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After a long absence...

December 31st, 2009 at 03:08 pm

So it has been a few months since I've posted on here. Really, not a lot has changed. The army has placed me in a TDY (temporary duty) status indefinitely pending my wife's transplant. This means I still get all pay and allowances, but don't go to work. I do my PT test every 6 months, and submit leaves and passes as needed for medical appointments, but other than that my full time job is taking care of my wife. It's a pretty sweet deal.

To that end, DW is doing pretty good. She gets sick from time to time still, but much improved. She has a blood clot in her fistula, which she has an appointment today for to have it looked at again.

I go to Mayo on January 20th to have my donor evaluation physical to give DW my kidney. Mayo is going to proceed with a drug called Velcade that is used in bone cancer as a form of pill induced chemo. This is supposed to kill DW's immune system so she won't reject my kidney. It's a wonder drug for organ donation because it takes two otherwise incompatible people and gives them the same survivability rate as a good match. All that is required now is blood type matching. It takes 16 weeks on this drug and it's not a good option for all people, because the patient needs a caretaker for those 16 weeks, so we both would be out of work if I had a normal job. Most people cannot afford that, much less to do that and cover lodging and expenses while away from home. The army foots the bill and then some for all of this.

I'm almost done submitting a packet to the Surgeon General to have signed off on to give DW my kidney. The military has to have approval from the Surgeon General to allow active duty organ donation.

Not too much else going on. Had an awesome Christmas. First time my sisters and I were all at home together with my Grandma in 10 years. Grandma teared up, which is a lot for a roughneck from the foothills of Appalachia. My little sister managed to get Christmas R&R from Afghanistan in order to make it happen. She had to fly for 3 days to get home.

We're strongly considering my departure from the military. While it's been a good ride, I don't think it's what I want to do. I would much prefer to be a lawyer and go into politics. It's a difficult decision though because while Doctors and Lawyers often make a great deal of money, they sacrifice their family time in order to do so. That in itself is a major factor in my wanting to get out of the military.

The retirement options of the military are great, and if I do another 14 years from the time I finish this contract, I get out when I'm 38 with full medical for myself and DW for the rest of our lives and our kids until they graduate high school. It would also pay $38K towards one of our kids college. Difficult to pass up. The problem with this is that the second I sign re-enlistment papers I come down on orders. Right now I'm what's called "fenced in". Meaning I'm a first term soldier with 3 or more duty stations, so the army cannot move me again until I re-up. However, I also have just shy of 18 months of dwell time, which is the magic number for orders. I would be sent back to Cuba without doubt.

DW doesn't care which I choose. The money is quite good in the military, considering the pension with disability. I'll also qualify for veterans disability because of giving DW my kidney, chronic problems with my knees, and the fact that I'm being referred for guess what? A hearing aide at 22 years old. Gotta love the army. The doc says I'm so deaf, I probably wouldn't hear a shell casing hit the ground or concertina wire being cut. That makes me feel safe.

We also filed a lawsuit against the hospital that messed up everything with DW, causing the open heart surgery, cutting the wrong vein and not fixing it, etc. The biggest reason is that they keep sending us a bill for $10,000 and our insurance won't pay it, because it was the hospitals mistake that caused the surgery that resulted in the bill. Neither will we. And they won't agree to eat the money. The bill is for the open heart surgery which is a direct result of their mistake. I'm not after any money on it, just to make the bills go away and the collections be taken off our credit report. The lawyer filed suit for $250,000 plus all medical expenses, past and future, relating to the claim. The statutory cap in Kansas on all medical malpractice suites is $250,000. The lawyer said she has to file in that amount just to be able to meet her costs on a contigency basis. If we win the $250K, she gets 33% of it, which is $82,500. She said it costs her between $80K and $100K to do a case like this. Completely stupid that it costs the lawyer ten times the amount we're trying to avoid paying. I don't care as long as we don't have to pay for the hospitals mistake. It's a matter of principle to me.

It's been a bad year financially because of all the stuff with DW. As much as the army pays, we still have a lot of out of pocket stuff. At one point we had an $8,000 cushion. Right now, it's about $1,600. Slowly building it back up. Should have around a $500 tax return between me and DW. The army will give us mileage of $376 when I go to Mayo in a couple weeks, and it only costs $80 in gas. That will help out.

We're putting away $835 a month into a money market as an ACH payment trying to get the EF back. DW's disability is $441, which account for half of it. We also put $200 a month into a Roth, which isn't much, but better than nothing. If I do re-up, my bonus will be $16,000. We could put that in the EF and then pay the $835 a month into the Roth, and switch the Roth's meager $200 a month to the EF. Slowly build the savings, while quickly working on retirement. If we do win the lawsuit and get all we ask for, it would pay off the mortgage and leave at least $25,000 extra. That's not the goal by any means, but if it happens, I'm not going to balk. The lawsuit takes 2 years on average, so we're by no means counting our eggs. Heck, we may end up in court on collections with the hospital before our lawsuit is done. Wouldn't that be our luck.

But it's been a blessed year all in all. DW made it through the worst of it. This time next year she will be back to work fully recovered if everything goes well. That's the plan my friends. 8 or 9 more months of this kidney trouble, then I'll be back to work, and DW will be back in about 10 months if all goes to plan.

I'll most likely end up re-enlisting simply for the fact that I can retire when I'm 38 and never have to work again in my life if I don't want to. Kinda got the gleam in my eye to retire on $60,000 a year and not owing one red cent to anyone and having health care paid for for life. DW and I could do anything we wanted to. Hard to knock.

5 Responses to “After a long absence... ”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    I was just thinking about you the other day. It's good to know your wife is doing well. Good luck making your work decisions. Isn't the government moving some of the Cuba prisoner's to a prison in Illinois? I don't know if that is a done deal or not...maybe there will be another option.

    Best wishes with everything!

  2. ceejay74 Says:

    So glad to hear about your wife, and your attitude regarding all the money issues is awesome. Happy New Year--you have a lot of good to look forward to in 2010, I bet!

  3. gamecock43 Says:

    Welcome back. I was wondering how you and the family were doing. It sounds like you are still on a long road to stability but you have options to access. Keep up the good attitude- I am glad the military is helping you through this.

  4. CB in the City Says:

    I was not on board when you shared your story before, but I just wanted to tell you I am so impressed by your devotion to your wife. I hope that all goes well for you both.

  5. Jerry Says:

    Glad to know that you are hanging in there, and I hope that 2010 leads to some good news for you. Whatever you decide to do professionally, you are obviously going to do well. My sister is an attorney and there are good jobs to be had out there that do not necessarily require the sacrifice of family. It is a lot of work, but it is also insurance for a successful future. Good luck, either way! At least, you can let the military pay for the first degree. =)
    Jerry

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