Social Security Disability – The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Social Security Disability:  Having a lingering, chronic, and fatal condition that is sometimes categorized as the “walking dead” is a difficult place to be. 

Waking each morning, putting my feet on the floor, I begin to move through the beginning of my day.  In spite of getting a lot of rest over the past 1-1/2 months at my uncle’s beautiful home in the hills of Auburn, California, this morning I awoke exhausted.  Today has been particularly cruddy.  I just have to learn how to be a little more patient, gracious, and good mannered about it all.  Throwing a fit will not fix my illness…so I’ll blog instead.

We’re extremely lucky and grateful to have this respite from the heat of the Arizona summer.  Great Bonus: An opportunity to visit family (who I’m sure are sick and tired of us, but are gracious enough not to tell us!).

Today I am very grateful for social security disability.  Without it, there would be no tomorrow for either of us.  I wonder what would happen if we couldn’t afford to purchase the medicines that we take – the cost with co-pay is approximately $600.00 a month per person.  If we didn’t have insurance, the cost would be almost $4,000.00 a month for both of us.  Crazy, huh?!

After taking my handful of prescription pills, tablets, and liquid tincture of opium in the morning, sometimes I have to point my head towards the toilet bowl.  I don’t drink much ice-water anymore.  Room temperature liquids have more success making it down and staying down

Like most people on Social Security Disability, I miss working.  I enjoyed my work, the long hours, and the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day.  I miss “normality,” strength, pain-free days…the ability to physically and emotionally handle difficulties, solve problems, and all those challenges that we humans meet each day.

Today:   The challenge today is handling U-238 uranium and tungsten heavy metal poisoning that has settled into our bodies.  Most days pass with pain, discomfort, vomiting, diarrhea, and often depression joins the party.

My husband Richard and I are both grateful for days when we can get around without experiencing pain or some sort of weird ailment.

Our Experience with Social Security Disability:  Last year we applied for Social Security Disability.  We were told by many people to expect to be turned down by the social security folks.  We heard many horrible stories about people who were literally on their death bed with no bed who were turned down…

Surprisingly, we both received SS Disability three months after sending in the application paperwork.  I was shocked.  

No way!  I have known people who are barely hanging on a tree limb that is breaking, and they have not received a green-light for receiving Social Security Disability.  

I read this story with sorrow in my heart.

Blatant Commercial!   BTW, we didn’t apply for SS Disability on our own: we obtained the services of David C. Brown.  Although he is located in Utah, he has clients all over the nation, and I’d bet my last dime that you will be treated with respect and excellent service by everyone on his office team… If you want to talk to someone who will tell you the truth and keep their promises to you, this is one attorney who will help you and not empty your pockets – here’s the link to his web site: http://lawdcbrown.com/.  

Applying for SSD:   If you are contemplating applying for SSD, don’t try to do it on your own.  Seriously, this is one thing that you need professional help with.

Rejected claims are normal

Get thyself to a lawyer who specializes in getting people their social security benefits

The odds of your claim being rejected the first time through the bowels of the Social Security office are high – it’s rumored that only about 10% of the first claim you send to Social Security are awarded – the remaining 90% of claims are rejected. Get a lawyer that handles this type of work before you even file.

There’s a ton of information on the internet; simply type into your search engine “advice for applying for social security disability,” and do your homework. 

One important note during your application process:  Don’t lie.  This is applicable in everything, but even more so when working with the government, doctors, and attorneys.  And remember, lying includes omissions of information that is pertinent to your situation – there’s no grey here – it’s either black or white and nothing in-between!

I truly believe in the Ten Commandments.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think just about every religion and spiritual belief offers up some good advice about honesty!  Check out Buddhist beliefs . . . they have literally the same beliefs as Christians on how a human should behave.

Fraud:  If a little guy wearing a red-hot Lycra suit armed with the pitchfork hangs out on your shoulder whispering, “Come on…no one will ever know you told a little white lie,” please don’t listen to him; okay?   

Don’t exaggerate or try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes…you’ll get caught.  The consequences aren’t pretty.

Cleaning windows while on social security disability?  ...not a good idea...

Cleaning windows on a high-rise building while on social security disability? …not the best idea… 🙂

FRAUD is what this is called!  Just so you know what social security fraud is, read this “e-how.com” explanation

There are a lot of stories and folklore about Aunt Ginnie collecting her deceased husband’s Social Security checks for years before the folks at the Social Security Office wised up.  Yes, that is FRAUD.

I suspect that only lawyers and politicians will escape the penalties for lying!

Just so there’s no doubt in your mind, if you lie (or omit information required) on your application for SSD, the rest of us ‘little people’ will probably have to refund the government all of the ill-gotten money plus interest and fees.

There's no way this orange jumpsuit will look this great on any of us

You and I won’t look this good in orange prisoner jumpsuits!

. . . And, oh horrors, you just may find yourself wearing a very unflattering orange jump-suit with PRISONER stenciled on the back.  Not a pretty picture.

This is how most people look in orange prison jumpsuits!

This is how we’ll really look!

The first social security payment was made in 1937.  What do you want to bet that shortly after that historical event, someone figured out a way to fraudulently steal money from social security funds? 

1937 - First Year of Social Security

1937 – First Year of Social Security.  It didn’t take long for the SS workers desks to get snowed-under with claims from disabled people in the USA.

This meandering tale and observations about Social Security Disability is brought to you on a Friday night; after a difficult week.  So that’s my excuse for not staying “on-point” right now! 

Prescriptions – Friend or Foe?

As my husband and I have been wending our way through this lingering condition of U-238 uranium and tungsten poisoning, the number and strength of medications has been increasing.  Last week we had the worst thing happen to us that could – our prescriptions for the month were way-laid for 1 full week.

I’ll skip the details on how the medication shipment got delayed, but suffice it to say, last week we went through detoxification (obviously un-planned and not controlled).  Detoxification of our systems for seven days had us literally physically jerking every limb day and night, throwing up, and all the basic ingredients that every addict fears the most. 

Because the poisoning that we have is so heavy (trust me: uranium is the heaviest heavy metal out there), no cure is available.  Chelation won’t touch this poison.  Surgery won’t work – unless we wanted to have every single organ in our body transplanted (I understand this has been done before, but the chances of survival are about 3%-we think those are lousy odds).

So, today we drink tincture of opium, take about 4 different pain pills, and add in valium….oh, almost forgot: I use a 100 mg morphine patch too. 

Going cold turkey:  Let me assure you that it’s an experience that is uniquely wicked. And, I don’t mean “wicked good.”  Your entire body including all hair folicles and fingernails hurts like hell.  You vomit constantly, and then you lose everything out the other end too.  During detoxification your skin goes from clammy warm to freezing goosebumps alternating every 10 minutes or so.  You cannot sleep, and you long for death. 

I found myself dropped to the floor on my knees praying, “Oh God, just kill me now and get this over with.”

Well, since you’re reading this blog, you know that He didn’t provide that option to me as an answer 🙂  Both of us made it through 7 long days without our medications.  I’m pleased to have a bit more time inspite of how I felt all week. 

Bottom line for us is that although we wish we didn’t have to take drugs, we must if we want to continue living.  If we stop, we will be stopped . . . permanently.

I am completely amazed at how much humans desire to live!  We fight for our lives even when we know that the final conclusion will be death.  No matter how jaded, cynical, angry, or pessimistic we may be: Life Is Important.

There are other important issues: Quality of life and finding a dignity as we die. Unfortunately in the United States of America and most all countries, the dying are not provided a dignifed, comfortable, and painless way to die.  Suicide for terminally ill patients is unlawful (except Oregon – and there are so many restrictions there, that I would advise you not to pack your bags and get right over there…). 

Richard and I have gone full circle on the subject of the right to die.  We firmly believe the laws must be changed to protect people such as ourselves.  We should have a say over our bodies and life.  We must.  Because by not having a right to say when and how I will die from a debilitating condition, the government basically OWNS me. 

There are a few exceptional events in our life where I don’t want the government involved, and the right to die is one.

Going back to being without our medicines for one week for a moment of reflection: It was hell.  But, I found that I have an incredibly strong desire to stay alive through it all.   We humans can take a lot of battering and pain for just one deep breath of air.

Saturday Morning Musing

Saturday Morning Musings…

Curiosity and interest.  Most of us desire to see things not previously seen – do something we haven’t done before-experience something new. 

Life is filled with exceptional experiences.   Unfortunately as time has gone by, we get jaded…curiosity is replaced with exhaustion, interest is replaced with disappointment. 

I’ve learned that so many, many psychological things happen to us when facing a serious illness.  Even worse, I’ve discovered a lethargy that I never expected. (Albeit, much of that lethargy can be attributed to the poisoning and the many medications that we have been taking for the past few years.)

Regardless, if we have a serious, deadly, or chronic disease, we do become different.  Our minds and emotions change – often because of the drugs taken that are necessary to keep us alive and breathing.  And, yes the pain of the disease or condition that we carry with us every day.

 “Better living through chemistry.”  REALLY? 

 Each day we take our pills and liquid tincture of opium.  And, each day we feel the effects of the disease as it moves through our bodies…pushing and pulling…every day wishing to have a happier frame of mind.

 I’d love to wish upon a falling star and have that wish come true!

 

Falling Stars are a Promise for Tomorrow's Happiness

Falling Stars Come in All Sorts of Shapes!

According to some writers who are care keepers or hospice helpers for dying patients believe that as you prepare to die, patients usually conduct a ‘Life Review.’  I believe that to be true.  If you aren’t hit by a Mack truck and die instantly, but instead face a lingering and painful process of dying…you sift through the past events in your life and evaluate yourself, others, and your life experiences.

It just makes sense to review the past.  I know that I have spent a lot of time going over my past, asking some important questions of myself, “did I do the right thing?,” “did I treat people with respect?,”  “did I give 100%?,” “did I act in an honorable way through my life?”  Those are just a few questions I have to ask myself.

Many nights I awaken with fear and feelings of helplessness.  I hear that’s also to be expected.  I would like to spend more time in the happiness zone.  Being a worry-wart isn’t going to help me at all.

Dying was never on my Top Ten of Desires.  In fact, thinking about it, I believe that I devoted less than 1% of my waking hours in thinking about death until we discovered that we have radiation (U-238 and tungsten poisoning).

falling stars come in all sorts of shapes!

I was busy wishing on falling stars and grabbing those beautiful stars with both hands for over 50 years. 

How blessed I have been . . . I have beat back death on several occasions and have had a life filled with travel, love of a caring man, and more “stuff” than I ever needed.  At the end of the day I value the love of family and friends more than anything.  The junk that I collected through the years is almost gone (good riddance!).

The one major concern I have as “ye ole’ grim reaper”  approaches:  I have lost my curiosity and interest.   I don’t crochet, am a crummy “craft person,” and just can’t figure out how to rejuvenate my curiosity and interest.

 Got any ideas?  I’d be pleased to entertain any concepts.

Much love and friendship to those whom I know and am very grateful.  Without friends and family, our lives would be quite different.  (Perhaps sometimes they could try creating a little less stress – but they usually mean the best – right!)

Happy weekend.

Patti

Patti – back when working was one of my favorite things to do (note: I said “ONE!”)

Love – Patti – on a good day!

 

Losing Weight

My weight now has dropped to an all-time low of 90 pounds.  Losing weight in this manner has been a frightening and depressing part of the poisoning that we are struggling through.  My weight dropped quickly and rapidly two and three years ago from 158 to 115.  After hovering around 115 and 110 pounds for about one year, suddenly the pounds started falling off again; rapidly putting me to today’s weight of 90 pounds. For a 5 ft. 7 inch height woman, 90 pounds simply looks like hell. What does it look like to lose my weight this quickly? 

Scary –  I look like a scarecrow.

What does it feel like?  No energy – my days feel as if I am in need of some kind of life support.  Protein, carbohydrates, calories…something…anything…just get it in me!

My husband Richard, with the same poisoning, is coming in just a little behind me on exhibiting the symptoms.  Over the past 9 months he has begun to lose the weight very quickly.  At night, when I roll over and touch his back, it literally startles me to feel him because of this weight loss.  I don’t recognize him by that ‘oh so’ familiar physical feeling of his body that I have loved for 25 years. 

It’s a shocking thing to die slowly.  Frustration, anger, sadness, grief.  Those are just a few of the feelings that we have.  Radiation poisoning (U-238 and tungsten poisoning – whatever you want to call it) is a lingering death.  Every morning that I awaken, I’m surprised. 

So, my friend, back to the concept of weight loss.

I applaud you if you take good care of your physical body with healthy food, exercise, rest, hard work, and some more rest (!) and there you sit today in front of the computer:  In good health with weight that befits your body frame.

But, three words of advice to those who desperately want to shed 10 or 15 pounds.

Don’t sweat it.

Someday you just may need those extra pounds to help you get through a serious illness that depletes your nutrition. Those few pounds may help you heal, keep your electrolytes balanced, or keep your body from going into shock as a result of a serious disease or injury.

On the other flip side of the coin, there’s absolutely no doubt we Americans lead the pack of fatsos in the human race.  I am amazed to see people eating garbage masquerading as “fast food,” pigging out at buffets, and even those folks so incredibly fat that they have to purchase two plane tickets to get their fat butts on-board.  That kind of fat is not what I’m writing about. 

Ah, the thought of a beautiful brazed, barbequed rib-eye steak on the grill accompanied with a yummy baked potato with all the goodies like butter and sour cream, a gorgeous lettuce salad garnished with tomatoes, olives, avocado, celery…topped with home-made ranch dressing.

My mouth is watering.  I regret that it will not be. 

Tonight I will dream about magical deserts such as strawberry soufflé, three-layered carrot cake, and a piece of hot apple pie topped with hand-churned vanilla ice cream.

Is It Ok For a Man To Cry?

You Bet.

And, for you guys out there who think crying is for sissies, I beg to differ.  I don’t want you guys to make crying a HABIT, because, well…that can be a downer….but tears are not exclusive to females or babes in arms – OK?!

Life has snags, offers up huge and nasty potholes, provides us with people who create havoc in our psyche and emotions, and things generally just “go wrong”  more often than we want.  …Oh, did I mention that physical pain occurs too?!  Oh yes, there are a lot of reasons for a guy to cry.  I believe if you, as a male, took it upon yourself to let the floodgates loose once in awhile, you’d be healthier for it.

Tears can relieve stress more quickly than you can imagine.  Think about it: tears are cleansing. 

We all have the capability to find answers to our questions and work on cleaning out sorrow in our hearts.  Sometimes it takes more time than we wish, and at other times we don’t know where to begin.  I think a few tears rather than slapping and hitting are definitely healthier answers.  This afternoon was our turn to sit together, holding hands and yes…tears came.  Half a bucket-full – not a whole bucket-full.  I hope that we’ll begin to feel a little better.  That would be nice.

Pain Management

Over the last 3 years I have heard much conversation and read a lot about “pain management.”  …sounds like a great idea to me.  So, why can’t I find it?!

***

I do know that every chronic or long-term patient has thought about it. You just can’t get through your day without thinking about how best to combat pain.

***

Unconsciously I bite the inside of my mouth when pain gets the upper hand. . .I think it’s because by causing pain in another area of my body, it minimizes the pain in my gut and other areas on my body that are painful – so, biting the inside of my mouth kind of distracts me.

***

Think about this: if you had lung cancer and were going through a lot of suffering because of that, you would try like heck to make the pain go away, right?!  So, I think it’s probably normal for us to try to distract ourselves from chronic, harsh pain.  And, if you can’t get the right medicines immediately, our natural inclination is to do anything in our power to Stop The Pain!

Friendship-Always Good for the Soul!

Friendship-Always Good for the Soul!

What are your favorite coping methods?  I would love to hear from you and find out about what works for others…Here are some of mine:

  • Rocking
  • Re-visit some of my favorite places in my mind (particularily scuba diving spots that stand out in my memory) 
  • Writing Lists of Fun Things I Have Done and then re-reading the list. (thanks for that one, Mark!)  Funny, but I revisit this list and can always add to it
  • Stub My Toe (Diverting my mind to another part of my body)
  • Talking and Listening to my Husband
  • Calling a Friend
  • Have a Good Cry – – I mean a big, loud and blubbering cry some where nobody else will hear me

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What are your favorite coping mechanisms?  Inquiring minds want to know!

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This morning my “pain medicine” will consist of roling over in bed and snuggling with Richard.  It’s a little after 6am and after being up any period of time, I find the pain starts rocking my little world no matter how much morphine I take or how many pain relieving patches I slap on my body!  This morning my vote is to snuggle.

The Long, Long Story

Beyond Treason – – Today I was inspired to re-watch a video “Beyond Treason.”  It’s a long video (about an hour), but if you want to know anything about depleted uranium and our personal situation, it’s worth the time. I’m not so hot at re-posting, but hopefully I can do it here.  Ah – to heck with it for now!  I tried to post this video and can’t figure out how, so, until I get smarter,  just go to www.youtube.com – type in Beyond Treason and watch the full length version!

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Rich and I have had a very tough week . . . he’s asleep, thankfully, now.  After early this morning I’m glad for him to have the relief of resting.  I’m also grateful for our friends and family caring even though we tend to be isolationist-type of people.

***

Lately we have both felt the effects of the poisoning increasing in severity and swiftness.  It’s not easy to face, but face it – we must. I’m grateful for many things this afternoon as I lay here in bed next to my sweetheart.  We have had a blessed life together in so many ways…we’ve lived in many beautiful countries, done some darned interesting things, have had great friends and family support, and our love together.  Rather than wring my hands and feel despair, I would much rather think of these and other great things that have been treasures for us through the years.

***

There!  I feel just a little better!