So once again, I am not blogging as often as I want to. Time slips past me like quicksilver and I lose track of it like it doesn’t matter. And it doesn’t, not so much. Not like I have to be anywhere.
Let’s see…what has been happening? Late April (or early May, I don’t remember), I got my packet from the Veteran’s Administration (VA), telling me I had been accepted for health benefits. These should be lifelong and should forever take care of the health insurance question. It does mean that I have to go to a VA facility for healthcare, but I am so okay with that. I called and set up my first appointment, getting their first available appointment: 17 July. Think they’re a little backed up? Oh well.
It’s going to be an interesting appointment. First off, I have to find out if I am actually eligible for some level of disability from the VA. Oh, not that I got some injury while in the AF but for a much more convoluted and fascinating reason. You see, I lived in Saigon for the Tet Offensive of 1968. My father has disability from the VA because he was exposed to Agent Orange. By association, and by living in Saigon at that time, it is entirely possible that I was also exposed, and therefore may have health issues that would be caused by it.
(Side note: the general scientific consensus is that Agent Orange, and Round Up, the weed killer that is also from Monsanto and contains one half of the ingredients of Agent Orange, cause a lot of diseases, including autoimmune diseases. Fibromyalgia has just been characterized as autoimmune rather than neurological. I think I have a decent case for disability…)
So we will have to decide if I am eligible for any disability, doing whatever testing is required to substantiate that. Which leads to my second question: would the VA pay for my fibromyalgia blood test? It lets them make the actual diagnosis for themselves. It would give me concrete evidence to submit to the SSA for my SSDI appeal and it would change my LTD from 2 years’ payout for a “self diagnoses disease” to a 5 year pay out for a proven and doctor/lab verified disease. And if somehow the test is negative, then we can begin trying to find out what else it could be, because I am really, really sick with something.
And in the meantime, as we’re doing all this testing, I want to keep all the medicines I’m on, so will the VA write scripts for all of my meds? It’s only 3 pain meds and 2 fibro meds…
(Insert explanation: Beloved actually forked out the money for a “no insurance” doctor visit for me. The doctor doubled down on the Vicodin, going from a 5 mg dose to 10 mg and added Neurontin, which makes a huge difference. Pfizer finally agreed to give me the Lyrica for free as part of their “help the community and those who need it” program. One problem: I had been taking it as 2 150 mg tablets, one in the morning, one in the evening. They sent me 300 mg tablets, that I take at night. Problem with that? Apparently taken in the large single dose, it makes me…um…high as a kite. So my choices come down to this: Insufficient pain management and a missing fibro med making me unable to function, OR pain management and both fibro meds and I’m in better shape emotionally and mentally, but am still essentially unable to function in a meaningful way. Guess which I have chosen?)
I will also be asking the VA about dental work, since I need that done, too. I’m not going to abuse these new benefits, but I am going to get all that I can and am entitled to have. And I don’t have to go far for my appointment–it’s about 25 miles from me, which is closer than our PCP is. Oh well.
Beloved was once again denied LTD from his insurance company, with only legal recourse at this point and we lack the funds to file a claim in court. So it was a possible source of income that won’t be incoming and we’re adjusting for that. Now let’s talk about some of the other adjusting we’re doing based on actual and potential income.
We got to talking about our costs, the money we have or will have, the money we can expect to have for the rest of our lives and how to best live on that extremely fixed income. We acknowledged that living here in NoVA is extremely expensive and that we are not going to be able to afford this apartment for very long if last year’s increase is any indication–our rent went up $25 last lease signing. That’s not a lot, true…but in 4 years, that makes an additional $100 and trust me when I tell you that our income is NOT going to keep up with that–and the concurrent increases in the cost of everything.
So Beloved said to me, “Okay, we’re retiring. That’s essentially what this is. We don’t go to work any more and we’re on a fixed income. We’re retirees.” I agreed. He continued. “So if we could live anywhere in the entire US, where would we go? Hawaii is out as is Alaska…both of them too far from anyone we know and AK is TOO cold for you. So what does that leave us?”
And we looked, discarding this state or area by virtue of its climate–both meteorological and political. (Which included VA for the political reasons.) And once we had done that, he says, “That pretty much leaves us with the West Coast.” Yup. We also agreed that SoCal was OUT of any discussion, but he asked me, “Where would we go?”
Well, WA is not bad politically, but a little cold for me. And OR didn’t have a lot to commend it to us. I’m sure that the people who live there (all 12 of them, HAHA!) or the other people who might want to move there think it’s great, but we didn’t find anything that made us go WOO HOO.
So Beloved says to me, “Ok, we’re looking at northern California. What is there, which city seems like the place we’d want to live?” And I went, “EUREKA!” which in Greek means, “I found it!”. It also happens to be nearly the only city on the northern coast of CA once you get past San Francisco. He and I looked at where it was on the map and I began to do my Internet Search-Fu to find out about it.
And everything I found? Began to suggest more and more that it was ideal. Short story? We’re moving to Eureka in November, come hell or high water. Long story? Let me tell you what I found out.
Eureka is called a city, but has a population of only 35,000 with a weekday swell to 45,000 with the commuters (whose commute averages about 15 minutes. Anyone who lives in VA would KILL for a 15 minutes commute).
Eureka is the only deep water harbor between San Fran and Coos Bay, WA. That means SEAFOOD. Fresh caught, freshly available, WILD caught. Oyster farms. Salmon. Tuna. SEAFOOD. SCORE!!!
Eureka is in Humboldt County, home of many, if not most, of the organic foods available everywhere else in the US.
Eureka has a cost of living that is between 30 and 40% cheaper than Northern Virginia. Rents are lower, utilities are lower, food is cheaper and is not taxed.
Eureka has a public transit system that runs 6 days a week. They also have a free “to your front door” ride available if you have documented disabilities that prevent you from walking to the bus stop, or if you’re unable to stand for more than 15 minutes at a time. We are, I believe, eligible for this service.
Eureka has a steady climate. The coldest temperature ever recorded was 24 degrees; the hottest, 84. The average temperature, year round, is 65 degrees. There are two seasons: dry and wet. So yes, in the “winter”, it rains. And rains. But there’s only 3 days per year that actually have a hard frost and almost no snowfall at all. Part of my ongoing issues with fibro is the weather, here in NoVA. It changes every 15 minutes or so. And that fluctuation in barometric wreaks havoc with my joints and causes more pain on top of the fibro’s blessings of pain. I look forward to “steady”.
Humboldt County is also home to the largest farms for medical marijuana. Which may prove to be useful to both me and my Beloved for pain management and anxiety, in that order.
Everything I have found out about Eureka makes me more and more eager to go. The only sadness I have at moving is leaving my friends and family behind, although I’ve asked everyone if they want to move with us! I will probably never get to see my family again except on Skype…ditto for the friends. But we talked about that quite seriously and have reached this conclusion: we CANNOT continue to live here, on the very edge of poverty, one car repair or major purchase needed from falling over into poverty, never to get out again because of the increasing costs in this area, while waiting for the 2-4 visits per year from the family members and friends. Yes, costs will increase in CA, but since we start from a much lower place, we will have to time to prepare for those higher costs over a greater period of time.
Eureka has a large artistic and creative community. I have found a wood working class for Beloved, and there are watercolor painting classes that I am interested in. If we want to go back to college, we can–either in the community college, or in Humboldt State University. We can go to the beach whenever we want, and even if the water’s a bit cold, I can get back into salt water. I have missed living near water and look forward to seeing the waves crash as the sun sets on the Pacific. It will be even better having my Beloved with me.
We intend to sell or get rid of all most all we own. We will only take those things that are too expensive to replace once in CA, or that are irreplaceable AND wanted. We are also traveling to CA by plane, first class. Beloved is a large man and would require two seats in coach…so we’re allotting money to go first class and avoid all the crush that coach entails. It also means that we can take two suitcases each, weighing up to 70 pounds. For an additional $100 per bag, we can each take one more bag, up to 100 pounds. That’s a grand total of 480 pounds of personal belongings that will go with us on the plane. We also get a hot meal, bigger seats, and booze. Well, maybe not the booze, but it really doesn’t matter. It’s a special start to a new life out West.
The opportunity for better living, better food (all organic), SEAFOOD, steady climate…means that perhaps this is the chance I need to take to end up recovering enough of my health to go back to doing some of the things I used to. Or at least not being chained to a computer desk because I cannot do anything else. I want to be healthy, but the conditions and our situation here are not conducive to that. I need to go some place else, and I think I have indeed, found it.
So there we are, and even though this hurt to type it out, I wanted to let you know that things have been happening with me. Hoping that they all turn out good!