My home, my Boston

April 15, 2013

I’ve had one hell of week. It’s been eventful healthwise and in terms of insurance stuff. There’s been stuff happening with family and with friends. And so writing just didn’t happen, even though I thought of it often and really wanted to. But things had calmed down today, and inspiration struck this morning, so I was excited to write. And then the bombs exploded. I was not there, but I still feel shaken. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, try reading this:¬†http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-boston-marathon-explosion-20130415,0,641755.story

I have made a point of not writing about these kinds of tragic events. For that matter, I haven’t been writing about holidays or other big happenings, either. But this is different. This feels personal. And it’s my blog, so I get to write about whatever I want, right?

When I was a kid, I didn’t realize how big a deal the Boston Marathon was. I mean, I knew it was big in our little world, but I didn’t understand the world-wide reach. As an adult, I feel privileged to have watched the marathon so many times, to have supported so many runners. I’ve handed out food and drinks, I’ve cheered, and I’ve encouraged friends who ran. It was always a fun day.

I didn’t go to the marathon today. I was thinking this morning how odd it was that I didn’t know anyone running this year. And there was some health stuff. Instead, I decided to spend the day with my mom. Today’s a state holiday, so some people have the day off work and some don’t. She did. We went shopping and then went back to her house. It was a really nice day to spend together, and we were both feeling happy, despite our respective health issues.

There are some things we don’t forget. I won’t forget where I was when the Challenger exploded. I won’t forget where I was when I heard about the first place hitting the World Trade Center tower on 9/11, or how I felt when I heard about the second plane a few minutes later. And I won’t forget happily chatting with my mom this afternoon, then answering her phone (because I was closer to it) and hearing my aunt (who lives in another state) asking if we were all ok. I had no idea what she was talking about, but she filled me in fast. And it all changed.

Suddenly, we were all glued to the tv. Now, hours later, it still feels like a bad dream and I’m waiting to wake up. In those first moments, we were just stunned. I started texting everyone I could think of who might be there. And then I texted and called others who I knew wouldn’t be there, but who might have loved ones there and who weren’t likely to have heard the news. Then I checked FB and the early posts were there. It was just the beginning of a flood, though. Twitter was starting to post about it, too.

I am fiercely protective of the people I love. I’m the mama bear protecting her cubs. Don’t you dare hurt someone I love! Last week a friend was getting hurt. I stuck my nose in where it was none of my business and he understood why: my instinct is to protect. It always has been and I hope it always will be. It’s how I felt today. This is my city, my home. I’ve lived here most of my life, and in the few years that I lived elsewhere, I still thought of Boston as my home. And how dare someone do this to us!!!

We all lost something today. We lost some of our feeling of safety. It’s a scary world. I know that. In fact, the tv show Glee had an episode last week about a school shooting. While the students and teachers on the screen hid, I thought about how quickly the world has changed. When I was in high school, it never occurred to us to be scared of a shooting. Sure, some schools in some neighborhoods were dangerous. But aside from that, it was all safe. There were no lockdowns. Our classroom doors didn’t even lock from the inside in those days. But in a few short years, that’s all changed. And in a few short years, so has the Boston Marathon. When I was a kid, it never occurred to me that anything bad would happen when I watched the marathon. My biggest problems were not having enough snacks, or not being able to find a bathroom when I needed one. And now it’s all different. Now I won’t feel the same about it. None of us will. Just like I won’t feel the same way when I walk down Boylston Street, a street I’ve walked down countless times before. I’m due to be there in a few weeks and I just can’t imagine how it will feel to walk past this place that used to feel so safe.

But somehow we’ll all manage. We’ll all move on. We’ll support those who were hurt and who lost loved ones. Because despite it all, this is a strong town and we care about each other. That’s why it has always felt like my home. And it’s why I want so desperately to protect it.


It feels great to do ANYTHING proactive!

April 5, 2013

I’ve been a proactive person for as long as I can remember. Sure, I procrastinate a bit. Ok, I procrastinate a lot. But when it counts, when it’s important, when I care, I really get things done.

In my personal life, I get things done. When the cable company wasn’t fixing my service, I called them and hounded them until it was fixed (and I received multiple apologies from them!) When I needed medical paperwork at school or at work, I always took care of it; even in middle school, I was careful to get notes from my doctors so I would be excused from gym class and in high school I took care of special arrangements for a non-standard SAT test and got note-takers in my classes. You name it, I did it. Even as a child, my parents knew I’d take care of everything and never interfered at school or at my jobs. They were there for advice and support, but I was the one who did everything.

In my professional life, I was even more efficient. Just watch a vendor try and stiff me on a service or not meet a deadline! One particular staff member had trouble meeting deadlines, so I broke down projects for her and sent reminders for each piece well in advance on their due dates. When something broke, I got it fixed. I got out ahead of problems and stopped them in their tracks.

I like being in control. I like taking steps to get things done. And that’s why it’s so hard to not have any control in my current situation. Of course there isn’t a ton I can do to control my health. I do what I can, but it’s limited. I want to see certain doctors and try certain treatments, so I get frustrated at financial limitations. But I’m trying. With the disability insurance, though, I’ve been completely stuck. If it was up to me, I’d call the insurance company every single day and bug the hell out of them until they approved my claim just so they could get rid of me. Unfortunately, I have to rely on my lawyer to work with them. I sit and wait and then wait some more. I get notices of delayed decisions and can’t call them up to find out why on earth there’s a delay. It’s infuriating.

So it’s no surprise that I found myself in a fantastic mood a couple hours ago. I spoke to my lawyer yesterday about the latest delay, which I found out about earlier this week, even though it took place more than two weeks ago. We discussed my lack of options. There’s no regulatory agency. Calling the attorney general won’t help. Calling my senator won’t help. Calling the company isn’t an option for me, and she already left a message (which hasn’t been returned!) Suing is my only option, and it’s likely to fail. They know there’s nothing I can do, so I asked my lawyer why on earth would they bother to do it at all? Why not just delay another 6 months? After all, even if they approve me, they do not owe me any interest or reimbursement for costs I’ve incurred. So why wouldn’t they continue to delay it? My lawyer had a good answer: to keep their clients happy. They don’t want to piss off my employer (well, former employer) by denying every claim that’s submitted. That gave me an idea: what if I called my employer’s benefits person and told her what was going on? My lawyer didn’t object.

And that’s how I found myself finally doing something useful today. After 2 days of phone tag, the benefits person and I finally spoke. The call was short, under 10 minutes, but it was enough. I told her my story and she was concerned. She took notes. She asked the right questions. She expressed sympathy for my situation. And then she said she’d email the insurance company to find out if the latest internal deadline of theirs was met. She warned me that they wouldn’t give her an answer because they would only give that to my lawyer. However, she felt that by asking the question, they would realize they were pissing off their client and would move their asses on my case. Ok, she put it in more professional language, but that was the idea of it. She promised to get back to me next week when she heard from them.

This may have been the push that changes everything. Or it may accomplish nothing at all. But at least I did SOMETHING to help myself. After so many months of just waiting, it feels great to do something to potentially move things along. I just hope it works!


New pains both literal and figurative

April 3, 2013

The thinking used to be, “That hurts! I better see a doctor.”

Now the thinking is, “That hurts! Damn! I hope it doesn’t last.” And I go on with my day.

Sound familiar?

I’ve been thinking about pain today. In the last couple of days I’ve started feeling pain in new ¬†places. There’s my left elbow, and a specific spot on one wrist. That’s not good. Add to that old pain that’s gotten worse over the last few weeks. Then don’t forget the regular pain that seems to have new triggers that I haven’t figured out yet. And the fatigue and digestive problems have gotten worse too. Not good.

There are a few possible reasons for this new pain. It could be the change in season. It could be all of the added stress from the insurance bullshit that I’ve been dealing with. It could be that the universe is just cruel. Who knows? I sure don’t. But if I had to guess, I’d point to the stress.

That brings me to the other pain: the figurative pain in my ass. Almost two months after I expected a decision on the long term disability insurance appeal, I just received notice of a third delay. They did not give a reason at all. None. Really, I’m not kidding! They just said they couldn’t meet the deadline so they were setting a new deadline. I believed them the first time, but not now. And this comes just a few days after I was denied SSDI again. I knew the SSDI appeal would probably be denied, but when I saw that envelope, a little part of me hoped against hope that maybe, just maybe, I would be approved.

No such luck.

So now it’s April. My bank account is getting scary-low. I don’t know if I should be packing up boxes to move out of my apartment. If I need to move, I’d like to get started. But if I’m not going to move, I don’t want to squander all of that energy on packing – I’d rather use it on searching for doctors! Of course, searching for doctors is hard, because if I win the LTD appeal then I have one insurance and if I lose then I have another insurance. Some of the doctors I’m finding take one but not the other. How can I move forward with treatments when I don’t know which health insurance I’ll have tomorrow, next week, or next month?

So yeah, LTD and SSDI are a huge pain in my ass.

It pisses me off more when I hear stories about people fraudulently getting money from the system. How do they do it? How is it that healthy people are getting approved and I’m not? I really don’t get it! What are they doing? They could probably make a lot more money by helping legitimate applicants like me apply in such a way that we’d get benefits. If they can do it, why can’t I?

I’m tired of justifying myself. I’m sick. I look healthy. Both are possible at once. Get over it.

So this adds up to a whole lot of pain in my life. The figurative pains in my ass are translating to literal pains in many other places. I can only hope this all goes away soon. Before I lose what’s left of my patience and my coping abilities.


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