Don’t wait until you are paralysed to look after your health!
GUEST POST BY KYLIE TRAVERS
Have you ever been sick or injured with something that stops you living life? Last year, right after I turned 30, I was paralysed in May and for the next 9 months struggled to walk or take care of myself or my young daughters. In the middle of treatment and tests for my spine, another test showed I might have the cancer my mother died from. It was so sudden and unexpected. I was referred to a specialist and 4 days after I saw him I was being operated on.
When something like that happens it certainly makes you stop and think about your health. What happened to me likely could have been prevented. Since I didn’t take care of my health, I had to learn to adapt quickly and find ways to reduce my expenses while still providing for my family.
How could I have prevented it?
I completely neglected myself. I focused too much on my company and all the charity work I was doing. I let myself get stressed out, run down and eventually, my body gave up. Instead of listening to the warning signals my body was giving off, I kept pushing through until one morning I couldn’t move. My body had had it.
If I attempted to walk, I would black out. My body could not handle the pain. I couldn’t do anything without assistance. I ended up in hospital and it took months, plus a lot of treatment to recover.
The cancer scare was not preventable though. Thankfully, after they operated on me and tested the polyps, it turned out not to be cancer. That was a relief. The time between when they suspected and when I was clear was agony. I never felt I would die. I was in shock though. It turns out I have is a rare condition that has had very little research into it. There is no definite cause, treatment or cure. It is something women get to live with if they have it. Lucky me!
Had I exercised regularly, taken time for myself, slept properly and taken the time to switch off and recharge when I felt my body aching, I probably would not have spent months in bed last year.
How did I manage it?
The moment I realised I was paralysed wasn’t the most terrifying. I have had back injuries before and though this would be ok in a few days. It was when I was told I wouldn’t be and this was a long term thing that I kicked myself for not taking care of my health. On top of being in constant pain, I had two children to take care of, a business to run, charity work I was scheduled for the income for the household depended on me.
1.) Look at treatment options
I spoke with doctors at the hospital, along with my GP and naturopath as well as going to physiotherapy, a chiropractor and Bowen therapy. Each helped a little, but none completely fixed the problem. It appeared surgery was my only option.
When your health goes, you need to check every avenue possible to get the best treatment plan for you. I started with a GP who didn’t specialise in my sort of injury, then after a few months she was off sick for some time and I was transferred to another doctor she recommended. He was brilliant, had so many other suggestions, expertise and advice. You can check your options and don’t be afraid to do research. We had a few hiccups with my treatment plans and by knowing what was going on, the reactions I had to some medication and other options available we were able to have much better discussions with my healthcare providers.
2.) Get friendly with your health insurance
I have never been so grateful to have health insurance as I was last year. I compare my health insurance regularly to make sure I am getting the best package for my daughters and I (you can do this with Compare The Market
). I have gotten the best deal every year from the same insurer so have been with them since 2012.
Not only was I seen immediately for everything instead of waiting 9 – 12 months (all my healthcare providers were relieved I had health insurance. The wait lists are long!), but for extra treatment like physiotherapy I got some of the money back.
After around 4 months of issues, 2 surgeries and me being out of work, our finances were depleted. I rang my insurance company who had paid thousands out for my treatment, explained my situation and asked them if there were any options. I didn’t want to lose my health insurance, however because of my health, I was not going to be able to afford it.
They looked up my file and gave me 6weeks free. I was told to call at the end of the 6 weeks if I still needed assistance and they could see what they could do. It was put into effect immediately and because of the timeframe of when I pay, it meant I had 8 weeks relief from my payments.
It is worth it to know what you are covered for, that you are getting the best deal and talking to them when needed.
3.) Redo the budget
Because of the situation I was in, I had to rejig the budget a few times to cover my medical expenses. Compare The Market did a survey recently and it showed how much people are sacrificing to be able to afford health insurance and put their health first.
In my situation, I looked at everywhere I could cutback, and looking at the survey results, I was not alone. No more eating out, takeaway, gifts were reduced, as was travel and groceries. Anything that was not completely, 100% essential had to go.
I also sold off everything I could and took on any work I could do from home such as writing, ads on my blogs etc.
4.) Ask for help
How often do you ask for help when you need it? Most women don’t. We push through. We make do and we take the weight of the world on our shoulders. This helps no one. I had to get to breaking point before I reached out and said I needed help. Once I did though, the offers came pouring in. I sent an email to my immediate family members and between them they arranged to take my kids to and from school a few days a week, cooked meals, cleaned the house once a week and other things I needed.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When you ask, be specific about what people can do and let them do it!
Have you ever experienced major health issues? How did you deal with it? Do you have health insurance? Why or why not?
About Kylie Travers: