I broke down tonight — the stress suddenly took hold of me and I couldn’t climb over it. My husband didn’t know what to do with me, and I just sat and sobbed. It’s not like me — I handle stress by doing things — but tonight I didn’t have the strength and so the panic took hold of me and rendered me powerless.
M received a formal offer yesterday from a company he liked and would be very happy to work for. It’s a good offer — we should take it. So why am I feeling like I want to go upstairs and crawl under the duvet, never to leave Britain — never to leave my bed — again?
Health insurance is scaring the hell out of me, for one thing. This offer includes family health cover — paid 100% by the company and with a very good provider — which is excellent, but the are so many grey areas which I find that I either don’t understand or which infuriate me, or both. Take the exclusion period for instance: there’s a 60-day exclusion period before the health cover kicks in, during which we are uninsured. What is the purpose of this exclusion period, and how people in the US normally go about getting coverage during this time? I asked two people in States — a dear friend of mine who is an insurance agent in another state and my mother’s boss, who handles the health provision for her employees — and the answers have made me see red. The reason there is an exclusion period is because it’s standard practice for employers to not extend benefits to new employees until they are sure their new hires are going to work out. Well, I can understand that when it comes to nice-but-unnecessary benefits such as retirement plans, bonuses, gym memberships, even vacation allowances, but not something as day-to-day essential as health coverage. You can live without the others for a few months with no real adversity, but being without health cover for even a day has the potential to bankrupt people and wreck lives. To withhold something that basic is like withholding an employee’s pay. Who would find it acceptable if employers said, “We think you’re great and we want you to come and work for us, but we want you to work for us for several months with no pay until we’ve seen if you’re going to work out.” Unthinkable! So why is it acceptable to do that with something so essential as health cover?
But it was the answer to my second question that really made my blood boil. No, to be more accurate, it was the apathy in the response: you could hear the shrug of her shoulders as my mother’s boss said, “Well, I guess it might be possible to get temporary cover… I don’t really know. I think most people just gamble for those couple of months. You know, a lot of young people just don’t worry about it because they’re young and healthy.” She said this as if it were perfectly reasonable and — I thought — she might have been implying that it was an option for us, as if we were a couple of happy-go-lucky kids deluded in a belief of our own invincibility rather than the fully-grown, adult parents of two small children that we are. “I mean, it’s not like any of you are going to get sick.” She was talking about us, and almost saying out loud that I was being silly and paranoid to worry that we might need health care in those first couple of months. I came over all hot with indignity and was suddenly having trouble keeping my voice calm and pleasant as I blurted out, “No, but there’s a real possibility that we will all four be in a head-on collision as we learn to drive on the other side of the road!” Her response? She laughed and started chatting about some film she’d seen recently with a similar scene. As if I cared.
I also asked about E2′s recent troubles and the blood tests they are running: if they turn out to be positive and they diagnose her with coeliac disease (or something else) in the next few weeks, will that affect her coverage for it when we get there? My friend said probably not, as it’s group cover; my mother’s boss said it may. Either way, we don’t know for sure. And somehow, that’s what really shook me. The other stuff made me angry — really angry — but this frightened me to my mother-core. The idea that my child might be diagnosed with something and then hung out to dry just made me feel sick. It made me feel sick then and it makes me feel sick again now as I’m typing this. Everyone in the States that I talk to about this says it’s just how the system works, but it’s just not something that I can be that laid back about. Maybe I’m over the top and paranoid — or maybe I’m just a mother.
And that was what did me in. There are just too many unknowns with this move and my brain can’t handle it anymore. Everything feels right on the edge: the base pay is nearly enough to live on, but not quite; there’s commission on top that might make up the difference, but we can’t know how much money that will actually be until we take the plunge — will it be enough or not quite?; there’s the very meagre vacation provision (this job gives 5 days — which is better than others — but that still seems so mean when it’s M’s only chance for the entire year to travel around the world to see his kids); there’s the evening classes he’ll have to take, which means I’ll be alone with the kids several evenings a week as well as all day every day; there’s the whole health cover issue… So many things right on the edge — not one of them positioned well within the comfort-zone. If there were only one or two that were on the edge but lots of others that were sure-things, I think I could live with it. I’m ok with taking chances… just not with chancing everything.
And so it all overwhelmed me tonight, and I broke down in uncontrolled sobbing. I told M I don’t want to go. I want to stay here, I wailed. He was taken aback and said, “But how can we? We’ve gone over it time and again and there’s no way to make it work.” And that bit of truth sent me into new despair and I couldn’t control my crying.
We have to give this company an answer by Monday. But I feel like we’re back to square one — still completely unsure whether or not we should even go at all. I have no idea if it will work if we go, but equally no idea how to make it work so we can stay. I feel drained, exhausted, angry, frustrated, and frightened frightened frightened. I just don’t know what to do.