Daze of My Life: Money for who knows what
Daze of My Life
Money for who knows what
And I don't know when, either. But I have to believe, given my diagnosis - and original prognosis, that my cancer is going to cost me some money, some time. I don't mean co-pays. I don't mean health insurance premiums (which I already pay along with my employer). I don't mean income. I mean, outgo. Whether it's for treatment/medications; experimental or otherwise, not covered and/or provided by my HMO, increased health insurance premiums should I have to go on C.O.B.R.A. or have to buy the guaranteed-issue health insurance offered by the state of Maryland; long-term care, should my condition deteriorate to where completing the activities of daily living become too difficult for me and my wife to manage, the road ahead is likely littered with dollars needing to be paid to ease a troubled mind - mine.
As a consequence of this expected/anticipated future (hopefully not present), I'm somewhat hesitant to spend money now, fearful that I'll be forsaking the necessities of that future for the pleasures of the present. I don't want to look back one day (later) and wish that I had done/planned things differently; better prepared myself and my family financially for the inevitable cash out-flow on the horizon. Because once I/we get there, it's not as if we'll have the time, energy or opportunity, realistically speaking, for a do-over. At that point of no return, we'll have to make the best of a bad situation - and one likely to get worse. And so, as I try to view the obstacles and anxieties heading our way, I'm wondering if there's a way that I can manage/minimize the financial impact at present of some of the cascading commitments likely to befall us in the future.
Saving money now for that rainy day (doomsday) is my one option (other than winning the lottery, which is hardly a plan). Moreover, as simple and as prudent as that saving plan sounds (and this is where the cancer conundrum really escalates), depriving myself now of miscellaneous life-style enhancing, stress-reducing, quality of life experiences/expenditures/inducements might in fact hasten my decline by eliminating the kinds of positive perks that seriously ill patients need to have to fight through the challenges and demands of living - and hopefully not dying - according to one's own presumptuous prognosis. Ergo, if I plan for a future that doctors/health care professionals tell me is likely to occur, it might very well be a self-fulfilling path I'm following - which means I'll just be another casualty in the war against cancer. However, if I don't plan/act accordingly, it may indeed have the opposite effect. If I don't live like I'm planning to die, maybe I won't die while I'm doing all this planning. But what if I'm wrong? What if I live more for the present, spend the money now, but end up really needing the money later?
Later could be sooner, though, six months from now - given the top end of my original two-year prognosis, communicated at the first - and only - Team Lourie meeting with my oncologist back on March 5, 2009. And if in fact six months is a lifetime left, then what am I waiting for, another six months? (This reminds me of the Henny Youngman joke: "My doctor told me I have six months to live. I told him I couldn't pay my bill. He gave me another six months." If only it were that simple.)
I'm still trying to make sense of it all, obviously. I don't want my potentially irresponsible, and poor financial planning/decision-making now, to be my legacy. I want to be remembered with a smile, not a grimace.
Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.