Get Out of Debt Guy

I'm an ER Nurse But Struggling After a Brain Tumor

Posted August 5, 2013

Question

Dear Steve,

I was making about $100,000 year as a registered ER nurse.

I had a tumor close to my brain removed. Became addicted to narcotics, told my work and board of nursing, checked myself into 28 days inpatient and 5 months outpatient 5 days then 3 days last 2 months.

On unemployment extension, not paying: my private loans $61,000 or credit card, at $19,000.

Making payments but just about to avoid first payment in years. And I also have a loan with the treatment center for $3,500.

I also have Sallie Mae at $174 a month for 15 more years I think.

Anyway, you get the idea.

I'm 8 months sober and trying to find a job. Im a great nurse. what can I do?

Discover is my private loan.... They wont work with me, tried, and even faxed them my outpatient records attending 5 days a week.

What do I do??

Thanks,

Jim

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Dear Jim,

Well it certainly seems you've been dealt an unfortunate hand. The good news is you've dealt with the underlying issues and on the mend.

The two uncertain issues here are how has all of this impacted your ability to still be the nurse you were, and, how will it impact your earning power moving forward?

There is no doubt if you were back earning your old salary then we would potentially not be having this conversation. But for some reason, you are struggling to find a new job now. Based solely on how much I had to clean up your question, I'm wondering if the medical situation might have had a lingering impact on your life and if you are 100% back to the old Jim.

It does not appear you are totally disabled so the Sallie Mae available programs are somewhat limited unless your Sallie Mae loans were federally guaranteed. Still, it would be a good idea to read this guide on how to deal with the student loans.

I applaud your positive actions and recognizing you had a problem and checked yourself in. That was a brave and amazingly courageous thing to do.

So let's use that same drive and personal power to deal with the debt.

I think we need to draw a line in the sand at some point in the near future. Let's call it 45 days from now. By that time, if you have been unable to find a job and make your payments we will need to look at dealing with the underlying debt we can eliminate quickly. It's the only way to set you up for future success if the income is not there to make the payments.

You might want to think about some of the temp services for nurses or look farther afield for a new job.

Till that time if you can't afford to make the payments, you can't afford to make them. It is what it is. Missing a payment has consequences like a notation on your credit report, late fees, increased interest rates, etc.

You should look at Benefits.gov to see what other subsidy programs you might qualify for in the meantime. Don't forget to explore your local food bank as well. Every dollar in benefits is a dollar more to help get through the month. If you are entitled to it, get it.

Let's not spend energy looking at the debt right now. Let's invest it in positive energy to hunt for that new job. Doing that can make all the difference in the world.

Steve Rhode
WRAL Get Out of Debt Guy

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About this Blog:

Steve Rhode has had careers in opthalmology, real estate and as the head of a nonprofit debt counseling firm. On his blog, he offers hard-won, free advice about getting out of debt, consolidation and making the right choices as you manage your money.