Archive for the 'Loss of income' Category

Linda the ho-bot

February 23, 2011

Andrew Hicks

In the interest of continuity (for those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile), I should mention it’s been almost six months since The Event, and I’m still not back to work. Oh, I’m working around the house — dishes, cooking, vacuuming, laundry and multitasking the double-baby situation — but none of that draws a paycheck or cash tips. I won’t get to exploit all this family work until I’m close to death and need one of these lucky kids to change my bedpan or something.

So it’s about time to go back to waiting on people (unless YOU — yes, YOU — want to pay me to write stuff), since the injured ankle is almost healed. My movement is still restricted, I still have pain at the end of the day, and I never should’ve walked in the snow earlier this month. Also, if you break your ankle in September, and in February, your 2 year old begs you to get on the trampoline and jump with her, don’t do it. You will look foolish, you will ache, and you will regret it. But I’m feeling good, I’m writing, and I’m still not drinking.

I do owe some people some money, though. Can’t lie about that. I get all kinds of robocalls I don’t answer every day. Most don’t leave a message. Some leave an automessage that is joined in progress once my voicemail starts recording. And then, there’s Linda. Linda is a collectorbot who calls and leaves the same 12-second voice message a half-dozen times a day. Crazy thing is, every time I get a Linda message, it originates from a different area code. You know that Ludacris song about having hoes in different area codes? Well, for one ho, Linda is in 124 area codes and counting. That’s impressive, Linda. But annoying.

My birthday’s this Sunday, and already I’ve gotten a card from my mom with a very generous check in it. This proves once again that the most thoughtful gift anyone can give is a lump sum of cash. Made my day. Not a word of this to Linda, anybody.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

This caption has yet to be written.

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Family welfare

December 3, 2010

Andrew Hicks

At the time of The Event, I had health insurance for my entire nuclear family through my job as restaurant server, bartender and hourly manager. All I had to average was 25 hours a week, and they took a nice fat chunk out of each check. It was my first time being health-insured since just after my college graduation, and the Hicks clan quickly racked up a few high-ticket items. There were two live births, Sarah’s hospitalization for RSV* and the bizarre incision and drainage of an abscessed cyst in my right armpit. Which, if you like grossness, is a pretty interesting story for another time.

Then came the compound ankle fracture. Ambulance, emergency room, surgery, hospitalization and physical therapy with a lady who told me I’d be out of work “for at least a week, maybe even two.” I’m closing in on three months missing work, and the simple fact is, when you don’t work, you don’t automatically get your health insurance money withheld from your check. You also aren’t making the money you usually make at work. Money got scarce fast, we racked up a balance with the insurance company and got dropped halfway through last month.

Now, remember, I work an hourly job with a bunch of restaurant folks. Some of them are kids who live at home and may or may not roll out of bed by 2 pm; others are my age and have multiple kids. The whole way through, there were people telling me I could get free health insurance through the state if I qualified on an income-based level. I consider my lifestyle to be lower-middle class, and I figured if we did qualify for state medical cards, it would be just barely. And I also figured, I had earned the right to have health insurance as a benefit, so I might as well get it and pay for it. Responsible, right? Maybe even noble?

The nobility, real or imagined, fades a bit after you can’t work, and your existing bills – which you were not quite in full control of even before the accident – start backing up while brand-new accident-related bills start pouring in. Long story short, just before becoming uninsured, Tiffany and I applied for public aid. We got a notice almost immediately that the babies were covered, which brought peace of mind. Then, probably a week later, the rest of the results came back. Insurance for the whole family, free of charge. With all the media-bitching about Obamacare rules and regulations, this seems like some good old-fashioned welfare that FDR could cozy up to. Or wheel up to. Whichever.

Also, now there’s state-provided grocery money on a debit card each month. Gone, at least temporarily, are the days when I’d drop into the supermarket for a couple quick items, figure out by the crowds that it was the first of the month, get stuck in the checkout behind the family with the two full carts of stock-up goods, and then send out texts like, “Where’s the aisle for people who are buying items with cash they earned themselves?” to everyone I could think of while I was waiting to buy my white wine, bread and milk.

I’m still not yet earning money working, post-accident, but the money we’re saving now on health insurance, groceries and babysitting bills (you’re reading the words of a modern-day Mr. Mom) amounts to more than two grand per month. And you know, if you’d talked to me just before I popped out my ankle, I would have told you $250 a week for childcare for two children was a ripoff. Now that I’ve been home alone with Sarah and Silas for more than a month, it seems like an absolute bargain.

*I’d never heard of RSV, but it’s a pretty widespread respiratory virus among the very young. Sarah wasn’t even 2 months when she got it, most likely from a baby at the daycare she’d just started going to. It just seemed like she had a cold at first, but the virus took a quick progression on her infant body. One Sunday afternoon, when I left for work, Sarah was short of breath, and Tiffany and I made plans to take her to the urgent care first thing in the morning. Midway through my shift at work, I got a call from Tiffany, from the emergency room. Sarah had turned blue. Tiffany had called 911. Paramedics had come to the house and taken my 13-pound baby out on a stretcher**. Baby Sarah was in a room in the ICU for three days, hooked up to monitors and a baby IV. The first night, when the nurses wouldn’t let us feed her, was the hardest, but Sarah responded to treatment immediately and got better. Aside from a few chronic earaches in her early months, Sarah’s been a really healthy baby.

**Which, when you think about the heavy-lifting side of it, has to be a jackpot situation for paramedics. They don’t know whether they’re going to show up to hoist a 600-pound dude who just suffered a McRib-induced coronary blowout or a tiny, blue-faced infant. Morbid as it is, the sight of the blue baby has to at least be a physical relief as far as back pain goes. Kind of like when you’re helping a friend move, and the other guys always end up having to grab something heavy on the Next To Go list, while on your turn, the closest thing to grab is the box of pillows. Then again, my eyeballs probably zero in on the box of pillows and the box of paper towels and the box of toilet paper. I’m an out-of-work welfare recipient, after all.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Baby Sarah in the days she could be contained in a colorful bouncer.

I get the boot

October 8, 2010

Andrew Hicks

I went to the orthopedic doctor yesterday morning. The good news is, I don’t have to wear a leg cast anymore. I will no longer be the target of lusty leers from gorgeous women and creepy old men suffering from abasiophilia – a disease that, with your financial help, could be cured in our lifetime.

It was an epic moment. I was sitting on the exam table when the nurse wheeled in what looked like a ShopVac with a pizza cutter-sized buzzsaw blade at the end of its hose attachment. I flashed back to being nine and having my leg cast cut off with one of those pizza-cutter blades and getting my skin all chewed up. The cast removal this time made me feel more ticklish than in pain, almost jump-out-of-skin ticklish on the bottom of my foot.

Then the nurse wheeled the equipment out of the room and left me alone with my formerly encased leg. At the time, I thought I was about to be X-rayed and recasted. That’s what they’d told me during the last visit – that, as my fracture and incisions healed, the swelling would go down and they’d fit me for a smaller, sleeker cast. Aerodynamic, even, to counter all the wind velocity generated by my half-mile-per-hour top crutch speed.

Pizza-cutter buzz saw

The way I saw it, I had about a minute and a half to scratch every square inch of the skin that had been itching for the past 27 days. I was dainty about it at first. Rubbed my calf, just kind of brushed the top of my foot with my fingernails. And it felt so good. It felt amazing. This must be the kind of pleasure an abasiophiliac experiences when he or she fondles the cast of a consenting partner.

I have nice long fingernails right now, too. My exiled recovery has left me kind of like eccentric, late-period Howard Hughes minus the money. I’ve peed in the jug and let my beard and fingernails grow wild and free. I was grateful for the talons I’d cultivated as I dug in with some full-on leg and foot scratching. Anyone seen the “Seinfeld” where Kramer ends up dating the coffee shop waitress because she has elongated nails and he has a previously unscratchable itch? Same thing. My fingernails and my newly exposed cast leg were a match made in heaven. Howard Hughes meets “Seinfeld” meets Andrew the Uniplegic.

Das boot

Turned out there was no need to blow my leg-scratch wad. Now I can access my lower left extremities whenever I want. The cast has been replaced by a large, streamlined plastic boot with lots of Velcro straps and a Nike Air-style inflate/deflate pump. It’s bulkier than the cast, not as supportive, less comfortable and a lot hotter, but guess what? I can take a shower again. But I don’t want to come back to the personal hygiene fold with just an ordinary shower. Preparations are underway for the bathing event of the century. I will alert the media, you can rest assured. Any day now.

I didn’t have to pay for the boot, either. My father-in-law had one stored away from his own brief foray into one-legged euphoria last year. He’s got all kinds of stuff hidden around the house that can be produced on a moment’s notice. Yesterday, he remembered he had a two-way intercom system in his basement. Which is a much classier way for us to communicate than me just shouting, “Bring me a sandwich!” up the stairs. We tried setting up the intercom units for about half an hour and were unsuccessful. By the end of it, I had really worked up the appetite for a sandwich. And I let him know, by way of shouting.

Oh yeah, the bad news – I can’t go back to work for six more weeks. Definitely longer than I was counting on. If not for the providence of our families, this Thanksgiving would be sugar water and mayonnaise sandwiches for sure. I need to find someone who will pay me to write, or maybe I can crutch my way into an interview for a desk job and get myself hired by invoking the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. (There is a clause in there covering dumbasses who fall down stairs in the middle of the night, isn’t there?)

Meantime, I have no money coming in. Time to sell the old plasma. Not a plasma TV, my actual plasma. Any readers care to make an offer on a three-ounce vial of Andrew plasma? Act now, and I’ll toss in some platelets. I promise not to gouge you; I’ll be busy gouging myself for plasma and platelet cash.

Possibly my most hilarious Facebook friend, a lady named Jennifer Misiurewicz, wants me to mention her in this blog post. And I don’t mind, because I really didn’t feel like writing until I got my joke-word skills warmed up trading status comments with J.Miz. That banter led straight to this entry, so I’d like to reprint the comments, a reaction to my announcement that I’d be selling my plasma…

ANDREW HICKS: Found out I still can’t go back to work for 6 weeks. Time to sell the old plasma. Not my plasma TV, my actual plasma.

S____ F__ and R______ R_______ like this.

J.MIZ: or sperm. its liquid gold mr luck charms

ANDREW: R______ you would like the fact that I’m going to be homeless by this time next month.

R______: i don’t like it i like that you thought of the idea to sell your plasma

J.MIZ: he is inventive that one…..but most degenerates are

ANDREW: R______, let’s eliminate the middle-man. Do you want to make an offer on 6 ounces of my warm plasma? I’ll throw in some platelets.

J.MIZ: ill take gamma globulin for 400 alex

J.MIZ: mmmmmmm warm plasma…..can i get in on this bidding war??? im planning on a hep b winter

ANDREW: I was gonna be Gamma Globulin for Halloween, but now I just have to be disabled.

J.MIZ: NO!!!! the beauty is that gamma globulin cannot stand alone….its a “helper monkey” if u will

ANDREW: Ah, if only Weird Al would parody “White Christmas” and make the opening line, “I’m planning on a Hep B winter.” I would love that.

J.MIZ: why did my brain just start chanting: TWO LEGS ENTER ONE LEG LEAVES??????

J.MIZ: immmmmmmmmm planning on a hep b winter….just like the shots i used to know. where youre shot with virus and miley cyrus

J.MIZ: LADIES AND GENTLEMEN…….AMY WINEHOUSE

R______ hahaha….

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Sarah's intense juice face at the state fairgrounds

Compound fracture complications

September 14, 2010

About 4 years ago, my mom was in the hospital for a week. For one reason or another, I kept missing chances to visit her. People at work were giving me a hard time about it, like I didn’t love my mom because I hadn’t been keeping a nonstop somber vigil by her side on an uncomfortable piece of hospital furniture.

My mom, on the other hand, sounded like she was having the time of her life every time I called to apologize for not making it up there. “I’m good,” she would insist. “They’ve got me on the right mix of drugs, I’m being waited on hand and foot, I’m catching up on my reading, all my responsibilities have ceased to exist, and the food’s actually pretty good.”

I understand now what she meant. I was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital early Sunday morning with a compound fracture. My bloody ankle bone was protruding through my skin, and my left foot just kind of hung there limply. It was a very ugly sight. I was in shocked disbelief.

One second, my wife Tiffany, good buddy James and I were hanging around on the back porch of my in-laws’ house. Then little Sarah woke up, and we let her come outside with us. She decided to climb up some stairs, I went up after her, scooped her up, turned to descend the stairs and suffered a nasty fall. I’d held Sarah up out of harm’s way but obviously did nothing to protect my poor ankle, which saw the light of day for the next few hours.

I was sprawled out on the concrete. Couldn’t move. Paramedics arrived shortly after. Got me into the ambulance. Kinda acted like dicks. Granted, the whole purpose of the evening had been to come into town and have drinks with old friends, but I felt like I was still coherent. These guys were treating me like I was incapable of deciphering their plainspoken English.

We arrived at the hospital and were sequestered in a side room – me, Tiffany, James and Tiffany’s dad. I was told I’d have to be operated on. I couldn’t quite grasp that this was actually happening. A compound fracture? An ambulance ride? Anesthesia? Surgery? Couldn’t I just go home, go to bed and sleep all this off? The answer – absolutely not.

Woke up the following afternoon in a hospital bed with a cast on. My wife’s smiling face came into view. I really love that woman. We went over the hypotheticals of, “It’s my fault, because if I hadn’t done THAT one little thing, THIS would never have happened,” and, “No, it’s MY fault, because if I wouldn’t have done THIS little thing, THAT would never have happened.” The only conclusion to arrive at, though – it happened, and the consequences can’t be ignored.

The most pressing question – who’s going to take care of babies Sarah and Silas? The physical therapy people at the hosital have me hobbling around on a walker right now. My ankle can technically bear weight, but my nerve endings scream like bloody murder when it does. I’m not mobile enough to keep up with a 2 year old. My mom and Tiffany’s dad are going to come up to Springfield and help out alternatingly in the meantime, and it looks like the babies and I will be spending next week’s work days in St. Louis with the grandparents.

Second – how long will I be out of work? Hourly restaurant employment is not known for its stellar disability coverage, and my health insurance is predicated on me averaging at least 25 hours per week. Serving and bartending are very mobile jobs, and we were already broke before this little plot twist.

The “blessing in disguise” part might be that, with me home from work and undistracted with unnecessary things like, say, walking, I’ll be able to really focus on properly launching and maintaining this blog and better organizing material for my standup act. Funny Bone Springfield wants me to open 3 shows this weekend. I’m trying to decide if I’d get more laughs performing from a wheelchair or a walker.

Meantime, I’ve decided worry can’t help the situation or change reality. I’m grateful that I’ll be able to recover from this injury, and that coming out the other end of the ordeal, I’ll still have everything I had going in. And my mom was right – hospital drugs are really quite nice.