Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rave of the Day for September 30, 2008: 

This is a video diary of a trip Stephen Wiltshire made to New York...

Bonus Rave of the Day for September 30, 2008: 

The following is from Michael Moore's newsletter. Thank God I'm not the only one alarmed about the financial execs getting away with murder....


Let me cut to the chase. The biggest robbery in the history of this country is taking place as you read this. Though no guns are being used, 300 million hostages are being taken. Make no mistake about it: After stealing a half trillion dollars to line the pockets of their war-profiteering backers for the past five years, after lining the pockets of their fellow oilmen to the tune of over a hundred billion dollars in just the last two years, Bush and his cronies -- who must soon vacate the White House -- are looting the U.S. Treasury of every dollar they can grab. They are swiping as much of the silverware as they can on their way out the door.

No matter what they say, no matter how many scare words they use, they are up to their old tricks of creating fear and confusion in order to make and keep themselves and the upper one percent filthy rich. Just read the first four paragraphs of the lead story in last Monday's New York Times and you can see what the real deal is:

"Even as policy makers worked on details of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it.

"Financial firms were lobbying to have all manner of troubled investments covered, not just those related to mortgages.

"At the same time, investment firms were jockeying to oversee all the assets that Treasury plans to take off the books of financial institutions, a role that could earn them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees.

"Nobody wants to be left out of Treasury's proposal to buy up bad assets of financial institutions."
Unbelievable. Wall Street and its backers created this mess and now they are going to clean up like bandits. Even Rudy Giuliani is lobbying for his firm to be hired (and paid) to "consult" in the bailout.

The problem is, nobody truly knows what this "collapse" is all about. Even Treasury Secretary Paulson admitted he doesn't know the exact amount that is needed (he just picked the $700 billion number out of his head!). The head of the congressional budget office said he can't figure it out nor can he explain it to anyone.

And yet, they are screeching about how the end is near! Panic! Recession! The Great Depression! Y2K! Bird flu! Killer bees! We must pass the bailout bill today!! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Falling for whom? NOTHING in this "bailout" package will lower the price of the gas you have to put in your car to get to work. NOTHING in this bill will protect you from losing your home. NOTHING in this bill will give you health insurance.

Health insurance? Mike, why are you bringing this up? What's this got to do with the Wall Street collapse?

It has everything to do with it. This so-called "collapse" was triggered by the massive defaulting and foreclosures going on with people's home mortgages. Do you know why so many Americans are losing their homes? To hear the Republicans describe it, it's because too many working class idiots were given mortgages that they really couldn't afford. Here's the truth: The number one cause of people declaring bankruptcy is because of medical bills. Let me state this simply: If we had had universal health coverage, this mortgage "crisis" may never have happened.

This bailout's mission is to protect the obscene amount of wealth that has been accumulated in the last eight years. It's to protect the top shareholders who own and control corporate America. It's to make sure their yachts and mansions and "way of life" go uninterrupted while the rest of America suffers and struggles to pay the bills. Let the rich suffer for once. Let them pay for the bailout. We are spending 400 million dollars a day on the war in Iraq. Let them end the war immediately and save us all another half-trillion dollars!

I have to stop writing this and you have to stop reading it. They are staging a financial coup this morning in our country. They are hoping Congress will act fast before they stop to think, before we have a chance to stop them ourselves. So stop reading this and do something -- NOW! Here's what you can do immediately:

1. Call or e-mail Senator Obama. Tell him he does not need to be sitting there trying to help prop up Bush and Cheney and the mess they've made. Tell him we know he has the smarts to slow this thing down and figure out what's the best route to take. Tell him the rich have to pay for whatever help is offered. Use the leverage we have now to insist on a moratorium on home foreclosures, to insist on a move to universal health coverage, and tell him that we the people need to be in charge of the economic decisions that affect our lives, not the barons of Wall Street.

2. Take to the streets. Participate in one of the hundreds of quickly-called demonstrations that are taking place all over the country (especially those near Wall Street and DC).

3. Call your Representative in Congress and your Senators. (click here to find their phone numbers). Tell them what you told Senator Obama.

When you screw up in life, there is hell to pay. Each and every one of you reading this knows that basic lesson and has paid the consequences of your actions at some point. In this great democracy, we cannot let there be one set of rules for the vast majority of hard-working citizens, and another set of rules for the elite, who, when they screw up, are handed one more gift on a silver platter. No more! Not again!

Michael Moore

P.S. Having read further the details of this bailout bill, you need to know you are being lied to. They talk about how they will prevent golden parachutes. It says NOTHING about what these executives and fat cats will make in SALARY. According to Rep. Brad Sherman of California, these top managers will continue to receive million-dollar-a-month paychecks under this new bill. There is no direct ownership given to the American people for the money being handed over. Foreign banks and investors will be allowed to receive billion-dollar handouts. A large chunk of this $700 billion is going to be given directly to Chinese and Middle Eastern banks. There is NO guarantee of ever seeing that money again.

P.P.S. From talking to people I know in DC, they say the reason so many Dems are behind this is because Wall Street this weekend put a gun to their heads and said either turn over the $700 billion or the first thing we'll start blowing up are the pension funds and 401(k)s of your middle class constituents. The Dems are scared they may make good on their threat. But this is not the time to back down or act like the typical Democrat we have witnessed for the last eight years. The Dems handed a stolen election over to Bush. The Dems gave Bush the votes he needed to invade a sovereign country. Once they took over Congress in 2007, they refused to pull the plug on the war. And now they have been cowered into being accomplices in the crime of the century. You have to call them now and say "NO!" If we let them do this, just imagine how hard it will be to get anything good done when President Obama is in the White House. THESE DEMOCRATS ARE ONLY AS STRONG AS THE BACKBONE WE GIVE THEM. CALL CONGRESS NOW.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Rave of the Day for September 29, 2008: 

Stephen Wiltshire draws Tokyo from memory....

Bonus Rave of the Day for September 29, 2008: 

Tacky, somewhat offensive, but totally hilarious. Thanks to Dr. Karen for the link....

The Great Schlep from The Great Schlep on Vimeo

Gotta admit, I LOVE Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on SNL! She even has the accent down.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rave of the Day for September 28, 2008: 

This Stephen Wiltshire video is called "Extraordinary People"....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rave of the Day for September 27, 2008: 

Video of ABC naming Stephen Wiltshire "Person of the Week"....

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bonus Rave of the Day for September 26, 2008: 

Posted a video about Stephen Wiltshere before, but I recently saw an hour-long program about him on BBC America that blew my mind. If I ever get to London, I'm definitely gonna check out his art gallery in person.

In the meantime, videos will have to suffice. Here's the one I originally posted....

And here's some bonus footage of the Rome panorama....

Here's a site all about him....
The Stephen Wiltshire Gallery - Drawings, paintings and prints

I will post videos documenting trips to other cities in future Raves....

Rave of the Day for September 26, 2008: 

Hilarity courtesy of Robert....

I also find the Photoshopped pic of Palin in a star-spangled bikini holding a rifle to be quite amusing....

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rave of the Day for September 25, 2008: 

In case you missed it when it aired, here's a hilarious skit from SNL:

Saturday Night Live Michael Phelps Diet

Believe it or not, I actually became a fan on his Facebook page, along with 1.5 million other people of course. Fun stuff on there.

Have lots of stuff for future Raves if I ever get around to them. Have been editing pix from earlier this year and making photo albums on Facebook. Eventually, I do plan to write those movie reviews I promised during the summer.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I survived the appointment.... 

Actually, it went better than I expected. This rheumatologist didn't challenge the findings of Mayo or my Denver docs, so that was a huge relief as I didn't have to spend the entire appointment proving my case.

She did not like that I was on Imuran. She didn't think I was sick enough to warrant that, but since it is helping, she's willing to leave me on it for the time being. She did warn, though, that I will have to do monthly blood work to monitor my liver, which I agreed to.

She was pretty blunt about the fact that if I'm still this sick after 11 years and a ton of treatments, there's very little chance of me reversing current damage or improving my fibromyalgia symptoms significantly. I know some patients would be upset by that, but I appreciated the honesty because I know it's true, and I'd rather hear that than be fed that nonsense about exercise being a cure for me (if that were true, I would have been cured in 1997).

That being said, we agreed the goal in my case was to prevent further deterioration, which is something much more realistic. I assured her that, despite my poor tolerance for exercise, I would continue my program of aquacise three days a week and a home glider machine three days a week, and she was impressed by this.

She was pretty puzzled by the edema in my left foot, a condition I've had consistently for five years. When it gets bad, everything from the knees down on both sides swells up.

She inspected one of my fingernails really closely, which no one's ever done before (tho other docs have noted they look unhealthy). I think she was checking to see if I had damage from my Raynaud's??

We talked about maybe doing an MRI on my low back at some point as the pain there is growing steadily worse. First she wants to dig up my old x-rays to see for herself how much degeneration I have in the discs (I already know there is some).

I was careful not to push too much on the disability support issue as it is something that scares a lot of docs off. I did let her know that I've been unable to work for over three and a half years and that my Denver rheumy had been the one to handle my disability paperwork in the past. I do plan on my next visit to ask her if she will take over that task.

The best part is that I am going to be allowed to stay on my current treatment regimen and that she will let me get check-ups every four months (the rheumatologists here are very overburdened and see a lot of their patients once a year only). I need to keep the visits relatively frequent to make sure my documentation is current should Social Security or my long-term disability insurance company want to look at it.

I'm sure I will be more excited about the outcome once I've had some sleep (crashing on the couch after the appointment for two hours doesn't count, heh heh). For now, I'm mainly just relieved it's over.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Nervous about Monday appointment.... 

Been waiting nine months to get in to see a new rheumatologist. This will make number four in Sioux Falls; there are only five in the whole city, so this one reallllly needs to work out. Weird....all the months I was waiting, I was impatient, and now that I'm finally gonna get in, I am dreading this like crazy.

The first three rheumys I saw in Sioux Falls were all a-holes, so there's plenty of reason for my trepidation. I was told lovely things, like: I couldn't have Sjogren's with negative bloodwork (untrue), I could be cured of my fibromyalgia with exercise (untrue), and that my arthritis was not caused by autoimmune disease but by old age (I'm only 44!). Also, all three told me that neither Sjogren's nor fibromyalgia is ever disabling even though I've had to be on disability since January 2005.

I am due for review by Social Security, and I must have the support of a credible rheumatologist plus documentation. But how do you get the support of a doc who's never seen you before? Especially when another doc in the same office basically dismissed me as another "lazy" fibro patient (her words, not mine).

I'm afraid I'm gonna go in there all hostile because I've had such horrible experiences from the other docs. I tend to get defensive sometimes when there is no reason to be. But I don't want to get humiliated yet again, either.

I am sooo afraid I'm gonna screw this up. I could easily lose my Social Security benefits if this doc sides with the quacks and decides there's nothing much wrong with me. I mean, I would love to go back to work, but it's pretty much impossible no matter how much I want it.

Ack. I'm rambling because I don't want to go to bed and not sleep. There are very few things in this world that freak me out, but having my health and entire financial future depend on the opinion of someone who doesn't know me is scary as hell.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rave of the Day for September 15, 2008: 

I thought this was hysterically funny! Thanks to Dr. Karen for the link....

Michael Palin for President

Trying to recover from an overly busy day yesterday. Apparently, regular church services, a two hour church orientation meeting and dinner at the in-laws' house is wayyy too much for me to handle.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rave of the Day for September 12, 2008: 

Ducky sent me this amusing article about the playground tactics of politics. Written by Paul Reiser....

Yeah -- You and Whose Army?

Watched the "Nightline" interview with Sarah Palin. She was appalling, and the only thing I liked about it was that Charles Gibson kept digging at her for answers, which he only occasionally got.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rave of the Day for September 11, 2008: 

My latest book review for But You Don't Look Sick has been posted. This one is about sleep science....
The Promise of Sleep

Still have three completed books I want to review at some point, and a few products to review as well. And I want to get back to those DVR movie reviews I started months ago. But first, I'm tidying up the command center, finishing up some projects before the carpenter gets back to work on putting the basement back together (which should be in a few weeks I hope).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bonus Rave of the Day for September 10, 2008 

Come watch the trailer for the new Michael Moore movie entitled "Slacker Uprising". You will be able to download the entire movie for free on September 23rd if you sign up!


I don't usually go for putting lengthy items on my computer, but I'll make an exception this time. The price is certainly right, heh heh.

P.S. Thanks to Ducky for alerting me to this.

Rave of the Day for September 10, 2008: 

I received this in an e-mail from Dan's aunt. I don't know the original author. I did verify the data in it on Snopes, which provided some additional info:
Why Women Should Vote

This is the story of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive.

Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

(Lucy Burns)
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

(Dora Lewis)
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.

Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

(Alice Paul)
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.


So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because- -why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The
right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'

HBO released the movie on video and DVD. I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing,but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know.

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote Democratic, Republican or independent party - remember to vote.

History is being made.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

What are YOUR happy places? 

Was perusing Ricky Buchanan's Journeying/Journaling (also on my Links list) and came across this entry about listing your top 10 "happy places":

The happy places not-a-meme

This seems a particularly good idea for those with chronic illness because it is sometimes our only means of "escape" from the stress of being unwell. Ok, so maybe we don't really escape in the literal sense, but we can get distracted enough to have decreased pain, blood pressure and other benefits, and what's wrong with that?

Since I've been feeling particularly lousy lately, I figure a mental vacation in the form of making a list couldn't hurt. Here's what I came up with:

1. Music! It's not for nothing that I have nine days' worth of songs in my iTunes. Plenty of variety....some of it danceable even if my actual dancing happens mostly in my head, some of it cathartic, some of it poetic, and some of it just plain mindless. Today, so far I have listened to Atreyu, Avenged Sevenfold, Dio, Metallica, Christopher Cross, Bob Dylan, Harry Chapin, Green Day, James Brown, George Clinton, The Drifters, Earth Wind & Fire and I forget what else.

2. Movies! I like going to the theatre, but that's pretty much out of the question most of the time, so I have turned to DVDs and recording stuff off of Turner Classic Movies, which still provides plenty of good stuff. I'm averaging probably five films a week. I find the older movies interfere less with my cognitive dysfunction, but I am willing to devote some energy to something newer off of Netflix about once a week. And when I am too brain-fried to follow something I haven't seen before, I will grab a comedy out of my DVD collection and watch it again. Tonight, I'm gonna finish watching "Sylvia Scarlett" with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

3. Books, when I am up to reading. Fiction is an awesome happy place, especially when I am visiting Hogwart's or Maine or Middle Earth. I can lose entire hours with my nose in a good book.

4. Taking photographs when I am in the "zone", meaning those increasingly rare times when I have no tremor shaking the camera, no extreme fatigue keeping me from taking my time getting the right shot, no major limitations in getting to the area I want to photograph. Ok, so that situation hasn't occurred in a few years, but I still have moments from time to time when I'm taking pix and don't notice how much I'm hurting until I'm done. Editing pix isn't quite as much fun but still entertaining. Oh, and I get quite pleased with myself anytime I am able to produce cute and clever scrapbook pages.

5. Visiting anyplace with a beach, particularly if it exists in Hawaii. Bonus points for sunsets on a beach. Having always lived in landlocked states, it's always an awesome realization that, hey, this is an OCEAN washing up on my feet. Or at least the Gulf of Mexico.

6. Mountains, particularly if they happen to be the Rocky Mountains. There's a high, flat rock within a short distance of my grandparent's cabin in Colorado (elevation of approximately 9000 feet, I think) where I used to sit and eat something and maybe write a poem. I could see all sorts of snow-covered peaks in the distance, hear the creek in the valley below and the whisper of the trees and the whirring of hummingbirds. The sun when it was out would feel especially close, and the pines would have a tasty scent. Even though lots of people have been there besides me, I think of it as my spot.

7. Writing when I'm in the "zone", meaning those increasingly rare times when I can easily complete sentences without losing my train of thought, come up with intelligent metaphors, and translate exactly what's in my head through my fingers and onto the computer screen without garbling it. Those times when I still feel smart and that I have something worthwhile to say. Those times when something I wrote inspires, amuses or educates someone. Those times when I can claim to be a writer without feeling like I am exaggerating.

8. Holding hands with my husband. It doesn't matter where: at church, in the movie theatre, at home on the couch, in bed as we fall asleep. This is extremely important to me, particularly when I am in too much pain for putting my head on his shoulder. Long hugs are also especially awesome.

9. Hugging Chip D. Dog. His fur is sooooo soft. Even when he was a squirmy puppy, he would hold still when I hugged him. And when he hugs me in his own way by leaning on me.

10. Laughing. It is essential to my life that I laugh as it is the best coping mechanism I have. Just about any source will work: funny movies, funny websites, e-mailed jokes, stand up comics, bad puns exchanged with Dan. And it doesn't hurt that I am easily amused, heh heh.

Hmmmm. Here I thought I would have trouble coming up with 10, and now I realize I could probably add 10 more, like chai tea, Indian food and "Lost" on TV. Guess I'm happier than I thought.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Yet another failed med trial.... 

A month ago, I visited the primary care doc's office because I had had enough of off-the-chart pain days and sledgehammers of fatigue. I agreed to try a Flector patch for pain and Ritalin for fatigue. The verdict is in.

The pain patches had adhesive similar to that of Icy Hot patches, which was cool because unlike most adhesives, I didn't have any skin reaction to these. And they could be worn anywhere you hurt. They were huge, though, so I confined them to my low back and between the shoulders.

While they worked well, the research I found only referenced acute injuries like sprains. No data on long-term use. So I think I'll limit these to my I-can't-stand-it-another-minute pain days.

The Ritalin was much more complicated. It's a drug with potential for abuse and had a huge list of side effects, so I began with the smallest dose. I've had some pretty gnarly reactions to meds in the past, so caution wasn't without merit.

The first day was great: I felt not tired, not wired, but NORMAL, or what I can vaguely recall normal to be. And I seemed to have an easier time than usual concentrating. But it went downhill starting with day two.

First, the headaches started up. Then the nausea kicked in, more than the usual daily nausea, I mean. This was so bad that I very nearly hurled in the aquacise pool on multiple occasions.

But the real uh oh moment was when I got the tremors/tics/muscle spasms from Hades. This is pretty much the kiss of death for me taking a med. But I was so desperate for relief from the damned fatigue that I persisted in the faint hope that the side effects would be only temporary.

Alas, not only did the twitching, nausea etc. persist, it got worse. One day last week, Dan told me that the right side of my face was twitching, and I was feeling so twitchy all over that I couldn't even tell. And then one night last week, my legs started contorting so badly with spasms that I found myself in an epsom salt bath in tears waiting for the muscle cramps to stop so that I might get a little sleep.

And as the side effects worsened, the Ritalin had less and less of an effect on my fatigue. I declared a truce on Friday. The time had come to wean off and try to deal without it.

Well, going off a med when you're already in a flare SUCKS. But so does giving yourself brain damage with a med that isn't helping much. Even so, it ended up being a lllllongggg ass weekend.

For whatever reason, the tremor/tic/twitching thing got worse before it got better. I was flinging kitchen utensils, bars of soap, pens, etc. all over the place. And the slightest thing could cause violent muscle cramping, like turning my head to the left, straightening my leg out in front of me, reaching for something in the fridge, etc.

As the spasms began to die down (they're not done yet, though), my pain level began climbing as all my muscles had become EXTREMELY sore from the over-exertion. I hit that 10-out-of-10, can't do anything but cry, wishing I was unconscious level yesterday. I know from experience, though, that there's nothing to do for it but wait it out.

And of course there was the inevitable increase in exhaustion. The kind where it's actually painful to be awake. Fell asleep on the couch for two hours this afternoon, but it made no difference whatsoever.

Luckily, I've gone through this sort of thing enough times to know that I should improve quite a bit over the next day or two. I was already feeling like shit before I started Ritalin, so I know there's probably a limit to how much better I'll get without it, but I am hoping I'll at least get out of crisis mode.

At the moment, though, I am weepy and weak and bummed.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Positive development with a still uncertain outcome..... 

Been meaning to post about this for several days but kept getting distracted. The excitement I initially felt faded pretty fast as I began to realize that this has very little impact on my daily life, at least it won't for a very long time. And the higher I get my hopes, the more they could be crushed.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, when organizing my medical records from the Mayo Clinic, it occurred to me that I hadn't heard from my lawyer in at least six months regarding my case against the long term disability insurance company that terminated my benefits last October. I thought it odd that I'd received no response from the company about my filing suit, so I checked into it.

Last week, the lawyer finally got back to me. Turns out my lawsuit had never been submitted! I was pissed at first, but that turned to gratitude when I found out why.

Over the summer, there was a significant case ruled upon by the Supreme Court regarding long term disability insurance companies and denial of benefits. Now, I didn't quite understand all the legalese, but the general idea was that the burden of proof of the validity of a claim was shifted from mostly the claimant to the claimant and insurance company being roughly equal. In other words, a claimant's evidence of disability must be given more consideration.

In the past, the insurance company could choose (and usually did choose) to ignore valid medical evidence of disability and pay a so-called expert of their own choosing to contradict those findings in order to facilitate a denial of benefits. That's what happened to me. The Supreme Court found this to be a conflict of interest.

Knowing the Supreme Court's ruling was forthcoming, my lawyer chose to hold off on filing my suit, and it's a good thing he did, because any case filed before the ruling is subject to the old law that heavily favors the insurance companies. He will be filing my lawsuit sometime in the next few weeks. And he will be citing the ruling of MetLife v Glenn when arguing that I had more than substantial proof of significant disability which was capriciously disregarded by my insurance company.

I found a summary of the ruling on a message board:
Disability Insurance Forums: Positive developments
To clarify, my case does fall under ERISA.

One unknown is whether the local court in Denver will interpret this ruling to mean that anyone paid by an insurance company to perform an "independent medical exam" is suspect. If so, it could lead to a discovery process regarding the background of these examiners, how many denials they recommend, how much they get paid, etc. This would be good news for me as the folks who did my neuropsych exam and my functional capacity exam are already famous in Colorado, even nationally, for stating that every single claimant they examine is capable of working no matter how severe their impairment.

But while this news is exciting, it also means that my lawsuit has not even started yet and will not likely be resolved anytime soon; in fact, I could still be a couple of years away from a decision. And even if the burden of proof has shifted to 50/50, I still have those horrible "mental impairment" and "self-reported symptom" limitations in my contract, and a judge could take one look at those and throw my case right out. It also does not help whatsoever that I did go to three rheumatologists last year who said neither Sjogren's syndrome nor fibromyalgia are ever disabling.

I just hope that a judge will give more weight to the opinions of my excellent rheumatologists in Denver and the Mayo Clinic as it is highly unlikely that all three of them could be wrong. Also, Social Security found me disabled, and their criteria is extremely strict. And if a judge would allow discovery on those bogus "independent medical exams", it would become obvious that the insurance company was engaging in fraudulent termination of benefits.

The best case scenario would of course be that the insurance company decides it's not gonna be worth their time to fight me in court and just settle to get me out of their hair. They may do that anyway when they see my lawyer's name on the suit. They have lost many times to this man in the 27 years he's been practicing law.

For now, though, I'm trying to not get my hopes up too much because I need to focus on how I'm going to survive financially without those benefits, either temporarily or permanently. It has been pretty rough going since October, and if I start counting on a settlement or reinstatement of benefits, I will not be prepared emotionally or financially to cope should things not work out in my favor. Even if I do get a settlement eventually, I'm going to have to make that last me until retirement age, which is still 23 years away, so I'm never going to be a rich woman.

But I am pleased the situation is no longer as dire as it once was. And even if it doesn't work out for me, the Supreme Court ruling will probably result in justice for lots of disabled people who would otherwise be out of luck.

Wish it wasn't such a waiting game, though.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Rave of the Day for September 1, 2008: 

A little personality quiz for fun. Here are the instructions via Dr. Karen:

When you click on the link, a series of about 15 pictures will come up.

Click on a photo in that category that appeals to you.

Again 15 pictures will come up, click the one for you and move on.
Just continue to keep picking.

At the end it will give you a profile of yourself.... It's called a visual DNA.... Your choices dictate your profile

Visual DNA

For comparison's sake, my profile said:
Mood - Dreamer
Fun - Escape Artist
Habits - New Wave Puritan
Social - Relaxed

Can't really argue there.

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