Flexing Our Emergency Fund Muscles – Or, “My Wife is NOT a Dancer”

We had to unfortunately use our Emergency Fund

As promised, I’ve got a story to share with you guys.

If you’re a regular reader, you may have noticed that things around here – and on Twitter and Facebook – went a bit quiet earlier this month. There is good reason for that.

The primary reason? My wife is clumsy. Adorable, amazing, intelligent, kind, and caring, yes – but clumsy.

In fact, to claim she’s even average in the coordination department would be a pretty big stretch. Love her as much as I do, I can’t deny that she’s just not the most graceful of people in the world.

And that’s how we went from having a wonderful Saturday morning to soon dealing with a disaster.

A Great Saturday Easter Egg Hunt

We started off Saturday, March 31st with some local neighborhood festivities. Down the street from us, a neighbor was hosting a giant Easter Egg Hunt with all the neighborhood kiddos – and there are quite a few.

Despite not having kids of our own, Kristin and I decided to attend. It was exciting because it was one of the first neighborhood events we’ve had since we moved in October. Certainly it’d be a great day to meet our neighbors.

If for some reason that sucked, we figured we could steal a few free donuts the hosting family had purchased and then bail. Because let’s be real, who says no to free donuts?

Unfortunately – but unsurprisingly…this is Minnesnowta after all – the weather the day before had not cooperated. There was new snow on the ground, and some rain that had turned into ice as well. Sidewalks were slick as we trekked down the street to our neighbor’s house, and we took extra care to watch where we were walking.

Regardless, Kristin and I were both super excited to socialize at least a little bit.

Things turned out great, and we had a blast meeting all of our neighbors and seeing a few we knew. It was good to finally meet our neighbors whose cars I’d helped push to their driveways in the snow storms earlier in the winter.

Events Migrated – And Then Turned Terrible

Once things were winding down with the Easter Egg Hunt, most people went back home. A couple that lives across the street from us – we’ll call them Peter and Lois (because I was watching Family Guy earlier) – invited us back to their house.

We didn’t know each other well but had chatted for a good portion of the morning. Peter and I had our fair share of waves as we were shoveling throughout the winter, but this was the first extended interaction we had with them.

Peter and Lois have a few kids who did the Easter Egg Hunt earlier, and two awesome doggos. Kristin and I love dogs, so naturally we wanted to hang out with them. When we got there, we took off our shoes – after all, it was snowy and icy outside – and were just in our socks. Kristin was wearing particularly fuzzy socks that day since they are super comfortable.

As I was playing with their two dogs, Kristin was dancing in the kitchen (with hardwood floors) with one of Peter and Lois’s daughters.

And then, out of the corner of my eye, I see it happen. The terrible combination of clumsy wife, extra fuzzy socks, and clean, slick hardwood floors combined into some twisted Murphy-Darwin lovechild of a situation.

Kristin falls and lands on her face. I knew immediately it was not the kind of fall that’s funny and you laugh off.

Nope, it was the kind of fall that happens when you can’t get your hands out in front of your face. The kind of fall that leaves a pool of blood on the floor as you scramble to go to the bathroom. The kind of fall that you know is going to mean a trip to Urgent Care and you just hope doesn’t mean a broken nose.

Disaster.

The (Gruesome) Prognosis

Kristin got up immediately and went to the bathroom – she knew something was wrong. Paper towels were quick on the scene, and I went into the bathroom to make sure she was okay.

She claimed she was – she wasn’t. There was blood everywhere.

As Kristin pulled the paper towel away from her bloody lip so I could look, I recoiled a bit. A chunk of her lip was flat out missing.

It wasn’t a small bit – it was about the width of at least one of my fingers, all the way down to the bottom of her lip line on her bottom lip. It wasn’t split open – it was literally just…gone.

And, she had chipped three teeth pretty badly.

We walked home, paper towels to bloody lip, and got our things in order.

Kristin is super good at keeping everything important nice and organized. She knew right where her insurance cards were, which saved us some time. If you don’t know where yours are, do yourself a favor and find them immediately. Having things ready to go helped keep our stress levels down, all things considered.

While she was getting all of that stuff together, I called – and texted – a local dentist our neighbor had recommended. There was nothing he could do over the weekend, and we obviously had to get the lip taken care of first anyway.

So, off to urgent care we went to get that lip looked at…

A Quick Urgent Care Visit

We got to the Urgent Care facility near us after a short 5 minute drive. The great thing about living out near the middle of nowhere is that wait times are pretty much non-existent. By the time we were getting ready to sit down, they called Kristin into the first room for a quick diagnosis.

After looking at her lip for maybe a minute, they brought her and me back to another room while we waited for a doctor and an EMT. While we were waiting, a nurse came in and got Kristin’s insurance information. A separate nurse applied a local anesthetic gel to Kristin’s lip to help with the pain. Fun fact: it apparently had cocaine in it.

The anesthetic needed about 20 minutes to fully kick in, so we just waited in the room by ourselves for a while. Kristin was still hanging in there – in pain, but mostly hopped up on adrenaline and just stressing out and feeling bad about the whole situation.

The doctor came in, assessed the lip, and gave us the bad news: she could sew the lip up, but given how badly it was damaged, it was likely she’d need plastic surgery. Still, it needed to be stitched up to stop the bleeding.

Six stitches later, we walked out with a few prescriptions and drove to the pharmacy to get her situated.

While we were at the pharmacy, Kristin sent a text to her boss – no way was she coming in on Monday, and who knows how long it’d be until she was back at work. At least if she was on the pain meds it was unlikely she’d be coherent enough anyway.

That pretty much wrapped up our eventful Saturday, and shortly after we got home, Kristin went to bed.

Normally Sundays are our meal prep days and we clean in the mornings, too. Obviously that wasn’t going to happen. Sunday turned into mostly a rest and recoup day, as we figured out how to deal with all that needed to be done to get things back to normal.

Step one? Get those teeth looked at.

Dentist Visits on Dentist Visits on Dentist Visits

Monday morning rolls around and even though the dentist opens at 9, I called at 8:20. I figured people probably get in early, so maybe there’s a hope?

My intuition was right – and we got there around 8:45. They took Kristin’s dental insurance information and then did the whole gamut of examinations – x-rays, photos, more x-rays…all the fun stuff.

Unfortunately, there was extremely little they could do that day because the lip was still swollen. They did, however, put a small temporary cap on one of the chipped teeth to help protect it. Hey, it’s something…

We had many more visits over the next several days. As luck would have it, one time they saw us – on Monday the 9th, after the swelling was down – one of their afternoon appointments canceled. Wanting to just get things rolling, we went back in.

We ended up back in the dentist office at least four or five more times. Honestly I’ve lost count, but we’re definitely regulars there now. In fact, we even got to choose our own music to be played while we were there one time.

And, in case you’re wondering – Lindsey Sterling all the way.

I will spare you the details on each visit, but here’s what it ended up looking like with the dentist:

  • A few root canals
  • A few crowns
  • 1 rebuilt tooth

If you guys didn’t know, most dental insurance has annual maximum benefit amounts. This means they will cover procedures, but only up to a certain dollar amount. After that? You’re on your own. Some plans cover as little as $500 – thankfully Kristin’s will cover more than that, but we’re still expecting everything to cost a few grand, easily.

Cha-fuckin-ching.

Compared to the urgent care visit at less than $400, this is obviously a much more significant hit to our emergency fund.

But hey, sometimes you have to pay a bit for a good smile. Just ask my parents how much my teeth cost!

Oh Yeah, Work…

I’ll keep this part short, but suffice it to say that our work situations have been incredibly accommodating.

Kristin got a full work-from-home set up that I picked up for her so that she didn’t have to burn her PTO. Her role typically doesn’t allow this, but they got her what she needed without question and let her work from home as long as she wanted to.

My work was also incredibly flexible. I’ve worked from home on Fridays for a while now, and I didn’t want to abuse the system. But my supervisor told me to take care of Kristin and work remote as much as I needed. It has been extremely helpful to be able to be here to help take care of Kristin, especially when she was hopped up on Percocet.

Still Recovering

Things are finally getting back to normal now. Kristin can eat a bit more normally again (though she still doesn’t have her permanent crowns in; those aren’t until next Wednesday) and she is working on talking more normally.

Between the fake teeth and the lip – which is now pretty much healed, and probably won’t require plastic surgery after all – Kristin’s speech has been challenging. Her lip line actually changed because of the missing parts, and that means re-teaching herself how to talk.

Once permanent crowns are on in a week or so, it should be pretty smooth sailing. An ongoing process, but all of the intensive stuff should be behind us.

What We Learned

Despite all the disaster, we learned a few key things.

  1. Your emergency fund has a job. When you’re dealing with a crisis, in the moment, its job is to relieve stress. Throughout the entire thing I thought about money for about two seconds and then thought “I am so happy we have an emergency fund.” The last thing I wanted to do was think about how much this endeavor was going to cost – and believe me, it’s expensive, even with insurance.
  2. Having an emergency fund is great, but knowing where your insurance cards are and where to go to seek emergency care is also incredibly important. Honestly I had personally overlooked this. Thankfully Kristin’s insurance is pretty wide open so the urgent care facility closest to us is in-network. Scrambling to find something that is covered to the maximum amount your insurance allows isn’t something you want to figure out mid-crisis. If you don’t know where you can go for emergency and urgent care, find out today.
  3. We are incredibly fortunate for very flexible and accommodating work arrangements. I’ve had a few jobs in my day, but none have been amazing from a culture perspective as the one I have right now. You’ll often hear that no employer cares about you, but I’ve not found that to be true.
  4. Shit happens, but there’s almost always a positive spin to it. In Kristin’s case, while she’s having some (now minor) speech issues, she’ll get some new teeth that are whiter!

There’s no doubt that the 31st was a terrible day for us, but it could have been a lot worse.

It’ll still be a while before things are back to normal with speaking and eating. Kristin’s smile may never be the same (but I still love it), and I have the mental scarring of seeing her filed-down teeth forever in my brain (hahah kidding Kristin!).

But through it all, we’ve kept our spirits up as best we can and are just taking things a day at a time.

On the bright side, the money was the least of our worries. When disaster strikes, that’s exactly how you want it.

That is the peace of mind a solid emergency fund brings.

Question:

Have you had to use your emergency fund?

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8 Comments

  1. Oh my God, and this story started out with egg hunting and Easter! You did an excellent job lulling me into safety and I knew it was something drug, cocaine-y already!

    I’m so glad Kristin is alright and you two are set up amazingly to deal with this. I’m not going to laugh when my husband trips down the stairs now… wrong angle and bam, hospital trip.

    Which reminds me…where in the world of my insurance card..crap….

    *All hail emergency fund!!!*

  2. Wow Dave, quite a story. Glad she’s feeling better. I’ve had some recent dental work done too and the annual max our insurance pays is $1,000 per person and it costs almost $60 per month for 2 people. I’m always reminded of that article about how most people in the US would need to charge or sell something to pay a $400 dental bill. Crazy. Glad you had the foresight to have it covered.

  3. Wow what a story! So sorry you had to go through this, and poor Kristen! But thank goodness it all worked out the way it did. This is exactly the kind of thing an emergency fund is there for. So… I guess you won’t be besties with Peter & Lois anymore? :/ Hoping all is back to its wonderful normalness soon.

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