When the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag started trending, I entertained myself by categorizing my personal issues. It helped me assign an appropriate weight to frivolous problems, but also recognize when something wasn’t trivial. Lately, I feel like I’ve got a host of problems that are defying neat and tidy categories: originating in #FirstWorld, but relevant beyond my upper middle class life.
Our backyard is plagued by rats. They arrived as our street was ripped up to install new sewers and have thrived because of our chicken coop. Chickens provide lovely containers of “rat” food and “rat” water and a handy structure under which to build a rat-opolis.
Compounding the base EEEWWW issue is the fact that our family does not kill things. We’ve allowed the mice family to live on our porch for years; the only one that died mistakenly ran in a screen door left open only to be played with to death by our cat. We capture bugs in the house under cups, and carry them outside rather than squish them. But now we are rat murderers. Two kinds of traps have killed 10 rats this summer, and now our neighbors have decided that exterminators should be called in, and I can’t disagree. The lovely people who live next door are on the brink of moving due to the wife’s hatred of rats, and I worry about the health of my family if there are still rodents running around.
Unquestionably, our rat problem was created by first world sewer replacement and exacerbated by our first world urban farm and will be manged with our first world dollars. However, our infestation has built my empathy for families that keep chickens to provide food for their family, but have no way to manage the pests and, even worse, no way to protect their families from the rodents and the diseases they carry. At least I have a house so the rats are in my yard and not running over my sleeping child.
Like many people, this new presidential administration has me reeling. I’m horrified by the idea of children losing their free lunches at school, threats to our clean air and water, and friends losing health insurance. Underlying all of those worries is a selfish concern about my potential job loss. As someone who works in renewable energy whose job depends on funding from the federal government, I spend many work days figuring out how to save the jobs of my team and myself. No federal budget has been passed yet, and likely won’t anytime soon, so the dark cloud of unemployment looms as budget requests shrink. This unemployment fear is heightened by my fear of Obamacare going away, because if I lose my job who is to say my family will have health coverage?
Granted, my husband has a job, he has health insurance, and we have plenty of savings. I’m better off than many who are already unemployed, don’t have a job and really will have no insurance if Obamacare goes away. As a result, I’m know I’m awful-izing, but the distance between me and a bad financial place are closer than they have ever been, and that’s scary.
As I’ve mentioned before, my husband struggles with depression, and he is in that cycle again. Thankfully we caught it early, and are hoping that early intervention will keep him from entering a downward spiral, but our family’s fears are enlarged when “Daddy isn’t happy.” Also, when daddy isn’t happy the fears of not just my job loss but his job security, pre-existing condition clauses, and poverty become larger than life in his head and in my ears. Mental health impacts all people, regardless of financial standing, and we are so fortunate to be able to get help for him, but I cringe knowing how hard this is for our family, when we are the lucky ones. What do down-on-their-luck families do?
Of course as my husband was admitting his depression to himself and me, I got news of an irregular mammogram. After extra screening – which is super comfortable let me tell you – I’ve been assured that what they found is probably benign, but I have to go back every six months for screening. (Oh, how I’m looking forward to even more super comfy screening.) I’m probably fine, and I’m so lucky to have insurance so that I can get mammograms in the first place, and afford the additional screenings. If anything ends up being a problem we’ll find it early, and for that I am grateful. Other women might not know they have a problem until their sugar crystal sized cysts grew to cancer sized lumps, and even then they might not be able to afford treatment.
That said, I did spend the first few days after my diagnosis facing my eventual death. I’ve got a young daughter I want to see grow up, parents who are still healthy, a book I want to edit, another book to finish writing, stories to get published, and a whole lot of life I still want to live. Oh, and jobs to save, remember those from earlier? The idea of cramming all of that into a few years terrified me, and forced me to think about my priorities. No big changes are happening yet, but I got a smack in the face that I’m not living forever.
So yeah, all of my problems above are #FirstWorldProblems. Angry making, worry inducing, miserable first world problems and I hate every one of them. But we have a rat plan, I do have a job and savings, my husband is getting treatment, and I’m being regularly screened. We are lucky because we’ve had good jobs, our employers provide health insurance, and we’ve managed our money well. Right now things are crappy at the Afthead house, but we will be okay.
While that should make me feel better, it also makes current events going on in this country so much more awful. What about all the people – heck the majority of the people – who are not as fortunate as our white family headed up by two engineers? Who is looking out for them, and making sure that the difficulties life throws at them don’t make them sick, destitute, crazy, or dead? Why doesn’t everyone deserve to be safe from rats, job loss, or mental and physical health issues? For my family’s sake I wish I wasn’t thinking about these questions right now, but for humanity’s sake I wish I had an answer.
9 thoughts on “Which world problems?”
So sorry that you are having such a rough time. If only your empathy for others while facing your own crises could be shared by “the powers that be” in the world.
Sending positive vibes your way ~ except for the rats. No positive vibes for them. They’ve got to go. 😉
LikeLiked by 1 person
Rats are so gross, and I don’t know why. I like mice and rats are just big mice but yeech! Thanks for the good vibes.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I face some similar problems and yes, they are first world problems but everything is relative – they are all still problems that you (and I) have to overcome to function in the society in which we live. That you are also concerned with other people who live in this society who may not have the resources you do is immensely reassuring to me and gives me back some of my faith in humanity that’s been chipped away since the election. I’m deeply disturbed and disappointed that there are people out there who don’t care or think about what happens to others or what can be done to help others. Like you, I’ve been doing what I can to manage my first world problems while also doing what I can to help other people, both of which are a bit more urgent than they were before this administration: we will weather this storm and come out the other side better for it. ❤
LikeLiked by 1 person
Ah, I love that you find optimism in the end of your comment. For me, that’s still not a place I can always get to, so I appreciate the ray of sunshine. Thank you!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I don’t always get to that ray of sunshine either, but when I can I try to spread it around. 🙂
I’m sorry things are not looking wonderful right now! So many things all happening at once, sigh. I’m looking at getting a state job, and with a statistics degree, there are many departments looking for number crunchers. But I’m looking right past all of those departments who may be cut with the new administration – social services, fish & wildlife, education. As hard as it is to get a job with the state (it’s a mental hurdle just to figure out all of the info they want and get it in at the correct time), I only want to do this once! 🙂 And benefits are a big part of looking at the state. I’ve worked for small employers more recently, and insurance is always iffy – they may cut my hours to save paying for insurance.
My solution to it all? Knit knit knit knit knit! ❤
LikeLiked by 1 person
Oh, my goodness. You are so correct! When the world seems to be falling down around me I become a prolific knitter. Just wait what turns up on these pages the next few days. It must be something in our base makeup: if things go wrong, make food and shelter for you and your family.
Good luck with the job hunt, and finding some security crunching numbers for the state.
I’ve always loved #FirstWorldProblems because some are quite amusing and they do give me a reality check. I have anxiety and it is easy for me to take teeny tiny problems and blow them out of proportion. I am also an empath, so I do realize that even with my problems, I am luckier than most. At least I have the resources to deal with my problems… I have a home, a car, food, insurance, money, etc. I see patients every day without those resources and their problems break my heart.
This administration certainly concerns me for a multitude of reasons. I worry about healthcare. My husband has type 1 diabetes. It is expensive even with our good insurance. I stay at a job that is less than ideal to keep that good insurance. And if the preexisting condition protection that Obamacare affords ever disappears, we could be screwed. I also have aging parents on Medicare. I worry about them affording their meds.
All of that aside, this is a great, thought-provoking piece. I’m glad that your extra screening was reassuring and I hope that continues going forward. And good luck to your husband with his treatment.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I can’t imagine how hard it must be to meet with patients who are struggling to make healthcare decisions and struggling financially. I don’t know how you do it.
I’m finding it hard not to slip into an anxiety filled freakout about all the potential ramifications of decisions being made right now. As a result, I have been hesitant to write about the topic, because sometimes my feelings are less than coherent. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. You sound reasonable and yet concerned, so maybe I can pull off that balance too.
I’ve missed you! This space has been hard for me lately, but I’ve missed it too. Hang in there!