regarding leave without pay, what is needed as far as hours to have my health insurance continue and more importantly, what is FMLA or the Washington Care Act as it relates to time off to attend to Vic. I’m new at this job and haven’t built up leave balances.

He suggested that we have family or friends spend time with Vic in the hospital and to bring him home from the hospital when he is discharged – thus it will allow me to work and not use what little leave I do have. I’m appalled at this. While I don’t plan on spending every day with Vic in the hospital (3-5 days), I WILL be there for the day of his surgery and once he gets out of the ICU. If something happened to him while I was working, that guilt would be too much to bear.

HR Comp person goes on to say that I’m worrying about this too early; that I need to wait to see what the treatment plan is and then we can talk. No, I want to have things in order so I have some control over my world that feels like it is spinning out of control. Assuming innocence in this person’s discussion, he tells me that his wife had cancer so he is familiar with the process and steps. "She had her chemo on Fridays and went to work on Mondays. Yeah, she was a little tired, but she didn't miss a day of work during her chemo treatments." Good news, I think. I have no idea what happens in chemo because I haven’t researched that far.

He goes on to say, she was in treatment for quite a while, but never missed a day of work. Wow, I’m thinking; maybe this cancer thing isn’t too bad and my job won’t be in jeopardy. His next words were so audacious, I wanted to walk out; “But she didn’t survive her second round with cancer and died.” Oh, but she didn't miss a day of work? I'm sure her employer was glad that she didn't "miss a day of work".

My supervisor is very supportive and I value her. My 2nd coworker - who is a 11 year BC survivor - has been a great support as well. My supervisor is very supportive of me taking whatever time is needed for both Vic and I. I tell her I am concerned about my job and the health insurance. She assures me that I have nothing to worry about. I believe her. I ask if she could give me a days notice if I will be terminated so I can get back onto Vic’s health insurance. Dummy me decided to have my own insurance and was removed from Vic’s insurance May 15. She assures me again that this is not going to happen.

Another person at work tells me things will be fine. They launch into the story of their friend who had breast cancer who happened to be a health nut. The friend ate healthy and exercised regularly. But she died and the thought was that the chemo was too toxic for her system. How does this help me? I’m going to be fine?

I have quite a few melt downs at work, but everyone is supportive. I try to maintain at work and hold off the melt downs for home. We get a copy of the pathology report . . . .

I wish I'd found this website before:

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