When My Health Issues Landed Me In Court (Part 2)
And we are back for part two! Recapping Part One (which you should read first if you haven’t already done so), I’d been diagnosed with a rare medical disorder, my husband had left me, I lost my social security disability case, I had to go back to work so that I could feed my children, my health prevented me from working full time, and then I found out that my attorney had my denial overturned, and my case was headed back to court.
Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Moving on:
It had been YEARS since I’d lost my court case! And I had no idea that my attorney had filed an appeal; I didn’t even know that was possible. I was so completely caught up in pulling my life back together after my husband’s disappearance, that I had somehow missed everything that had been going on with my case behind the scenes.
“I don’t think I am going to win” I told my attorney. “I’ve been working because I had no choice, I’ve been going to the gym because it’s the only thing I can think of to keep my health from getting worse, and I dance when I have a good day. I’m not even taking the pain pills that the doctor prescribes me because I need to be clear headed enough to drive my kids around. I’m doing so much, that no one is going to believe how sick I actually am.”
“Just come to court” he told me, “and tell the judge the truth.”
So I did.
I explained why I was working, and how I cared for my children. I talked about the doctor appointments, the prognosis, and I answered more questions than I was expecting to have thrown at me. I sat there and listened to the judge and my attorney argue over my medical files, read reports from state appointed doctors, and I heard testimony from a state hired vocational expert on how my health would affect my job opportunities.
I felt what I always feel in court; removed from the situation, and protected by a layer of PTSD that keeps me from having to emotionally absorb what is going on.
The judge didn’t make a decision that day, and it was three months before a letter from the social security office arrived in my mailbox.
I remember pulling it out of the box, and the air being sucked out of my lungs with it. Taking it inside, I sat on the couch and turned it over and over again in my hands; trying to will myself to open it, but not sure what it’s contents might mean for my life.
Fully favorable, and permanently disabled, it read.
I felt… surprisingly devastated.
32 years old, single mother of two, dating the love of my life, and legally disabled.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a lazy person. I am not someone who gives up, or who takes the easy road. And I’m not saying that anyone who is disabled is any of those things, but when you have the label applied to you, it feels like someone has looked you up and down, and decided that they can’t expect much from you.
Despite the myths that people seem to have about most “benefit” systems, social security disability at my age is NOT easy to get; most applicants are denied. Knowing that the judge had reviewed my medical records, seen past what I was doing to hold my life together, and still considered me sick enough to expect that I would never work a full time job again… it hurt so much.
So I decided not to think about it.
After that, I stuffed my health issues down so far that most of the people around me didn’t even know what was going on. Since my benefit amount is low and I still needed to work part time to pay the bills, it was an easy subject to avoid.
Being a domestic violence victim makes you a professional at hiding away what you don’t want anyone else to see.
Last spring, due to my young age, social security reviewed me to see if they thought I was still disabled. I turned over all my updated medical records, paycheck information from writing, and disclosed the volunteer work that I do for the nonprofit. In the end, they decided that I was still disabled, and moved me to a category that assumes I most likely won’t ever get better.
I was happy for the financial assistance, but I was sad for my life. It’s a lot to process, so I shoved it all down again where no one could see it.
But, I’m married now, and not only does my husband know all of my secrets, but he can convince me of things that no one else can. So when I ended up in the hospital back in December, and then again in April, I agreed to finally see all the doctors that I should have been seeing during all the years that I was single mom-ing it and ignoring my health.
And a few months ago, I made good on my promise.
Unfortunately, the results weren’t exactly what I was hoping for.
From that first appointment, I was sent to have a procedure done… which I mistakenly scheduled in a really scary part of the next town over:
That’s me, messaging The Guy once I got there and realized where I was.
I’m happy to say, that I did not perish in the basement of a decrepit hospital. In fact the procedure actually went really well, but then as most of you know (if you follow me on Facebook), I ended up in the hospital again last week.
COPD was really kicking my ass, so when I got the flu, things quickly went south for me in the breathing department. And before I knew it, my unborn baby was heading towards a very, very, early delivery.
Thankfully the doctor’s were all over it, and after a few days and nights of being the youngest person on the pulmonary ward, I was released with the instructions to take it much, much, easier.
Taking it easy has never been easy for me.
So I didn’t take it easy, figured I would bounce back like I always do, and instead I ended up coughing so hard that I actually tore part of my abdominal wall and gave myself a hernia that I will need to have surgically repaired once the baby is born.
A lesson which I get to be reminded of over and over again at my daily physical therapy appointments, where the therapists are trying to strengthen my core muscles enough that my organs won’t come popping out of the tear before the baby is born.
Obviously this is not what I wanted, but you know what? Much of my life has been filled with situations that I would not have chosen to be in. But with that being said, I love where they have taken me.
These health issues have really caused me to need to slow down, and if you remember from the post “The Things You Learn While Sitting In A Cave,” my goal for this year has been to live intently; To not get caught up in everything in life that doesn’t matter, and instead, use the time I have, for the life that I intend to lead.
Well, I got what I wished for.
I no longer have the energy, stamina, or physical capabilities for things that are not important to me. I have no choice but to sit back and seriously evaluate what I want to expend my energy on, because doing it all, is not an option anymore.
I can’t do everything, so I’m going to make sure that I love what I can do.
It’s amazing how often we find ourselves at a place in life where we sit back and think “this is not what I wanted, but it is exactly what I needed.”
So this week, I challenge you to try and change your perspective on just one thing that you encounter, where your instant reaction is to wish that you hadn’t encountered the situation at all; a situation that is putting a limitation on something that you would have rather done instead.
A meeting that ran late, children that wouldn’t go to bed, a project that took longer than it should have, and traffic that forced you to sit with your thoughts longer than you would have liked.
I challenge you this week, to find one bump in your schedule, that changes your perspective on something else.
Maybe it teaches you that it’s time to reevaluate things, or maybe it makes you grateful, for something in your life, that you weren’t being grateful enough for.
There is peace, in accepting limitations, and pure gratitude in learning to be happy with what you have.
Even if those lessons started in an uncomfortable place.