The author of this post is known to Mamamia and has agreed to write for us because she feels strongly about this issue. She has also chosen to remain anonymous
Our lives were almost perfect. Two kids, picket fence around our little home (okay it wasn’t a picket fence but it was white and had rose bushes that flowered in the summer and was picture perfect) and our lives seemed to span perfectly before us.
We had worked hard to get where we were. Forfeiting overseas travel in favour of saving our money to put a deposit down on a house in a suburb where we thought the kids would grow up carefree and happy, near good schools and with plenty of fresh air and outside space to play. And although we still worked hard our lives were travelling smoothly. The kids were happy and healthy, our relationship was solid and life was good.
I was at work the day I got the phone call.
“He’s collapsed” they said “we called an ambulance you better get to the hospital quickly”
I don’t know how I got to the hospital, I don’t know who picked up the kids from day care and I can’t ever imagine going back to the second before that call.
My husband had suffered a stroke. At the age of 36. Without a moment’s warning. He had a clean bill of health, had never so much as suffered from high blood pressure and now he was lying in a hospital bed unable to move and not responding to the doctors or me at all.
They say it is the days just after the stroke that matter the most to the patient. They don’t tell you that it is all the days after that, that matter most to the family.
While my husband lay in bed struggling to move or to speak there were two little girls who were as confused and as scared as I was. There were two little girls that needed to be tucked into bed at night and fed and bathed and told that everything would be okay. And I couldn’t do that for them.
Our time in the hospital was frightening. Filled with moments of hope and anguish as they discovered what damage was permanent and what could be handled with rehabilitation.
I tried to be at the hospital as often as I could. I tried to put off work and running a home and looking after two little girls but things were building up around me and I felt like I was drowning in responsibility. And tears.
I joked at the time that my house looked worse than my husband did. There were meals coming in from very kind friends and family but not much washing being done, there were flowers everywhere (the hospital didn’t want flowers kept in the ward) and the there was piles and piles of mail.
It’s a funny thing but I had never been much of a mail watcher. I had left that to my husband. I never saw the bills coming in and I never even questioned how they got paid. Everything had just worked and now that he didn’t, nothing else was.
Cue two months later and my husband transferred from the hospital to a rehabilitation clinic and the mail started to become more frequent. And louder if that’s possible of mail. Big, angry demanding letters of payment owed. I had all but given up my work to look after Tom* and the kids and I seriously had no idea how we were going to pay a single bill. Clearly Tom wasn’t going to be working for a long time.
It was only when I sobbed out loud about an electricity disconnection notice and readied myself for the very real prospect that we were going to have to sell our dream home that my husband’s colleague mentioned to me that Tom had invested in income protection insurance as part of his overall insurance cover.
The day I called the broker to get the details the sun shone a little brighter. I was handling so much stress that I hadn’t even realised how much the financial realities before us were impacting me.
I don’t know if it was the easing of tension that rubbed off on Tom or if it was the most fortuitous timing on earth but the day that income protection insurance came through my husband managed his first full sentence. “I want to go home” he said.
And he’s home. Recovering slowly but determinedly and realizing how lucky he is to be at home. A home that we can still call our own thanks to his foresight and the benefit of income protection.
Thankfully, this family were prepared financially for this unforeseen tragic event but research shows that over 2/3 of Australian’s won’t have an insurance policy that protects their income so they can keep paying the bills and living the lifestyle they are accustomed to. Do you? If not, why?<
Lifewise is a not-for-profit campaign aimed at creating awareness on the issue of underinsurance in Australia. Currently, 95% of Australian families are underinsured. It’s not something anyone wants to think about, but not thinking about it – or doing something about it… is worse.
Find out today what you are covered for. Go to the Lifewise calculator to see ‘how much is enough’ at Lifewise.org.au. Then do something about it.
Isn’t it time you started the conversation?