That was the number that greeted me when I opened the bill from the hospital where my husband gets infusions for his Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I'll admit, my heart lurched a little when I first saw that large number. However, I quickly understood that the bill was sent to us in error. In the past, though, that realization would not have calmed me down. I would have become sick with anxiety. I would have called my husband in a panic, causing him to stress out as well. What I've discovered is that panic is pretty useless to me. In fact, it's quite damaging. All it does is upset me and everyone else around me.
Thanks to CBT, I have learned to have much better control over my anxiety. I feel like I have retrained my body to deal with the adrenaline surge that accompanies panic. CBT has also taught me to have greater awareness of my cognitive distortions. It is easier now for me to counteract the thoughts of, "We'll run out of money, and we'll never be able to eat again, or we're going to lose our house, or, or, or, or . . ."
In addition, I'm learning to live with uncertainty, hard as that is. When I called the hospital to straighten out the bill, to my disappointment, I did not get a definitive answer about why the bill was messed up. I will have to wait to see if the bill is properly taken care of. In retrospect, I'm glad I will have to wait. This is a further exercise in uncertainty. It is another opportunity to trust God and to know that He is in control. In the past, this waiting would have been agonizing for me. I now see this as a training ground for better mental health.
I have no reassurance that this particular bill will be worked out. I could end up owing all of it to the hospital. I may end up having to make payments to the hospital for the rest of my life to cover all of my husband's future medical bills! Then again, I may not. The thing is, I just don't know. I don't know about the bad things that may happen, and I sure don't know about the good things that may happen either. I'm choosing to concentrate on the things I am certain of. Today, I have the tools to fight my anxiety. Today, I have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, clothes on my back, a cat I can cuddle, a family who loves me, and a God who's crazy about me (and you!). I guess you could say that today, I have everything.