nceraHi, I am Dee, some of you may know me personally or others may have heard my husband John talk about me. Some of you may also know that I am a new starter at Bloomfield Financial, so if ever I pick up the phone don't be alarmed.
I asked John if I could write an article about critical illness insurance. I am aware that John has published some in the past and he has a wealth of knowledge with Critical Illness (I am not just saying that because he is my husband ha-ha).
I wanted to write this article as someone who has been diagnosed with a critical illness so that you can gain a better understanding of what it feels like and first-hand views on how important critical illness insurance is.
I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in November of 2011 when I was just 28 I was admitted to hospital initially with vision problems. They were sudden and so severe that I could not read an eye examination chart, and could not walk without support as my balance was all messed up too.
Being admitted to hospital after just having popped into the GPs expecting a quick appointment was terrifying. What was wrong with me? Was I going to get better? I even remember asking a doctor at one point was I going to die?
The only thought that was running through my mind was that I had a brain tumour and at that point, that was the worst thing.
I was sent to the eye hospital for tests sent for x-rays and given antibiotics as little did I know but I had an infection. I spent a whole weekend in a holding ward before I was transferred to neurology. The consultant came to see me and advised that they would need to order an MRI and CT scan to determine what was going on as well as a lumbar puncture. I had heard of these before but only when I watched ER or Grey's Anatomy, I couldn't believe that it was happening to me.
I went for the MRI on the Tuesday and waited patiently for the results. I knew that I was going to have a lumbar puncture and had poor John on standby for when he needed to come and hold my hand. I was advised that this would be happening on Wednesday afternoon so I waited patiently with John only to be advised by the doctor that she could not do it as the consultant wanted to look at the MRI scans before proceeding. Why could I not have my lumbar puncture and what were they hiding from me, the worry was worse than the symptoms. The poor junior Doctor didn't know what to say to me so went off to find a registrar. When the curtains were pulled around my bed I knew I was going to be told something I didn’t want to hear. 'We believe that you have Multiple Sclerosis'.
To be honest, at that point I did not know what MS was other than I had seen orange posters pinned up around the ward with people in wheelchairs.
I was so glad to have John with me at this point as I didn't know what to think. The Doctors left us alone and we went for a coffee to talk about what had just happened.
I think that we were both in shock as to what had happened, we both thought I was going to get better as we had both been using “Dr Google” to diagnose my problems. How was I going to tell people? My Mam and sister were coming to visit me how was I going to tell them? How had John taken this? Everything was running through my mind and I couldn't quite get my head around it. Would I ever be able to go back to work? Would I need looking after?
When my Mam and sister arrived for visiting time I remember telling my Mam before she had even gotten the chance to take her coat off or sit down. In hindsight that was unfair of me, I think I just wanted someone else to know.
After having the lumbar puncture the next day and talking it through with my consultant I was allowed to go home. Thank Goodness! I felt so sorry for my family, poor John who was having to work, whilst coming in visiting hours two times a day, making sure that I had everything I needed whilst looking after himself and the dog. My Mam and sister who were going out to work on a morning and then coming to visit and see me straight from work. The guilt I felt was immense and that was only going to get worse.
Once home I realised that due to my balance and my eyes getting worse (double vision) I had to rely on John for almost everything. Helping me up on a morning, helping me in and out of the bath, driving me to hospital appointments, walking the dog, doing the shopping, making my meals whilst trying to work at the same time. If he hadn’t worked from home I'm not sure how we could have coped, I'm not 100% sure how we did cope.
My Mam would come to my house on her day off to take me on the bus somewhere as I could not go out alone.
I was 28 years old I was a fully grown woman and was having to be babysat!
My mood lowered as time went on and my eyes did not improve, even with a 3-day course of IV steroids. Was my eye problems going to be permanent? Was I ever going to be independent again? Would I return to work? The DVLA, of course, had also taken my driving licence away when I self-reported my condition.
I only had 6 months full pay and then I would reduce to half, how were we going to cope if I was off long term or if I couldn't return at all. Yes, we had John's income as well but we had a mortgage, bills, a car, and a lifestyle that we had become accustomed to. How were we going to maintain that?
I worried about what life was going to be like, would we have to move home, sell the car. What was the Bloomfield's life going to be like?
In September of the previous year, I and John suffered the loss of our boys Tom and Clark which meant that I gave birth to them stillborn. As my pregnancy had not proceeded as planned I wanted to make sure that there was something in place should something happen to me, and I asked John to arrange some additional Life & Critical Illness Insurance for me.
I am so happy that I did as less than a year later I was going to make a successful claim that would pay out enough to know money was not something I needed to worry about for some time.
What did the money mean for me? It wasn't going to fix my health. But It meant that I could stop worrying about money and focus on getting better. It also meant that when I returned to work I did not have to go back to full-time hours which I never could have coped with due to MS fatigue. It meant that John was not going to have to worry about how he could keep earning money and ensure that I was OK at the same time. He could relax as well.
I was extremely lucky that John was self-employed and worked from home, had he been employed by a big corporate he would have had to go on the sick to look after me and that would have meant our finances were even more stretched.
Life and Critical illness insurance is an important aspect of everyone's lives, and people need to ensure that they have something in place however little it may be, if it happens to you you will be thankful for any financial breathing room you can get. I never thought that I would be paying for a policy for less than a year before I made a claim, I am thankful each day for what I had. If you don’t have any cover please give it some serious thought. If you do please make sure its relevant to you and your lifestyle.