Two Weeks Later – Good News, Bad News

It’s been a busy two+ weeks. On October 31, Bruce was hospitalized as part if his ongoing cancer battle. He’d lost 10+ pounds in 10 days and was unable to eat; considering his normal weight is 135 pounds, 10 pounds was too much, and the doctors agreed he needed a feeding tube. After two attempts, they finally got the tube inserted on Tuesday, November 5, and began feeding him on November 7 – yes, a full week later. There were lots of reasons for the delay, but at least it was in and working. He was finally released on November 12. He’s back home and doing well, and only has five radiation treatments left to go through. He will be done on November 22.

I had a very busy two weeks while he was in the hospital, handling a ton of stuff at work, and balancing spending as much time as possible with him with keeping life “normal” on the home front. (Well, whatever our version of normal has become!). I could have used this as an excuse to eat a ton of takeout, to pig out on leftover Halloween candy, to quit working out. I could have done a lot of things!

Instead, I pushed myself to try to get in a few good workouts, knowing I would feel better if I moved. I took almost all our leftover candy to work where our team, who do heavy physical labour for a living, made short work of it, eliminating temptation for me. I cooked almost every night, and the nights I didn’t I defrosted healthy leftovers or made soup, rather than going for a burger or for pizza. I managed to lose about a pound over these two weeks, which I’m very proud of.

Finally, as of this past week, I have made arrangements with one of my swim coaches to be my triathlon coach for next year’s season, including all my Ironman training. She’s giving me a discounted rate, because I’m her guinea pig – she normally coaches kids, and wants to break into adult coaching, and she’s never coached an Iron distance before. I’m good with that because she’ll give me good structure, and I like her – and I know I’d have problems working with someone I didn’t like.

So! Busy couple of weeks, but we move forward with a positive attitude and work towards ending the year on a high note!

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The Costs of Cancer – Even in Canada

Canadian healthcare is free, right? That’s what the belief is, anyway. What you don’t realize until you get sick is, that while the primary treatments are free, there are a lot of costs that are part of the treatment process that are completely out of pocket. I mentioned a couple of them in my post about taking on a second job, but as each week passes I’m still surprised what extra expenses are popping up.

Let’s start with the biggest one – income loss. As of this week, Bruce can no longer work. He will probably be off work for 6-8 weeks total. His company does not offer short term disability. Long term disability will not kick in until he has been off work for 119 days. The Canadian government does offer short term sick leave through their Unemployment Insurance program, but… there is a mandatory 2 week waiting period with no income, and the maximum payout is $501 per week before taxes. This is significantly less than Bruce makes. Because I was off work for 10 weeks earlier this year, our savings is already less than it should be, but we will manage. At a guess, depending on how long he’s off work, this will cost us ~$4,500.

Transportation and Parking: Bruce has to go for radiation 5x per week for 7 weeks (35 treatments). As well, there are additional appointments for IV hydration, surgery to insert a feeding tube, etc. etc. Best estimate is that gas is ~$5-7 per trip, and parking is $3.50 for 2 hours (some appointments are longer). Best estimate? 40+ trips, $10 per trip for gas and parking. That’s a minimum of $400 in extra costs.

Expenses not covered by Manitoba Medical. Dental visits, prescriptions, renting an IV stand, and many other (as yet unknown) items are not covered by Manitoba Medical and may also not be covered by our private insurance. Bruce needed ~$3,000 worth of dental work before treatments started; his insurance annual maximum was $1,000. Out of pocket costs: $2,000. Additional dental work that will not be covered will be another ~$2,000 after treatment ends. His drug plan covers 80% of prescription costs – I haven’t even tried to track our share of those costs.

Some group insurance plans have a critical illness benefit that would help us with these costs, but his doesn’t. He does have a life insurance benefit, but we’re really hoping we’ll never take advantage of that one!

So we’re dealing with it one expense at a time. Our savings is taking a hit again, but I guess that’s what savings are for. Our banker allowed us to restructure a few things which helped us out in the short term too. All I know is, once we’re through all this, I may be looking at private insurance policies to cover what our normal group plans don’t.



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Happy Halloween!

Short post – wishing everyone a Happy Halloween!

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Monday Morning Update

I really need to start doing my weigh ins again, but for now, I’ll just post the results of my appointment with the Naturopath on Thursday.

My weight was 156.3 pounds – slightly higher than my personal scale, but I also had a few clothes on so I was happy to see my home scale must be pretty accurate. My lean muscle mass was about 104 pounds (I didn’t get a copy of the printout, so this is all from memory), which gives me about 67.5% lean muscle, and 32.5% body fat, give or take. Our goal is 75%/25% so I have some work to do.

The good news? Some of my numbers were really good – my intracellular and extracellular water numbers were excellent, as was one other number that I can’t remember right now. Her opinion? Other than needing to deal with my stress/sleeping issues, which we know are driven by Bruce’s illness, and lean down a little, I’m very healthy. So YAY! 🙂

She prescribed two supplements, one to help regulate my cortisol levels, the other a calcium/magnesium blend that replaces my regular calcium supplement and should help me sleep better at night. Other than that, minor tweaks to my diet (first big one, give up processed sugars and reduce my carbs, replace them with more high quality protein) were all I need to do. So I’m working on that now.

As for my plans for last week, I did OK, but not super. I slept so well on Sunday night, I actually felt like myself on Monday. Tuesday I swam, and slept OK; Wednesday I actually ran 4 miles and felt awesome. However, I slept so poorly Wednesday night that not only did I feel awful on Thursday, it carried over to Friday; then I worked Saturday and was just wiped. I slept well Saturday night, and on Sunday managed another very good (if cold! Winter is coming!) run. So 1 swim, 2 runs. No bikes… but I’m just happy that I ran twice and both times felt really, really good.

So the plan for this week is… swim Tuesday & Thursday morning, and perhaps Saturday. Run Wednesday, and perhaps Sunday (I’m supposed to work that day). Ride Tuesday after work, maybe. Thursday is Halloween, which means the evening is tied up with the kids. 🙂 This weekend is Comicon, and I think we’re going Friday night. Either way I’m crazy busy so getting any workouts in will be a challenge.

We’ll see if I do better this week with the plan!

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Taking on a Second Gig to Pay for Triathlon

Like I don’t already have enough other things going on in my world…

Before we knew Bruce was sick, we had agreed that we would both look for a part time job to help fund our addiction, to help pay for our next Ironman, race fees, travel costs, etc. I had applied a few places, even had an interview at Starbucks (I didn’t get the job, which was disappointing, I think it would be fun to work there!). Then I got a call to go do some in-store product marketing. The work is only on weekends, shifts are 6 hours long, the pay is decent.

I’ve already worked three shifts, and have 4 more scheduled. The work is a little casual – some weekends I will work 2 days, some 1, some not at all. Part of me is a little freaked out – I already have so much going on, and with my sleep issues I’m pretty beat, but banking a little extra cash became even more important since Bruce got sick – cancer treatments are covered by our medical insurance, but things like parking, travel, extra dental work, some prescription drugs, and even time off work are not all covered (more on that in another post). So now we have a bunch of extra costs on top of our desire to bank money for next triathlon season.

All of this, of course, is assuming Bruce’s treatments do what they are supposed to do, and he is able to start training again by February. If he isn’t able to start training by February or March, our whole season may be in jeopardy. Well, I guess only his – he’s made it clear that I am to continue on our planned path with or without him joining me. (He actually volunteered to shepa for me if he is unable to race…. something he just refuses to do!)

So in the end, I’m hoping that before triathlon season starts in earnest (beginning of April) I will have earned close to $2,000 towards our costs. Even after additional taxes, it should be almost enough to pay for bike cases, or plane tickets, or some of our hotel costs. Not enough to pay for the whole shot by any means, but a decent dent in the trip.

Now I just have to juggle it all!

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