. . . The Waiting . . .

. . . The Waiting . . . (Photo credit: sharkbait)

Why do you need spare cash to cover emergencies? Won’t the government take care of you? Aren’t there others watching out for you?

Well, not always. Today, just like at every point in history, the person most motivated to care about you is yourself, and sometimes, a bit of spare cash can make a world of difference!

SOMETIMES, THINGS HAPPEN

A few days ago (weeks ago as you read this), my girlfriend was going through an unpleasant illness. She felt very dizzy, with extreme vertigo at times, and sometimes felt nauseous, too. She didn’t have her normal appetite and she had lost a few pounds. This had been going on for a few days, so I was starting to get really worried. When you come home day after day and see your girlfriend in bed, feeling listless, or losing her balance, it is very scary!

We had already been to our family doctor and we had done a MRI, waiting for the results, but her symptoms were getting worse. We then called the nurse hotline and after some questions, she mentioned that it sounded like it was a sugar problem, and if it got worse, to visit the emergency. We ended up visiting the emergency that night, but after the initial checkup the nurse there said that her vitals were OK, so we decided to go home instead of staying at the emergency overnight. We had a blood test appointment scheduled for the next morning, so we did that and then we were waiting for those results as well.

Unfortunately, the symptoms started to get worse, and just a few days later my girlfriend was pale as a ghost, listless, with no appetite at all and stuck in bed. We were still waiting for the MRI and blood test results, but I was scared and there was no way that I could wait any longer.

We ended up going back to the emergency, and this time, we stayed there the entire night, until 6:30 in the morning. The Canadian medical system is notorious for extremely long waiting times, unless you’re bleeding to death, so after nearly 12 hours in the emergency room, we were still waiting. By this point, she had decided for herself that enough was enough. According to her vitals, my girlfriend was not dying, but all that waiting was making her worse instead of improving her condition.

We ended up going to a private clinic, where we were able to see a private doctor after a very short wait. The doctor took good care of my girlfriend, giving her a full checkup, asking her many different questions, and doing different diagnostics. After a couple of hours and a few hundred bucks later, the diagnosis was that she had labyrinthitis.

We then visited our family doctor for the MRI and blood test results, and I was amazed that there was nobody else in the office! We are lucky to even have a family doctor, because for many people in Canada, the emergency room and overstuffed clinics are all you get, but usually even with our family doctor there is a long wait, and he is pushy since he wants to see as many patients as possible. This time, we were lucky to be the only ones there, so he could give us his full attention. His response the last time was “Girl, I just don’t know what you have!”, but as the blood test and MRI came out clean, he agreed that it was probably labyrinthitis.

What is labyrinthitis? It is an inflammation of the inner ears that can be caused by a virus, or even by stress, and one of the main side effects is extreme vertigo, and in the more severe cases it can cause permanent damage. Usually, however, it goes away in two weeks, and the symptoms disappear after that time.

He recommended that she take the rest of the week off to rest from work, and her health started to improve since then. I think a big part of the improvement was simply ruling out the worst scenarios and knowing with a reasonable guess just what was causing the symptoms, so that we could both relax a bit instead of stressing out over the worst.

MONEY IS FREEDOM

I don’t want to open a debate between public and private healthcare in this post, but we are very fortunate that we even have the option to choose. It wasn’t so long ago in the past that private care was considered to be illegal here. What if the emergency room was our only alternative? Our family doctor didn’t have the motivation or time to really look into my girlfriend’s illness, so he just told us “girl, I don’t know what you have!” and from our previous experiences with emergency doctors, we would not have fared any better there. When the emergency room is overstuffed with people, and some of them are actually dying, the emergency doctors look down on you and resent you for having “wasted their time”.

Thankfully, we have money set aside in the bank for circumstances like this, and we were lucky enough that we could afford spending the few hundred dollars to get care at the private clinic. We already spend thousands of dollars a year on public health care, but when it comes to taking care of yourself, you cannot depend on a monopoly to do it for you, whether public or private. Had we not saved up money in the past, we would have been at the mercy of the public system, with no alternatives.

I can’t think of a better reason for having spare cash for emergencies than this: Taking care of your loved ones, and keeping them healthy and safe.

Dear reader, when did having some spare cash on the side make a big difference in your life? I would love to hear your stories.

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About

Kevin has left the office, and he is currently fighting the rat race by working on his own business. He enjoys exploring unvisited places around the world and gaining new experiences. He believes that by properly managing our energy and time, we can learn to invest our lives wisely.

25 Comments Kevin on Feb 29th 2012

25 Responses to “Why You Need Spare Cash to Cover Emergencies”

  1. B says:

    Hi Kevin

    I’ve been saving up on emergency funds as well though I have not used any of it thus far (and hopefully not because it aint a good thing). But i think it is one important aspect that everyone must prepare. You have to be prepared before the war battle begins. That’s why countries are training armies :)

    B

  2. Geoff says:

    Here in the UK we are very fortunate to have the National Health System in place. It has its critics (and it really is a massive part of our economy), mainly due to the amount it needs to be funded. Health care isn’t cheap, true, but I’d never want to get into the situation of having to pay for medical treatment, whether emergency, or elective. No one should be put off seeking medical treatment because they can’t afford to do so.

    • Kevin says:

      A fellow blogger friend has said good things about the NHS. I personally believe that there should be choice in medicine, and the patient should have a stake so that the means of profit & loss can take effect. It is horrible when a doctor runs his office like a factory mill, because patient and doctor are completely disconnected and he gets paid more from the government the quicker he goes. It’s then not the patient’s subjective values that matter — it’s the bureaucrats and their goals!

      The same bad effects can occur if the insurance companies are allowed to run everything. I don’t know how we can move toward free choice in medicine, but it’s not by building moats around the whole thing.

  3. We can have some long emergency wait times here in the US too….everyone without medical insurance goes to the emergency room for everything.

    I certainly hope Obama care doesn’t lead to making it illegal to seek private medical care here. I think that would take away my right to the pursuit of happiness – which were laid out in our Declaration of Independence as “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”

    Hope everyone is ok now. I had some kind of milder inner ear thing going a few weeks back – got dizzy just sitting on the couch.

    • Kevin says:

      I had it coming and going myself. What a strange season! I hope you are getting better. My girlfriend had a relapse a few days ago so we are going to go get a ear test done. Health is really the most important asset we have, along with family and love.

      I’m not an expert on the US medical system, but the legal and regulatory environment s it is just builds a big moat around doctors and insurance companies and allows them to charge unreasonable rates, no? The solution isn’t letting the government run a monopoly as that can be even worse. Only true, open competition will drive down costs and increase services.

  4. Amy says:

    Sorry to hear of your girlfriend’s illness. I too was initially diagnosed with a viral labyrinthitis 4 years ago. I had bloodwork and MRI’s and everything was normal. My continued dizziness baffled my family doctor. I’ve seen 4 specialists, some I have had to wait 18 months for!! (I’m in Canada). I still suffer from my symptoms 4 years later now and all doctors can tell me is that I have a vestibulopathy (dysfunction of my inner ear). The healthcare system is definitely frustrating, waiting weeks for tests and months for specialists. It’s frustrating when you feel sick to begin with and then have to wait and wait!! I can empathize with your girlfriend and hope her symptoms resolve. I now how miserable dizziness and vertigo is!!

    • Kevin says:

      18 months! My god… my girlfriend has waited months to see some specialists, too, as unfortunately we have to go through the private system for that. I guess it’s fine for the politicians since they can always fly to the states and pay top dollar for surgeries, right? The rest of us commoners have to suffer with the system that they have built…

      More competition is needed, and we need more doctors! Why spend 8 years in school to become a family doctor and not care about what you do? I say open the floodgates, because it’s not as if the current system is weeding out the bad ones anyways.

  5. Geoff says:

    I could never understand the opposition to the Healthcare Bill in the US. I must be missing something, but how can it be so wrong to want to enable a greater number of Americans to access healthcare? It shouldn’t be a case of those with the ability to pay can get medical treatment, it should be there for the most vulnerable in society too.

    • Kevin says:

      I guess the question is who really benefits from the bill? Americans who cannot pay, or doctors and companies that get to siphon money from taxpayers. I don’t think that insurance companies should be allowed to run the show, either — only an open market will lower costs and increase services. There are other ways of addressing the problem of those who cannot afford; heck, if you remove all the bureaucracy and regulations you could take care of everyone who could not take care of themselves through no fault of their own, at much lower tax rates than today. It might not be a libertarian utopia but it would certainly be much more acceptable.

  6. I’m glad your girlfriend is feeling a lot better Kevin. That kind of thing can be scary. Coincidentally, I’ve been experiencing strange light-headedness since the beginning of December. You’ve just given me something to look into! Thanks!

    As for the money question, I have used it to get out of fixes while traveling–things that would have been tougher to resolve without money. No, I’m not referring to paying off troublesome people. I’m referring to taking easier (and more expensive) transportation when a certain bus isn’t going to show up for the next two days, or when a train fails to show up–putting me at risk of losing a flight. Now I’m off to research that dizziness of mine.

    • Kevin says:

      I’ve felt it myself on and off these past few days, and unfortunately she had a relapse at the same time but I hope she gets better soon. We’re going to do a follow-up ear test next week to see. This has been such a strange winter! Hope your dizziness ends up being nothing serious!

      The transportation is a good example, too — ended up paying a tuk tuk driver in Cambodia extra to get to the airport, though he “ripped us off” in his own currency. ;)

  7. Wow, I’ve never even heard of labyrinthitis. I hope that your girlfriend makes a full recovery with no more relapses soon. I have had dizziness a few times that lasted a few hours after chiropractor visits, and it is so uncomfortable! I can’t imagine being sick like that for weeks.

    My husband and I have spent the last two years filling up a savings account for emergencies. Now that we have it, thankfully we haven’t needed it. Before though, it seemed like we were constantly needing quick cash for emergencies.

    We go a step further than just having savings in the bank. We also keep $1000 in cash at the house, you just never know when you are going to need liquid money. And we also keep emergency food and water for hurricane season. We don’t live on the coast, but we have had our power go out for over two weeks because of serious hurricanes. The stores quickly run out of food and water, and then you are sunk.

    Being prepared gives me a lot of peace of mind!

    Ashley

    • Kevin says:

      Ouch, I seem to have lost my last reply! Thanks for the warm wishes and thoughts, and cash at home as a great idea as long as it’s not so much to make you lose sleep at night.

      She is feeling a bit better since a full day of ski on the weekend, so hopefully also with spring coming and more activity outdoors, she will feel better with that, too.

  8. Shilpan says:

    I’m glad that your savings made a big difference. Now, this makes me wonder about the healthcare debate here in the States. America still has the best healthcare system in the world. From your experience, it seems that Americans may face similar dilemma soon once government care takes over.

    • Kevin says:

      I don’t agree with monopolization of the healthcare system whether by a private entity or public. Either way, the patients suffer. Surely there’s a more balanced approach that also creates incentives to improve patient care, and makes it easier for qualified personnel to become doctors. Eight to ten years of study and practice to become a family doctor that says “Damn, I dunno”? Comeon! :)

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  11. Sorry to hear this. I hope your girlfriend is doing better. You are absolutely right. This is just one of the many reasons living paycheck to paycheck is a bad idea. Some people may think a safety net is not important for things like car or home repairs, but what about when it comes to your health. Everyone could use that little extra cushion of cash.

    • Kevin says:

      Definitely when it comes to our health. Probably the biggest thing we take for granted, until it escapes us for one reason or another.

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