By incredible luck, a few weeks ago, a group of people gave me a place to sleep and food to eat.
A few days ago, I was having a difficult day because of very strong symptoms. At mealtime, I was very hungry, but because of my symptoms I did not have an appetite and the pain in my stomach felt as if someone were reaching through my abdomen with both of their hands and crushing my insides into a tiny ball. They brought me chicken soup, and I knew that if I could eat the food, it would improve my symptoms, so I very much wanted to eat the soup. Each time I tried to spoon the soup into my mouth, my stomach would clinch even tighter and I would feel nauseated. Nothing was wrong with the soup. I was unable to eat anything, and it was only because of my symptoms.
The next day, when the woman who had made the soup saw that I did not eat the soup, she was very upset at me. She and the people helping me are poor, and she was upset because the money necessary to make the soup had been wasted. The cost of the bowl of soup was somewhere between US$0.50 and US$1.00.
The people in the group speak varying degrees of English. At the low end, the woman who cooked the soup for me does not speak any English. At the high end, one woman spoke English as her first language because she grew up in the United States and had spent most of her life there. I spent time speaking with all of them about my medical problems, how they affect my life, and my symptoms. I have learned many medical words in Spanish, but I am not fluent. Because of the varying degrees of communication, the degree of detail, and which details, knowledge about my symptoms varies widely within the group.
At the time she cooked the soup, she did not understand that my symptoms could prevent me from eating. And, despite additional efforts to communicate, she does not understand that my symptoms caused me to spend three hours trying to eat the soup.
A week before all of this happened, I wrote about the help I was receiving from them, the help I was receiving from my three friends in the United States, and that I only needed a little more help so that I could be on the path to recovery. One of the three friends who is currently helping me sent me some extra cash, which I desperately needed so that I could buy medicine. Unfortunately, no one else supported this fantastic opportunity for me to become self-sufficient.
The above story contains every factor that led to me losing this opportunity and once again sleeping on the street.
The high cost of wasted time
To state it mildly, I am distraught. I am trying to be stoic, but in the last 24 hours approximately eight strangers have approached me and asked me if I am okay.
If I had had one extra dollar, then I may have been able to reduce the tension enough so that we could continue to communicate and understand each other better. But I did not have an extra dollar.
I spent over 40 hours last week writing on my website to beg for the support necessary to make this opportunity a success. If I had already had the necessary support, I could have spent that 40 hours communicating and working with them to implement the plans we had.
During the time I was there, I spent about 20 hours trying to acquire the medicines I needed. And they spent at least 30 hours collectively trying to acquire medicines for me, and in some cases, successfully acquiring medicines I needed. If I had already had the necessary support, we could have spent that time establishing a relationship on which to build my recovery. And they would not have had to spend their time and money on medicines for me.
Poverty is expensive
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a family who was letting me sleep on their floor. I also wrote that I was out of my most important medicine, modafinil, and that I desperately needed to buy it. The pharmacy from which I buy modafinil has a home delivery service, and if you use the service there is no extra charge and you get a discount between 5% and 6%. Furthermore, they typically deliver within two hours. But, if you use the service, you can only pay with cash. I did not have cash. And I had so little money that I could only buy the medicine if I used the loyalty reward points I had accumulated, which is not possible with home delivery.
The gentleman was kind enough to drive me to the nearest pharmacy, which happened to be unusually far from their house. When we arrived, we learned that the location did not have the medicine in stock. In fact, in the entire city with more than 20 stores, that was the only location that did not have it in stock that day. So, he drove me to a different location so I could buy the medicine.
Because I did not have cash, I could not take advantage of the discount or convenience of home delivery. Plus the people who were already helping me had to waste an hour of their time and waste gas to drive me to two different locations so that I could buy the medicine. Poverty is expensive.
Today, I ran out of modafinil again, so I walked, with my backpack, to one of the locations of the pharmacy chain. This was a different location than last time, but buy amazing luck, it was the only location in the city that did not have the medicine in stock that day.
Tomorrow, I would have run out of my second most important medicine, bupropion, so I went to the pharmacy chain that has the best price for it, and I made sure I went today, Monday, because they have a 25% discount on Mondays. One box lasts me five days, so I wanted to buy two boxes so that I would not run out before next Monday. The location I went to only had one box.
Poverty erases the benefits of good habits
When I had a normal life, I never waited until the last minute to buy the medicines I needed. I had to-do lists, and schedules, and reminders, and I even had some of the medicines automatically mailed to me when it was time for a refill. Now that I live in poverty, I still have to-do lists, and schedules, and reminders, so I know in advance when I need more medicine (and groceries and toiletries and super glue and adhesive bandages and to pay bills and to get cash from an ATM: in spite of my medical problems and homelessness, I still monitor, prioritize, and schedule all of those things. Unless the world has radically changed, very few people reading this can match my organization skills and habits).
But because of poverty, I cannot afford to buy the medicines in advance. Instead, I must beg and wait until I am completely out of the medicine before I can buy more. Planning ahead and having a schedule for your life is a huge advantage in efficiency and in eliminating foreseeable crisis situations. Said differently, planning ahead and having a schedule is necessary to gain those benefits but they are not sufficient to gain those benefits. Without money, plans and schedules do not create efficiency or avoid crisis situations. Poverty is expensive in many ways, including that it reduces efficiency and produces crisis situations that could have been avoided.
The story of the soup illustrates a lost opportunity for me to recover. The story of the soup is about the high cost of poverty. I was unable to eat soup that cost less than a dollar and that created problems. That is a poverty issue. If someone had decided to support me and the people who are helping me by sending only $10 a month, then maybe we could have avoided the tension about one dollar’s worth of soup.
The many hours I had to use to find medicine and find money and the many hours they used to help me find medicines is all about poverty.
If I were in the United States, my life would be much worse
If you think these medicines are expensive, you should see the prices I would have to pay in the United States. Modafinil is approximately five times as expensive in the United States as it is in Mexico. Bupropion is approximately three times more expensive. Furthermore, both of those medicines require a prescription in the United States but do not require a prescription in Mexico. Therefore, I would have the additional cost of seeing a doctor to write prescriptions if I were in the United States.
In the United States, I asked the government for help and they gave me help
Many people respond to this by saying I can get assistance from the government in the United States When I was in Texas just before I came to Mexico, I asked for help from the government. The government approved food assistance and medical assistance. The food assistance was a little over $60 per week for a maximum of 12 weeks, and then they would not provide any more assistance.
The medical assistance was only that I could consult with a doctor for free. The government tightly restricted the medicines that the doctor could prescribe. For example, the doctor said I needed an anxiolytic, and the doctor said that the diazepam and alprazolam that I was taking were good anxiolytics for me. The government, however, prevents her from writing prescriptions for either of those medications. Therefore, she wrote a prescription for the best anxiolytic she had permission to prescribe. The medicine she prescribed was developed in the 1950s and is primarily used as a nasal decongestant. As you may know, in the United States when the doctor writes a prescription, she writes a lot of information on the prescription, including what ailment the medicine is supposed to treat.
In the United States, one of the reasons that pharmacists must be highly-trained and licensed is that whenever they fill a prescription, they must evaluate the prescription for potential problems. When I filled the prescription, the pharmacist did her job very well. She saw that the prescription indicated that the medicine was supposed to treat anxiety. Before she filled the prescription, she asked me if the prescription was correct. She asked because for over 20 years, doctors never prescribed that for anxiety. When I took the medicine, it was useless for my symptoms.
In the United States, I would need much more financial support from family, friends, and strangers
If I lived in the United States, all of my medicines would cost much more, my food would cost much more, my housing would cost much more, and everything else would cost much more. Furthermore, despite what some people believe, any assistance from the government would not be enough to compensate for the greatly increased cost of living in the United States.
Right now, I cannot get enough support to pay for medicines that are greatly discounted here in Mexico even when other people are paying for my shelter and my food. If I lived in the United States, and my costs were five times greater than in Mexico, why should I believe that I would get more support from friends, strangers, and family for those significantly higher costs? I cannot even get enough support for these insanely low costs in Mexico, which are effectively made even cheaper because the Mexican peso is very weak against the US dollar.
I desperately need support
Because I am back on the street, I need more support than I needed one week ago. Poverty is expensive. I must spend most of my day:
- trying to find a place to sleep,
- trying to find a bathroom,
- fixing crises that could have been avoided,
- protecting myself from harm,
- protecting my property from theft,
- trying to find food that is affordable and nutritious and does not require any preparation,
- trying to buy medicines,
- trying to acquire the money I need to buy food and medicine, and
- trying to cope with symptoms that cause me to hate being alive.
Every second of every day, I hate the fact that I am alive. I cannot possibly recover without support. If every person who read my website where to send me some money each month, it would radically transform my life. And if people were no longer ashamed or embarrassed to be associated with me, then people could share my story and increase my support.