As I begin budgeting for 2013, let’s look at just how much it has cost to keep Lilly alive following the onset of vaccine-induced meningoencephalomyelitis (inflammation of the brain, lining of the brain, and spinal cord).
To recap … My perfectly healthy, brilliant, strong border collie girl received a rabies vaccine January 23, 2012, and she hasn’t been the same since. It hasn’t been cheap trying to save her. Before her massive relapse in August 2012 (after our 4th attempt to wean her off steroids), Lilly’s prognosis was good. Afterwards, her true prognosis became unknown. We just don’t know how this is going to turn out or how long it may go on.
Soon, I’ll update the 5-part adverse vaccine reaction FAQ we posted last year, when I believed everything was going to be OK, but I thought you’d like to see the total costs (so far) of this medical emergency.
The TRUTH is this … I never expected to run up such a bill. $5,000 or even $8,000? Sure, but more than $17,000?
I’ll be honest. It sort of snuck up on me.
Please keep in mind that I am NOT a wealthy person.
While I did have a good year in 2012 work-wise, I don’t make scads of money. Being a self-employed / freelance writer isn’t easy ~ buying health insurance on the open market, no paid vacations or sick days, no fringe benefits on another’s dime, publishers waiting months (if ever) to pay me.
There have been years when I didn’t make much more than what Lilly’s veterinary care has cost.
And, I’m not anti-taxes, but let me say that I do lose 30-40% of my income to both income and self-employment taxes.
However, I worked my @$$ off (and was very lucky) and made 31% more in 2012 than I did in 2011 … which is pretty amazing when you consider the time I spend taking care of Lilly, visiting my terminally ill mom, and dealing with the death of Tom’s mom in 2012.
So, Lilly’s care totaled 28% of my gross income in 2012. When you suck off money for taxes and overhead and you take into account Lilly’s veterinary bills, it’s no wonder I feel like I’m falling behind financially … even though it was a good year.
I’ll do another post soon on all the ways we’re making this possible and what sacrifices we’ve made in our daily lives since our lifestyle means a budget already cut to the bone.
Nonetheless, I’m grateful and blessed that it was a good year. Otherwise, there is NO WAY I could have done what we’ve done for Lilly. Well, we probably would have done it anyway, but my credit cards would be maxed out, and I would be flat broke.
This very second (since I just paid my credit card bill) I’m starting the year with a clean slate veterinary debt-wise.
The Cost of Keeping Lilly Alive – Severe Adverse Vaccine Reaction
- 2012 Total Costs of Saving Lilly ~ $17,454.48
- Pet Insurance Reimbursement (maxed out for life on anything related to this illness) ~ $3,000
- Financial Help from Blog Readers / Family / Friends (chip-in) ~ $4,630
- Surprise Help from friends / fellow bloggers (in late 2012) ~ $1,700
If you want to look in detail at the various line-item costs, I believe you can download a spreadsheet file I created. For your amusement, I’ll share that the pet insurance reimbursement covered maybe Lilly’s first day in the hospital.
This grand year-end total does NOT include …
- Cleaning supplies to deal with Lilly’s total incontinence
- Costs of replacing the washing machine, clothes dryer, and well pressure pump — all of which died from the onslaught of Lilly laundry
- Gas costs for driving Lilly to and from the specialty hospital — an hour each way (sometimes as many as 9 appointments per month)
How We Spent YOUR Money
- The first chip-in from spring 2012 helped me pay off Lilly’s first week-long hospitalization.
- The second chip-in in fall 2012 helped me pay for Lilly’s second week-long hospitalization and the beginning of her chemo injections.
- The new / surprise money will help me pay for Lilly’s chemo and medications for the next few months.
One large gift ($1,000) came by mail from a friend and benefactor, whom I will let claim the GOOD DEED if she chooses. At first, we tried to decline the generous offer as just too, too, too much to accept, but after discussions on motivations and intent, we agreed to accept it.
Then, over the holidays Jodi from Heart Like a Dog contacted me privately to say that she’d hosted a fundraiser and that her readers decided to split the money between me and Lilly and Lauren and Desmond from Life With Desmond, who were displaced by Hurricane Sandy amid their own veterinary crisis.
With everything going on here and our blogging hiatus, I had NO IDEA our dog blog friends were working hard on our behalf.
Then, Lauren doubled the blessing by saying she wanted ALL of the money to go to me and Lilly. Take a minute to absorb that. Someone else in NEED decided Lilly needed it more.
Already humbled and weepy, I pretty much fell apart when I heard the news and received another online money transfer.
So, kids, that’s where things stand. I’ve roughed out a cost estimate for 2013 — assuming Lilly survives — and it looks like we’re facing another $7,500 for exams, chemo, blood work, and medicine at minimum this year. Except, as I type that, I realize that I forgot to include the acupuncture we hope to try soon.
I went ahead and let the chip-in expire at the end of the year for a couple reasons:
- Chip-in offers ZERO customer / technical support. They don’t accept or reply to emails or calls for help, and their FAQ pages generate error messages.
- Paypal is reporting these gifts as income to the IRS because I had more than 200 transactions in the year.
In addition to money for Lilly, I also raised money to help pay for a friend’s dog’s care. Because most of the donations were for modest amounts, I’m sure my CPA can help me figure things out with the gift rules and such, but it’s still a hassle. In general, I plan NOT to use Paypal much at all in the future … for anything.
So, I’m not sure if I will ask for help again or how.
Either way, Tom, Lilly, and I CANNOT THANK YOU ENOUGH for your love, support, and financial help.
There is a little heart still beating next to mine … and without all of you, that might not be the case.