I wrote this post, comparing having a chronic medical condition to my efforts to live frugally, on July 3, 2008.
I have fibromyalgia; I was diagnosed when I was 20. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder and, without going into too much detail, I can describe my experience of it as fits and spurts of pain. I can go long periods of time without having an episode, but when the episodes kick in they can last for weeks or months.
I’m not complaining. I seem to have a mild-garden variety version of fibromyalgia, which is itself a mild-garden variety condition compared to the many worse illnesses one could be afflicted with. I only mention it because it seems to me that having any long-term chronic illness can be compared to living on the edge financially.
My experience of fibromyalgia has been, up until now, like this: I go months where I feel normal and I manage to put it out of my mind. Then one day, boom!, I wake up and my legs ache, or my back hurts, or my eyes are cloudy. At the moment it’s the thumb on my left hand. I don’t know how long this situation is going to last. I can take some prophylactic measures, such as ibuprofen, but that only gives me the impression I’m managing the situation. It doesn’t really help.
My experience of living on the edge financially has been, up until now, like this: I go months where I feel normal and I manage to put it out of my mind. Then one day, boom!, I wake up and get a larger than expected bill from the student loan folks, or the car window breaks, or the kids need to go to the doctor. At the moment it’s trying to figure out how to pay for a new bike for my son: â‚¬80. I don’t know how long this situation is going to last. I can take some prophylactic measures, such as selling things on Ebay, but that only gives me the impression I’m managing the situation. It doesn’t really help.
The things that really do make an impact, both immediately and over the long term are life-style changes. It’s logical; if I can’t carry on ‘as-is’ then something has got to give. So I start drinking more water, checking my bank account online every morning, eating more balanced meals, creating a budget, eating at the same time every day, sticking to the afore-mentioned budget, getting light exercise or setting my goals in writing. Help helps as well. It’s hard to go it alone! Whether it be in real-life or online, a support community can be invaluable; that is one of the reasons I started writing Almost Frugal.
Having a chronic condition is not the end of the world, whether it’s medical or living on the edge financially. Some people are more affected than others, true, and we are the only ones who can truly judge to what degree that is. We are also the only ones, however, who can take that crucial first step towards managing that condition, with the goal of living healthy, wealthy lives- in every sense of the term.