The non-medical, medical expenses

My youngest had her routine appointment at SickKids yesterday. She has been diagnosed with Lupus for 3.5 years.

While the appointment was her regular check-in with the specialist, she’s been going downhill over the last few weeks, and by yesterday, the hospital was the right place for her to be. Lupus is an auto-immune disease. It stands to reason that by the time she’s back in school for three weeks, those 1800 other kids have passed around versions of this and that bug, and she’s usually in rough shape.

Although she’s still sick today, at least she’s home. I’m confident that the plan of action we have for the next seven days will help her to rally back to almost her ol’ self.

As I was counting my blessings in the waiting room yesterday, and wondering if they’d admit her or not, I was pondering how ready I was for her to be admitted. For a moment, my mind turned to my cash flow spreadsheet.

This is a lifestyle I’ve lived now for a number of years, and I’m reasonably accustomed to it. Not saying I love it, just saying I have a reasonably good handle on what comes with the territory of a loved one being hospitalized.

When this happens, my expenses can be hit pretty hard. Have you thought about the non-medical expenses that may occur if there’s a significant medical event in your house?

Here’s where I get hit:

  • Increased “dining out” expenditures: If my daughter is an inpatient, they feed her. Since she is still within the demographic of SickKids (they top out at 18), they encourage parents to stay with the patient. (I never had to be encouraged, I just did). There’s been times I’ve been there for two weeks. Nobody feeds me. I’m responsible to fend for myself. This means I’m using their cafeteria and prepared food outlets within the hospital. My parents haven’t been in the country to provide me with back-up during these past episodes, and my ex-partner wasn’t able to support me in this way very well.
  • Increased communications expenses: My cell phone plan allows X number of minutes for voice and data until a premium rate kicks in.  That plan is sufficient all of the time, until I start using it to call friends and family all the time with health updates. The last time she was an inpatient for a longer period of time, I signed up for a Rogers Rocket Stick so I could do some resemblance of staying connected to my job and the outside world. That’s a contract that’s still active at $42/month. I do use it, and when I need it, I REALLY need it. This started out as a non-medical expense related to a medical emergency.
  • Increased transportation expenses:  Yesterday, I spent $41 on cab fare to and from the hospital, because my daughter literally could not walk. When we got to the curb of the hospital, we found a wheel-chair. If she’s an in-patient, I need to come home and refresh our pajamas and clothing reasonably often, and just have a shower. Yep, sometimes a good stiff drink. For folks who may have a loved one admitted to a hospital in another town, this would amplify even more. In the days when I drove, I’ve paid hundreds of dollars in parking fees.
  • Lost wages: When I can’t show up to my part-time gig, I don’t get paid. Many people may have this situation with their regular source of income. I’m lucky, I still received an income from my full-time gig.
  • Increased needless spending: There’s been times, I’ve just spent money on random things in the hospital, probably because I just needed a hug, not that I needed the purse/jewelery/book, etc. I’m more disciplined about that now.
  • In-patient entertainment: for some hospitals, there’s an additional fee for television services, in-room phone for local calls, etc. SickKids happens to be outstanding in this department, because their clientelle were raised with TVs, you can find them everywhere. No charge. That’s not the same when your loved one is an adult.

In Canada, we’re so lucky to have the health care we do. I’ll never complain about my taxes in this country. I’ve already benefitted from some amazing services for my family.

For those of you with drug and other medical coverage, just don’t lull yourself into believing that you’ll never have any medical costs. While the hospital room and the medications might be covered, there’s a lot more that comes with it.

For today, I’m thankful that we’re home, and hopeful that tomorrow will be a brighter day than yesterday!


5 responses to this post.

  1. Sorry to hear about your daughter. I hope she is feeling better soon.


  2. Not an easy time. Fingers crossed that she will get stronger with each day. Hang in there!


  3. Boy can I relate! When our little guy, who has a life-threatening disorder, gets sick (fever, vomiting, etc.) he HAS to be admitted to hospital. Even over 3-4 days until he is well enough to come home, those related non-medical expenses sure can add up. I’ve set aside a little money in an envelope (hidden of course) that is there for just such an emergency, seeing as it always happens when we are between paycheques.
    I hope your little gal is feeling better soon. And try to remember, this too shall pass.


  4. I hope your daughter feels better soon and that you all can avoid a hospital stay! Healing hugs and prayers for you and your girl!


  5. My heart breaks for you and your daughter. I can’t imagine being in these same circumstances and living down in the States without medical coverage. I was in that situation with my youngest when we first moved to the US and he had to be on a nebulizer. Bad enough that you have the stress of one of your babies being sick, but to have financial concerns on top of it just plain sucks. I hope lupus is one of those things that will be cured (or just better understood) one of these days / soon. You have a very lucky daughter to have a mom like you.


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