Catastrophes and Contingencies

Nearly two years ago, I learned my my chronic illness was due to toxic mold exposure in my home. Shortly thereafter, it was determined that the mold, and thus my injuries, were due to HOA negligence. Meanwhile, my partner and I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars–our own, and that borrowed from and gifted by family–to identify the root cause of our ailments and get well.

We were encouraged to seek legal counsel, which we did. However, as we approach the statute of limitation, it’s become clear that no lawyer will take our case on full contingency. It’s too large of a risk for them. To pursue a lawsuit against the HOA without contingency would cost hundreds of thousands more out of our own pocket. We don’t have the money, but it’s too large of a risk for us, even if we did.

In a past life, I would have been devastated by the injustice.

Today, I’m able to let out a deep sigh and then let it go.

What’s the difference? I’ve considered, and perhaps even anticipated, The Worst Case Scenario. Long before the law firm tried to pull a fast one, my partner and I had discussed what we would do if we weren’t able to secure a lawsuit.

We live frugally to support our health. We spend $1,000 per month on our two compounded prescriptions. We spend another $600 per month on our refined regimen of supplements. Then, another $800 per month on organic produce, bulk spices, and pasture-raised and wild-caught proteins. Finally, we average $400 on telemed appointments for practitioners who don’t take insurance. Our household spends $33,600 per year to remain barely functional. Not ideal, but it works.

To afford that, we don’t utilize air conditioning, despite living in Phoenix. With space heaters, slippers, blankets, fans, and running shorts, we can keep out utility bill under $75 per month. We haven’t bought new clothes in years, we don’t go out to eat, and our entertainment entails free walks around the neighborhood or window shopping at Costco. Outside of $5,500 per years for property taxes and HOA dues, savings for retirement, and those darn medical expenses, we don’t really spend money. We can’t.

The Worst Case Scenario is simply continuing our current habits indefinitely, “living like paupers” as my mother-in-law says.

Perhaps the HOA will renege on their agreement to remediate and restore our condo and we’ll be stuck paying for a lemon of a home we can’t live in and can’t sell. Maybe we’ll be stuck living with my in-laws for years to come. It’s possible the HOA will refuse to even partially compensate us for our mold-damaged possessions, and we’ll be back to living as young adults with no furniture beyond a mattress on the floor until we can afford some plywood crap from IKEA. Perhaps, we’ll both relapse and become debilitatingly ill. If the heavy-duty anti-fungal doesn’t work, we’ll keep investigating the issue. If my partner is too ill to start medical school in the fall, we’ll defer; if he’s still too ill come spring, we’ll adapt; I’ll support the household financially while he figures out what’s within his reach.

Aside from having each other, it seems as if my partner and I have been stricken by the worst luck imaginable over the past decade. Everything that can go wrong does. So, we’ve learned to anticipate and adjust. We often talk about our Plan Z. We consider all outcomes and make peace with each one before anything comes to fruition.

In a past life, I was brimming over with positive thinking and affirmations.

Today, I am a realist. When dreams fail to come true, it can be painfully distressing. Thus, I would argue that a healthier approach is to be open to whatever life presents before us, whether “good” or “bad”.

Have you ever spent time exploring The Worst Case Scenario before it arrives? Join us over at The Heart of The Matter to discuss the pros and cons of catastrophized thinking.

18 thoughts on “Catastrophes and Contingencies

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  1. Oh goodness…I should’ve read this post first…I just mentioned my love of ‘worst case’ games as a comment on your Heart of the Matter piece…playing them as a kid in my head to give me courage…and as I popped over here, there it was…your lovely post about doing the same. 😉 Another lovely example of the synergy of blogging buds!
    I like considering all sides, like you, in order to find my way to being open and less stressed as life unfolds. xo, Erin! 💕

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, the synergy of blogging buddies is superb!! A decade ago, I was a hardcore positive thinker and, while that approach has its merits, I think the consideration of less desirable alternatives is incredibly grounding…. really, a good thing. xoxo, Vicki! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Being a realist for most of my life has never really steered me wrong Erin. While I can relate in some ways to your lifestyle (the very lean frugality factor) so much of what you write about seems insurmountable. I continue to be stunned but admiring in your diligence to live in the best possible way that you can and just keep rolling. You and partner epitomize what two humans can do when they set their minds to living alongside adversity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Deb. We’re trying to do our best to keep moving forward. While the outcomes haven’t been perfect, I can say that I’m proud of our efforts and persistence… and I have faith that, in due time, those will lead us where we’re meant to go. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel so badly for all that you’re having to go through. It’s a shame there wasn’t an attorney or organization that would take on your case. But I think you have an outstanding attitude to let it go. Best wishes for improved health for both of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, E.A. It has been a little bit of a disappointment, but I’m sure that we’ll find a way forward. There are a few promising developments on the horizons, so *hopefully* we’ll have better health and a saleable home by the end of the year. Fingers crossed!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This kind of situation gets me thinking that there should be a federally funded/backed program where compensation can be requested or remediation funded. If there were such a program, or people would get a bill proposed to get it started, then HOAs could refer people to get help, or people could apply and supply the necessary documentation to become vetted.

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    1. I fully agree, Tamara! It would be so great to have a resource and funding to help people in need. As it stands, the syete, is terrible. most homeowners/HOA insurances don’t cover mold and won’t because it’s so pervasive and expensive (so liability falls on the homeowner), the legalities in many states are fuzzy when it comes to responsibility, and then “big construction” lobbies senators to prevent protective bills for homeowners/tenants. We’ve talked to our senators, mostly about extending the statute beyond two years to help future sufferers, but they make it sound like their hands are tied. When I have more energy, one of the project I hope to work on is finding ways to help others going through what we’ve been through.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That would be an amazing thing to be able to accomplish on behalf of others! Maybe they need more statistics and the bottom dollar of how much medical resources etc. it is using in their states? Saving their state budget real dollars makes them look like a hero and is good for re-election!! ;-))

        Liked by 1 person

  5. You have a very healthy, balanced and pragmatic perspective on things, Erin. I feel badly for the situation that you are and I also admire your refreshingly Frank and real approach to facing this continued adversity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Ab. Like in Brian’s post today, we often just need to roll with the punches. If the ice breaks beneath our feet, we must choose to swim if we don’t wish to drown. I have high hopes that thing will get better soon… though won’t be devastated if things go sideways.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The title of this post is so apt. What a ride – and you and your partner’s mindset have kept you sane, joyful and even grateful throughout. A powerful testament to how we can surf the waves! May your approach serve you while the future unfolds!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Wynne, I love the analogy of surfing the waves! Thank you!! 💕 I fully believe good things are on their way (though I won’t be upset if they don’t), but I do agree they approach we’ve found will serve us well no matter how things unfold. 💕


  7. You are enduring quite a saga. Hopefully, you find a pathway forward to be done with it. I cannot imagine going through what you both have and not sure if I would have the strength to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Ray! I remember attending Catholic mass as a child and being dumbfounded by some of the struggles others were enduring… though, I think we find the strength when we need it, and we all are faced with our own unique challenges. I think we have some promising developments on the horizon, so we’re hoping we’ll be able to end the year on a high note. Fingers crossed!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m sorry you’ve been suffering. You know, I think many people who are ill are sick from mold and asbestos in older buildings. Add to that our terrible environment and not trusting foods we eat anymore, it’s no wonder there are so many illnesses. Good things will come your way. I believe in FAITH and that God or the Universe puts us through things for a “reason.” I KNOW, why is always the BIG QUESTION, but later we understand the WHY. Wishing you well.

    Liked by 1 person

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