Tuesday, July 12, 2005

This is the first week of the rest of my life..... 

Well, I just finished putting together info for section 5 of the Social Security Disability form, and I don't feel like starting another section tonight. But it's too early to go to bed because Dan called right after I made supper and I didn't get to eat it until 10pm (I have to stay up at least 3 to 4 hours after a meal). So I'm gonna kill time by playing "catch up" on this here blog.

This is my first full week of life as a permanently disabled person. Not that I'm much different from previous weeks, but now I'm officially without a career or a living wage. I only have a vague notion of what the hell I'm gonna do with the rest of my life. I guess that's something I'll have to take up with a therapist, should I find one. Today, I did grab the business card of a licensed clinical psychologist who shares an office with my endocrinologist. If I don't hear back from my previous therapist before I get done dealing with human resources and the disability insurance company, I will see if the new lady takes my health insurance.

I'm supposed to be getting paperwork in the mail from my (previous) employer's human resources department, but it isn't here yet. It only takes two days to mail, yet I've been waiting six. Not that I'm anxious to complete more paperwork, but I need to find out things like how to get paid for the 30 days of vacation I've earned and what becomes of my 401(K). Plus I want to make sure I get proper credit for the 1 month of short-term disability I still have coming and get properly enrolled in the long-term disability next month.

The LTD company has been trying to reach me by phone, but I've been avoiding them while I'm still trying to get things squared away with HR. This company uses every trick in the book to avoid paying claims, so I'd rather not have to talk to them any more than necessary. I did find a letter sent to me in April that stated if I didn't go back to work last week I'd have to get medical records sent to them from evey doc I've seen since April 15. So I've sent copies of the letter to my rheumatologist and endocrinologist and will get copies to my gastroenterologist and ENT tomorrow. Maybe after I've done that I'll be ready to talk to the annoying LTD rep on the phone.

One very annoying thing I found out is that I'm nowhere near as prepared for filing for SSDI as I thought I was. I had downloaded an "Adult Statrter Kit" from Social Security that supposedly tells you all the info you'll need to file and had that ready to go, but then I got a hold of the actual disabilty form and found out they left a shitload of things out on that "starter kit". For instance, the kit says to list your treating providers and their contact info, but the form wants ALL the docs you've seen since you got sick, even non-traditional practitioners like chiropractors. Plus, for each provider, they want to know WHY you saw them and what treatments were provided. So the 15 docs I had listed per the kit turned into 27 docs I had to list per the form. Another example is that the kit says to list your prescription meds, but the form wants EVERYTHING you take including supplements and over the counter meds. So my list of 16 meds turned into 34 once I added all my vitamins, eyedrops and dry mouth products. As I mentioned, I just finished section five on the form, which means I'm finally over the halfway point! I started working on this thing last Wednesday. Then when I'm done info gathering, I need to make copies of ALL of the medical records I have in my possession. That will take awhile as I've acquired quite a few in the past eight years.

So my application will end up being a mile thick, but I don't know if it will help my case or make things worse. The first three years I was sick, no one was able to figure out what was wrong with me, so I have incorrect diagnoses like conversion disorder and generalized anxiety. That's gonna make the present day stuff seem like an exaggeration. But they have to give my rheumatologist's opinion the most weight, and he's the one who wanted me to go on disability. Plus I have been going to him for five years, and maybe that will negate the earlier stuff?

The irony isn't lost on me how things have changed. For eight years, I've been doing my utmost to keep myself well enough to work. Now all of a sudden I have to present as much evidence as possible that I'm too ill to work and will likely stay that way. If that doesn't f---- up your self image, I don't know what will.

But this business of putting together my application info has at least given me some immediate goals and has kept me getting out of bed each day when I would much rather hide from the world. So I haven't gotten quite as depressed as I was expecting, and I have managed to stay in decent spirits, at least consciously. Sub-consciously, though, I am a mess. I'm having repeated nightmares about what my future holds. Most of these are worries about money....for example, I'll dream that someone totals the car and Dan ends up in the hospital unable to work. Others are dreams of me completely unable to walk or communicate, ignored by the world at large. And the restless sleep is being accompanied by an ever-increasing pain level, which of course makes it even harder to sleep. Grumble.

There's more to all of this, but my hands will not allow much further typing, so I'll stop for now.

"I know God doesn't give me anything I can't handle, but sometimes I wish he didn't trust me so much." --Mother Teresa

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