Monday, July 27, 2015

My thyroid journey.

You've come to that piont you fear your body is failing you, but no one will listen and all the tests the dr runs are "normal." But what is normal.

   Things really kicked off for me in 2007 after having my first child, but let's back track a bit further. As long as I can remember my mother stuggling with weight, and fatigue. I remember as just a little girl my mom needed a nap most every day and would become very irritable almost randomly. I grew up stuggling with depression and anxiety issues though most were attributed to family issues between my parents, who are still married after 35 years, and being a girl... A girl? So having female body parts makes every issue we women have girl issues? I was also an angry child.  I don't recall every issue growing up, but I did fight with my father and even ran away from home a few times.  I thought of hurting my self, but honestly I never had the strength (or maybe anger) to actually do it. I was always a clumsy child and seemed very prone to sprains and concussions. But overall birth through age 13 was pretty normal I would assume. Then sometime early in my high school years I started getting really bad almost debilitating headaches. Tension they told me, it was similar to a migraine but with out all the sick parts and migraine medications made it worse. Ok I had been having my period for a while by now and had started to take note that it was never regular, but then again I was young and everyone said that was normal too. By my sophomore year I was starting to lose focus, and no I wasn't focused on other things I just couldn't stay focused on my work. By my Junior year I had fallen so far behind they finally kicked me out.  Thing is I never was a bad student,  I was never good at English or History, but I always tried. I finished high school through a home school program, I even went to cosmetology school, and then I joined the Army. Here my depression got worse, in part it was ptsd (post tramatic stress disorder) from serving over dead during war, add in a comanding officer that doesn't care, and uncle that kills himself, a bisexual roommate that molested me, and an injury that will apparently haunt me the rest of my life. I attempted suicide in 2004, but I still don't remember much. I had been on an antidepressant, and besides the ones I had talked previously for my headaches. I knew very little about how it all worked.  I was suppose to have a follow visit with mental health before the 1 day pack ran out.  I must have set this appiontment 6 times, but my comanding officer refused to release me from duty to make my appiontments. I took my last dose 3 days before, and had no idea that if you are on strong meds like that and run out you need to get to a hospital. I got home that night fought with my room mate and took my dinner to my room. I came clear long enough to call 911, I had over dosed. So I got out of the military came home started collage and got a party time job.  With in 6 months I had 2 jobs. Then the headaches stated again, these hasn't been an issues in 3 years now. The anxiety set in. And before I knew it I was cutting hours at work, and dropping classes just to manage passing grades. I got engaged during this time too, it's funny though, I was pushing him but he was the one that would say I could start planning.  One day he told me to get help for my anxiety, I agreed but only if he would go with me. I could see the same issues he was blaming me for in him, but he never would go with me.  Of course even here antidepressant after antianxiety and antidepressant, nothing seemed to make a difference, and as time went on. I was still working less and less and taking less and less classes.  I could focus, I could maintain, I couldn't function.  Finally,  a Dr diagnosed PTSD, and yes it explained all my issues, but it didn't fix them. I went on to meet the man I did marry and who I now share 3 beautiful sons with.  But some where things changed. See I never thought much of it being younger but while on birth control, every 6 months or so I would become very crampy and sick, I would then have to stop all medications for about a month then things would get back to normal.  I thought I was just needing to detox from the meds and pian killers, but now I think it was the start of the ovarian cysts.
    See I think I've had progressive thyroid issues since at least age 14, when the headaches first stared, but I'm sure probably even before then.  But it was after my first son that things really turned.  I weighed only 150 pounds before getting pregnant and had never had trouble losing weight. I had a great pregnancy, but I gained 50 pounds with my son and after losing about 25 shortly after giving birth suddenly there was nothing I could do to drop even 5 pounds.  I breastfeed all 3 of my kids for a year, and right at that 1 year mark with my first I had my first issue I felt like I was dieing. My anxiety was though the roof, I was suddenly allergic to things that had never bothered me, and I was cramping severely. Turned out besides the other issues, I had my first ovarian cyst and it ruptured. Ok so scared for what might be in store for my future fertility we decided to try for #2. We had a 8 week miscarriage then conceived again shortly after.  Everything went well again, but I gained yet another 50 pounds to only ever lose that 25 in the first week. I was up to 200 pounds.  I got a progesterone iud, and did everything I could think of to lose weight, while still nursing my son. I was tired a lot but who wouldn't be with 2 kids, and my mood swings and anxiety were all over the place but we managed. Did I mention my milk fluctuated a lot, some days I had to much and others I had very little,but we made it though.  Till that 1 year mark, and the cysts returned. The dr said it was my body confused with the breast-feeding and trying to start my period. Eitherway this time we knew the progesterone made the cysts worst then they were without, so I had the iud removed. We were trying to decide if we wanted to grow our family when we had a opps and found out we were pregnant again. But this one also ended in a miscarriage at about 9 weeks, it was faternal twins. We took a long time to think about things and I stated temperature charting to track my cycles. I was able to prove to the dr the cysts were not only real but often too. By this piont I was having ruptured cysts ever 3-5 days with very little relief inbetween. We did decide to give it one more go, knowing that after we would need to figure out once and food all what was really going on with my body.  So I had my 3rd son, gain 40 pounds this time and once again lost about 25 in the first week. That's when my body finally gave up. I hurt in places I didn't know I could hurt, I was so tired I couldn't survive a day with out a nap. By now my mood swings were off the charts and everything triggered my anxiety. I was board line ocd, but with no motivation or energy to do anything. Then I noticed my hair hadn't grown in almost a year.  I had gotten into a habit of cutting my hair to my chin in December and by June it was to my armpits again. But it had been over a year since I last cut my hair and it was barely any longer then when I had it cut. I realized I didn't need to shave my legs or armpits more then once a week or so either.  Of course the Dr's are still trying to solve the ovarian cyst issue which came back early after son #3. But all the tests they run are normal, and I'm not showing any of the other common symptoms for polycystic ovarian syndrome, or any other fertility issue that normally cases cysts. Another dr tests for autoimmune disorders, and send me to a specialist who diagnosed fibromyalga (chronic generalized pain). They ever tried to say that might explain why the cysts hurt so much, I was overly sensitive from the fibromyalga. More meds more pain killers more this more that.  Finally, one day at my psychologist office in explaining everything and he stops looks up and says, "your thyroid test is normal, but I thing you have subclinical hypothyroidism" subc-what? Ok so basicly this is were you show common thyroid symptoms, but your tsh (or thyroid stimulating hormone) is still in a normal range. Of course I had failed to mention to him in my extreme fusteration,  I had researched anything and everything that might tie ovarian cysts, fibromyalga, headaches, fatigue and even PTSD together. I was certain my thyroid was failing me but I had no idea it would fixed so much. With in 3 days the pain was gone, I want as tired, my mood was better.  By the end of the first week I had one more cyst burst, though noticeably smaller then past ones,  my headaches cleared,my mind cleared. I felt like I new person, suddenly I felt, "normal" real,  like I found a part of me that I lost many years before, or maybe even a part I never had to begin with.
   
    My psychologist had been my biggest help on this journey, I went from feeling like I was only 25% myself to 75% myself and after a second appiontment we upped the dose and I began feeling 95% myself. I'll admit I still have ups and down,  I still have yet to lose this extra 65 pound I put on during my pregnancies. And I did get lucky to have a Dr that opened his ears and heard me.  I also got lucky that at least for now the basic common generic prescription Levothyroxine does work for me.  And add long as I take my medicine daily I don't need antidepressants or anxiety meds,  I don't have ovarian cysts, I only have fibromyalga flares during my period, which is almost clock work now and even birth control couldn't do that.  My stress is down, my headaches are gone and best of all not only do I not need a daily nap I actually have the energy to chaseand pay with the kids.

    Remember I mentioned my mom in the beginning? What I was about 15 she was diagnosed diabetic. That had been a huge fear of mine especially with my weight gain. Well after my diagnosis, my mom fought her dr to see and endocrinology, and sure enough he diagnosed her with hypothyroidism. See after having my 3rd son I realized very quickly that everything I was going through (our already the parts I knew my kids could see) I remembered watching in her all those years growing up. I was already afraid of becoming diabetic, but at that moment I already was the mother that later became a diabetic.  Honestly, yes I believe I stared having thyroid issues some time in my teens, but it was pregnancy that tied the scale. And now we know that pregnancy possibly cuase my mom to become hypothyroid as well, since she was much like me till having kids. It took 30 years and me being diagnosed, to finally help my mom get the help she needed.

    Now I am hoping with early treatment, that I can lose weight and get healthy and avoid diabetes and other health issues, at least a decade or so longer then my mom did. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Our goal after getting out of debt

Understand, our house will still be a debt once all other debt is paid off. But a debt that we could hopefully sell.

    Our main goal is land. We want to sell our house and buy something on 20 or so acres and have a small ranch, or homestead of sorts. We aren't looking huge, just something the kids can get lost on and find thier way back.  A dozen or so large animals and a garden from which I can actually harvest enough to can and preserve yearly.

    Now some where in here is possibly going to be our 10 year anniversary, for which I have asked for 1) my ranch 2) a family Hawaii vacation, or 3) a family cruise. Of course at least 2 of those could be combined into 1. ;-) Also there is this grand and all most looming idea of replacing my car, does it need replaced? No. He just wants too. Well, that and it has a lot of basic features we would like that aren't included. Examples a tow hitch, he hates towing but many times this would have come in handy. A roof rack, again not needed and we could always afford both for far less then a new car, but convenience comes again. Also its a SUV, it had 8 seats 2 bench rows and 2 front seats. There is a 7 seat option in which it is set more like a mini van with 1 bench row, 2 middle seats and 2 forward seats.  With 3 kids, and the way the middle seat was designed :-/ a 7 seater would be much more convenient. Did I mention he wants to order it.... somethings are certainly more a want then a need, and perhaps this want might need to wait just a while longer. I'll be happy paying off some debt and finally affording or dream home.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Getting out of Debt. Month 1

1st. Paycheck came in today, along with the husband's vacation pay. Yes he gets prepaid vacation time, and in many ways this is both good and bad. For 1 if we want to plan a vacation we don't only need to plan for the cost of the vacation but also for the lost pay from the time off, certainly we could just save his vacation check but sometimes there are bills you need to pay off or things you need to buy. 2, we have a substantial cash influx that can go into a savings account or be used to take care of important things immediately. 3 unfortunately it is much easier to spend a cash influx then it is to save it. 4 as long as you aren't planning on taking more then 1-2 days of vacation at a time the loss of monthly income with have little effect overall.
   As much as I would love to just put this money in saving, and I will admit it would be the better option, we aren't. We have been trying to replace the fences, and though the neighbors are chipping in for half the initial cost is coming out of our pockets. I also need to take 3 of the 4 animals to the vet for annual shots,  normally I would use a credit card for this but we are choosing in efforts to pay off credit that we will use the vacation pay. Both cars were over due for oil changes, small expenses but nessecary and by using the vacation check this won't cut into monthly income and hopefully provide us with savings at the end of the month.  And yes we took the kids the dinner, and got a few things for t-ball. There are other needs and wants this money will go to, hopefully not all of it, and certainly not more then available.
   I also have started entering the monthly bills into the check register so as to make sure that everything is accounted for and our available money is known.  Most of the bills will come out of the account between the 3rd and 7th. Also by pre recording later bills I both insure payments are available and avoid spending "bill money". But this only works for us becuase our total bills fit into the paycheck we get once monthly. Gas and groceries come out of the biweekly paychecks, and yes we have a single joint account so there is no his bills/income-her bills/income. It's ours and everything it taken care of together.
   As stated in the prior post our pay off plan is going into effect. And though an extra $100 seems hardly enough to make a difference it will. The first bill I am paying off currently totals $840 and change. Totally payment will be $125, the $25 which is the standard month minimum I have already been paying. Simple math 840/125 shows it will take 7 months (rounded up) to pay this bill off. With interest my excel plan is estimating 8 months. But a down side of this biller is temporary interest free phases on new charges. This can be 6-24 months of interest free payments but if you don't pay this off within the phase it will expire and all of that accumulated interest that hasn't appeared will. I had almost $300 in back interest appear one time from this.  And worse part charges aren't typically paid first in first out. No your payment is fragmented between multiple charges. Meaning the more times you use the card the longer it will take to pay off each past charge.
Example: $250 with 6 month interest free you plan to pay $50 a month this should take 5 months to pay and you don't have to pay the interest. But after your second payment you charge another $250 again with 6 month no interest. Your total due is now $400 and you continue to pay only $50 a month.  But now you have 1 interest free at 4 month and the other at 6. But your payments are spilt (not 50/50 but let's pretend) 150 at 25 a month will take 6 months plus the 2 you already paid is 8 meaning your 3 months over your interest free and getting charged a high interest rate plus let's pretend another $50 in back interest that was added to your bill. And I'm sure you can already see that at only $25 a month the second charge wasn't paid off at that 6 month mark either putting a second $50 back interest charge on the bill. That one is now at $100 plus $50 back interest from the first and another $50 from the second. You still owe $200 plus monthly interest.
OK, yes chances are I'm to that piont already and my $840 balance due and 8 months to pay off are completely inaccurate. But for now we will hope I don't get hit with any back interest, and my formulas don't figure back interest anyways, only monthly on the total due. So hopefully if I do get back interest it will be already mostly figured into the plan. If not it will take a little longer to pay this one of then I hoped.
   All other bills are being paid at minimum due simple to avoid late fees.

    Well, after t-ball, dinner and oil changers the vacation check didn't stretch as fast as I had hoped. Then add in that we decided to take a family vacation that we probably couldn't really afford... is the 25th right now and I'm down to pennies in the bank account. Most of the mid month pay went to groceries or camping, and right now I'm  on the edge of having a few bills that might overdraft our account. This is an issue with overspending and not having a back up or vacation savings.  Good news is hubby got a raise and will be getting almost 700 more a month, but due to training he doesn't actually get the raise till September, though his training bonus will hopefully come in before. So effective September 1st, my additional payment amounts will be increased, though I haven't discussed with him how much.

    Also I did get looking at the statement for my first payoff card... I was right there is a promotional period expiring soon, early August, and unless I can pay the almost 800 on the first I will have another $40 or so more interest to pay.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Getting out of Debt. My Story.

   Why do we have debt? How does one accumulate so much debt? How can we avoid debt?
   We all have our own reasons for getting into debt, staying out of debt, or like most people wanting to get out of debt. But even bigger then getting out of debt is how did we get into debt in the first place? Homes, vehicles, and student loans are for the most part the starting lines to massive debt. Of course 2 of these 3 are also what is call secure debt, meaning if you stop paying they can take it away. But student loans are unsecured, which means if you stop paying bill collectors will try thier best to force you to pay any way they can, usually by endless annoying phone calls and letter. 
   Often times like my family you try really hard to keep debt to a minimum. The 3 above are consider perfectly acceptable to most people. Some people choose to rent a home rather then buy, we decided to buy. Eitherway chances are you have at least 1 if not all 3 of these types of credit. Then your car breaks down so you get a credit card (an unsecured line of credit) to pay for the repairs. Unless you shred this credit card after its 1 intended use it sits in your wallet. And like most of us "I'll pay it off and I can use it for emergencies." A few things can happen here. 1 You pay it off diligently and quickly and never use it beyond true emergencies. 2 You make only minimum payments at a time wishing the bills will just suddenly stop coming.  3 the most likely,  you make a few large payments realize there is enough room on the card to buy that new TV you've been wanting, you find someway to convince yourself that replacing your TV constitutes an emergency, and now your card is maxed out. Then the refrigerator dies and this replacement is a true emergency. You can't use your emergency card, it's maxed out, but you have a well enough income to cover a second payment so you get a store card to replace the refrigerator. I bet you bought the larger, fancier model with water and ice in the door. You included delivery too. I did. You might have even picked up a few home extras you've been wanting but didn't have the extra for, I did that too. Once again you make a few big payments between the 2 cards, your really trying here. Just when you think you'll get one paid off the washing machine breaks again and your tired of fixing the old thing.  Fortunately, there is just enough room on the credit card,  but only if you go back to the same store. Over time your either making up more emergencies, having more catastrophes, or debating whether to pay the extra on the cards or pay the minimum and go buy a new dress. Yeah the dress won didn't it?
   I have 9 lines of credit right now, yes 9. My house; my car, which is bigger and cost more then I probably needed; The air conditioning/heating unit which with a baby in December was a must;  The pet vet card, another emergency; The appliance card; The store card becuase it was an emergency and I wouldn't have cash for another week; the computer card; the loan for the really expensive pans you thought you needed to have; oh and the actual emergency card that by this piont is a revolving use card becuase there are so many payments going out that there is no more extra left. But hey at least your being diligent now and you only use this one right? Every month? Its starting to seem as though no matter how much you place on this 1 card at the end on the month is maxed out again. But all the others are specific stores or company's so even if they aren't maxed you can't just use them anywhere.
   So you take the first step. You take every single card out of your wallet (except the emergency card, becuase that's what is there for right) and you file them freeze them hide them.  Out of sight out of mind, right? And then the dog has an abcess and needs to go to the vet,  so you think "I'm only going to get out this one card becuase it's really an emergency." Yes that's where I am.  Understandably, some things are true emergencies and you have to find a way to pay for them. But wouldn't it be better to have some back up cash instead of always paying interest rates on a card? Instead of having to get another card becuase the first card is already maxed?  Instead of paying more on debt then you can put into a savings account to begin with?
   Did you know debt consolidation company's take the payments of all your debt and have you place no less then the payments of those debts into a savings account instead of making your payments. Then they attempt to bundle your card with hundreds of others people's cards for the same company. Offer a low fat rate for a bunch of cards that aren't being paid on anyways, and split that payment plus fees to all of the card owners. Who then use the money in savings to pay back.  Until all your cards are paid off, and by the way canceled. Given they might be able to save you money and pay off your cards faster but that's only becuase they are working with thousands if not millions of customers at a time with thousands of lines of credit with huge balance totals. But I'm only me, and I do know from my own mom what a hit on your credit score that looks like in the end too.
   I know I could try to find a debt consolidation company, but I really don't way to go that route. I could try to get a debt consolidation loan but with out collateral (that's the secure loan thing I mentioned earlier) it's difficult to get a high enough loan with a reasonable interest rate. I did try to refinance the house in an attempt to pay off the cards using equity, but thanks to the recession there's is still no equity in my house. So it looks like I'm going to do this the hard way. The one man (women) against the world way.  The doing my best to be diligent without screwing it all up way...
   So... how many lines of credit do you have? Like I said I have 9, 2 are secure credit my house and my car.  The other 7 are revolving or open end credit, meaning unfortunately I can buy something else and charge it to that card if there is room and if it's to the proper company for some.
   Not including the house my debt weighs in at just under $30,000 a month with minimum payments of over $1000 a month.  My total monthly bills including this debt and my house, estimated gas and groceries is over $4200 a month with a monthly family income of roughly $5000 a month.  And unfortunately up untill now most of the extra approximately $800 dollars is spent every month on other uncalulated wants and needs or extra payments to this unwanted debt. This isn't my first time trying to correct my mistakes and trying to make ends meet. I have on many occasions gone over the bills and reduced spending in many areas, to include reducing the phone plan and cable bill. Removing bills and services that are otherwise unnecessary including a secondary life insurance plan. There are a few bills and expenses I could give up but haven't, like further reducing or ending phone and cable, ending our home security system, not getting my nails done every 2 weeks, or adjusting the air conditioner setting sacrificing a little more comfort for a lower monthly bill. But at least for now I'm going to work with what I have and reduce other excess spending to provide both a backup cash plan and pay off the debt.  Yes there will be times that I will need to use the extra cash. After all I have a husband 3 kids 2 cats 2 dogs a house and 2 cars. But the goal is to use the cash not the credit, and not reduce any more of our current luxuries unless absolutely necessary.
   So here's the plan. After figuring all of our monthly income and expenses I compiled a separate list of the credit I want to pay off. Though I'm sure I  made a few mistakes I used excel and wrote in formulas to figure payments and interest each month. Right now at minimum payments most of the lines of credit would take well over 2 years to pay off, with exception to my car which will be paid off in about 18 months at its current payments. I didn't include the house in this plan right now as my goal is to free up cash and the will take much longer even with extra payments.
   Prior to January when I first made this plan I was rounding must of my revolving credit payment up to the nearest 50 or 100 dollars. In total I was paying nearly $400 over my minimum payments across all the cards.  With little total balance improvement and a high cash shortfall at the end of the month often causing the reuse of credit to make ends meet.  At the time in my mind moving all of this $400 to 1 payment at a time would pay everything off faster and I should still have about another $400 for unexpected monthly spending. But I didn't take into account a child health emergency and lost time from work, though I did great budgeting for vacation. The past 6 months fortunately with exception to the 1 main emergency card, we have managed to avoid any additional spending on the credit. Unfortunately, I have also only been making minimum payments due to the unforseen expenses. Also, becuase I can't seem to get my husband past using the main card for an evening beer once in a while to avoid me having to record it in the check book, that one for now will remain a revolving line until I get a little further into this plan.
   On my payoff list I arranged my types of credit by balance due, though I think I want to look at it again and arrange by planned payoff. I choose to pay them off starting with the lowest balance mostly becuase I like to see progress and a lack of progress and hinder any plan. Small goals first big goals after.  I also when to my banks online bill pay system and set all of my bills both credit and none credit to auto pay, fitting with in our pay days to avoid unintended overdraft fees and reduce my ability to pay less on the payoff card then intented. To my surprise my first plan back in January with almost $400 a month extra on credit would have taken me just under 2 years to pay off. I figured the current  plan with only $100 extra a month and though we having been paying for the past 6 months my new plan will hopefully only run a little over 2 years. So I adjusted my bill pay to automatically pay my first planned pay off creditor at $100 over the minimum payment bringing that payment total to $125 while all others are still at only a minimum payment. I choose to only start at $100 over mostly becuase I need to have the extra cash for unexpected expenses while we try to cut unnecessary spending as well.  At any piont in time there is extra money at the end of the month it will go to saving and once my saving is stable at $1000 any amount left over each month will go to additional credit payments.
   So below is an image of the beginning of my payoff plan that actually takes effect July 1st 2015. My husband is current experiencing some temporary layoffs at work that will potentially cut our income by a few hundred dollars each month and he isn't getting the overtime we are use to but I have always figured overtime pay into extra spending and not regular income for bills. So things will reasonably be tight for the month of July but my goal at the end of this month will be all the bills are paid as planned and to put no less then $200 dollars into savings for true emergencies. Wish me luck.