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When I was in my early 30’s, I suddenly became very sick. I had just returned from a trip to Brazil to visit my cousin, and I had what I thought was a cold. First, my legs felt weak, which seemed odd. I started having trouble getting up the hill by my apartment, and then I fell in the shower, twice. By the time I called 911, I couldn't walk at all.
I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder that attacks the nervous system, called Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Nobody knows what exactly causes it, but it's associated with different viruses, including influenza. My symptoms became progressively worse, and within a few days I was completely paralyzed.
My disability insurance is what paid me for the next 8-9 months. I had a very long, slow recovery. I was in the hospital for about three weeks, and then an inpatient rehabilitation center for probably two and half months. It took another few months of living with my family before I was strong enough to live on my own and return to work.
Having disability insurance meant financial stability. It prevented me from going backwards financially, which would have been a tough pill to swallow in my early 30’s. I didn’t skip a beat. It’s a pretty overwhelming thing to have a major medical issue and be out of it for months like I was. I was able to focus on my recovery without worrying about where my next paycheck was coming from. Without that insurance, I have no doubt the experience would have been worse.
If there is a silver lining from my illness, its appreciating the fragility of life. After I got better I didn't go out and become a crazy adrenaline junkie. I didn't go and walk across the United States when I recovered. My driving force moving forward is that life is truly precious, and it really doesn’t take much for it to be dramatically changed or altered at any second. I learned to understand the importance of living in the moment and trying to enjoy whatever it is I'm doing.
I've since moved across the country, gotten married, and started a family. Our daughter is growing up, and we recently bought a house, which brings its own kind of pleasures and headaches. There’s a lot going on for everyone all the time, but after what I’ve been through, I know I can handle it.
My advice? Pay attention to all of this stuff. You don’t know when something is going to happen. You just don’t know. I know you think you’re indestructible now and that insurance is maybe something that’s nice to have. It’s not sexy but it’s there for a reason. It’s critical, because that peace of mind - you need it. As you get older and maybe start a family, there are things you’ll be worried about, but you can be proactive about insurance and then remove that from your worry bucket.
Nothing in these materials is intended to be advice for a particular situation or individual. These materials are for general information purposes only.