It’s been exactly two weeks since I went to the hospital with half a dozen heart attack symptoms, including chest pains, difficulty breathing, and sudden lightheadedness.
The good news is that I was able to walk away that day after an EKG and other tests showed nothing life threatening brought on those symptoms.
But the bad news is that, while the symptoms have softened, they have never gone away. Even today, after more tests and more doctors including two specialists, I can’t go more than an hour or two without having to lie down.
The costs and the silver lining
Each of these visits has cost hundreds of dollars, and I’ll be looking at hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars of tests by the time I’m fully diagnosed. And in some sense, that’ll just be the start; I’ll still have to pay the cost of my treatment.
There are also some tangential costs. I ate out as a treat the day I found out I wasn’t having a heart attack, which feels reasonable. But there are also surprise meals out like the snack at the hospital when my appointment was delayed or eating lunch at a restaurant because an appointment has taken me across town. And my limited mobility has meant choosing to take a car service like Uber or Lyft more often than I normally do to get to those appointments without exacerbating my symptoms.
So with all this, what could possibly be the silver lining?
- That I’m still above ground
- That I haven’t had to worry too much about money thanks to my emergency fund
The importance of my emergency fund
If there is any situation where it makes sense to tap my emergency fund, this is it.
I can’t imagine how much worse it would feel to have to think about not being able to pay medical bills — or even worse, having to decide whether or not to see a doctor for a potentially life threatening episode based on how much money I had.
The last couple weeks have been both scary and stressful, but because of my emergency fund — as well as my health insurance, disability coverage, and flexible employer — none of that scariness or stress has had to do with money.
Thank you to everyone who’s ever nudged or guilted me into the hard, sometimes annoying work of making sure I had a few thousand put away for a rainy day. I would similarly urge all of you to work toward an emergency fund if you’re able.
To summarize: Emergencies happen, it’s important to take symptoms seriously, having an emergency fund is an awesome way to take a little stress out of an otherwise terrible situation.