Stayin’ alive

A kidney dialysis/transplant diary


I got a call early Thursday morning before breakfast, before my phone interview with Social Security, before the therapists arrived. The call left me internally disoriented and at a loss.

Thursday, in fact, was pretty much of a bummer day except for the therapy sessions which went well.

The phone call was from The Gazette. They called to tell me that as of November 1 (today) they would no longer extend my leave. I am no longer on The Gazette payroll. Why is that such a blow to me? I don’t know, but it is. It’s more than just the financial terror – and that’s what it’s becoming, a terror to think how I’ll manage to exist when this is all settled, somehow it seems to be a death blow to the future. 

Is there a future? I guess so, but it seems pretty bleak. It was never going to be filled with sunny retirement days of just goofing off, but I’m now wondering how I’ll be able make it from month to month. There will be – when I’m ready physically to go back – the opportunity to do some contract work in the online field for The Gazette. I’ll need to be able to do that at the very least.

This wasn’t unexpected, I guess. Newspapering is a business and even for the best of employees, a position can’t be left unfilled forever. I am shocked at how deeply it’s cut at my core, though, and I’m not sure how long it will take me to rebound.

My telephone appointment with Social Security wasn’t joyful either. My best bet, according to the worker I talked with, is to claim early retirement (I turn 62 in December). Unfortunately early retirement means a pared down benefit. My retirement benefit will be only $1,400 a month (See why I’ll need something besides Social Security?). 

Medicare premiums ($96 a month) come off the top and I’ll have to get some kind of prescription plan at the very least since the diabetes, renal and heart conditions mean I take a lot of meds, several with no generics available.

I can, the Social Security worker said, earn up to $14,000 a year before they start chipping away at that benefit $1 for every $2 earned.

The long term disability insurance from work will help for awhile yet. And if I continue to qualify as disabled, and I see no change in that status, it should continue until I’m 65. I was told that claiming retirement instead of disability (by the way, the SS disability allotment for me would be $1332 per month and there would be more restrictions on earnings) would not change my long term disability.

These worries have been gnawing at me for the past several days and will, I’m sure, continue to turn my guts inside out. I’m trying to think in terms of month to month or day to day, but it’s difficult.

The good is how well my therapy is going. I’m ahead of the goals the physical therapist and I had set and I need to keep pushing to get stronger and be more independent. 

I need to solve some transportation problems and then soon should be able to begin the contract work for The Gazette. I also need to begin developing some other ways to earn money, perhaps from home.

Any ideas?


November 1, 2008 - Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, fistula, health, kidney, renal diet, renal recipes, transplant, weight loss


  1. Kathy,
    You could get back into your knitting and the networking you have there and sell your work. You create such beautiful pieces. I’m sure you could make some money there. There are other opportunities available online, just have to spend lots of time checking it out.

    Comment by Cathy | November 11, 2008 | Reply

  2. Cathy —
    Thanks for the suggestions. I am pursuing some computer-related opportunities and will be doing some contract work for the Gazette while I check them out or train. Really miss seeing all of you at work.

    Comment by iowakitkat | November 15, 2008 | Reply

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