Thursday, October 9, 2014

Prove it! Insurance Companies, Disability, and Disbelief

Ah, yet another day spent "proving" to someone in power that, yes, I really am disabled. This time, I had to prove it to my insurance company -- for the third time in five months, before they'd give me any money at all. This time, it consisted of going to my G.P. yet again, and wasting her time and mine telling her what she already knows and has already told the insurance company: I have complex PTSD, and I have a chronic back pain -- both caused by all the severe abuse I suffered as a child.
Not that the cause of my infirmities is the company's business. All they need to know is that I have two chonic conditions that frequently make it impossible for people to work.

And I've tried. Man, have I ever tried! I've spent the last seven years trying to return to work and shredding my body and soul in the process.

Instead of being praised as a trooper, or given some compassion, I've been made to feel like a sneak, a liar, and a thief, a devious crook trying to trick my employer and my insurance company out of accommodations that are, you know the law, and money that is, you know, rightfully mine.

It makes one wonder who the crooks really are.

I spent how many years getting my education? How many years teaching? How many years teaching at my particular college and paying into my insurance plan? Why work so hard to get and keep a good job with good benefits if I'm going to doubted and bullied and denied and delayed when I need to make use of those benefits?


And don't even get me started on how long it's taking the government agency that provides compensation to victims of violent crime to decide that, yes, as a victim of years and years of child sex trafficking, I deserve some money for... frivolous things like therapy and house cleaning? It's October. I applied in January. 'Nuff said.

What the hell more do these people want from me? My blood? The first born child that I don't intend to ever have? Genuflection that would hurt my back? What?

It doesn't help that the general population also has all kinds of prejudices against the disabled, particularly the invisibly disabled. They seem to believe that the world is crawling with "fakers" just out for an easy ride (pun intended), and that this justifies the kind of disbelief and humiliating treatment I've been getting from ... well every organization that is supposed to help people like me.

Even before I got my scooter, when I mentioned that I was going to get one, even friends would immediately tell me stories of people they were quite sure did not actually need scooters but were just lazy. The proof usually goes something like this, "But I saw him walking, so he's obviously merely lazy."

Really? Lazy? I challenge anyone who thinks that to just try living one day in the kind of pain I endure. Get up in the morning and make breakfast. Guess what actions hurt when you do that? All of them! Reaching to turn on the tap, bending to get something out of the fridge, carrying a mug to the table, lifting anything with only one hand, leaning over the table so you don't dribble food on yourself.

Now it's time to brush your teeth. Hold your toothbrush with one hand, steady yourself on the sink with the other so your core doesn't hurt too much. Don't lean over too far or that will hurt too, but don't spill on yourself. Wash your face, don't spill but don't lean over too much. Tilt your head back for the wash cloth, but don't hurt your back ...

Right about now, you'll need to lie down to rest for a bit.

Get the picture?

Oh, and don't forget that every time it hurts, you're reminded of how your back was damaged: frequent and brutal gang rapes when you were child.



Shoes: Aldo; Skirt, belt, earrings, hair comb, handbag, and brooch: vintage; Blouse: Reitman's 
Yes, I can walk. Some. Yes I can stand up. For a while. I'm even supposed to walk and stand some to try to build strength. But it hurts. Often, it hurts like hell. 

So don't get mad and call me lazy when you see that I can walk. Be impressed that I'm walking, given what a struggle it is.


I do need my scooter. I am disabled. And the disbelief of my friends, workplace, government, and insurance company is not helping.

Am I angry? You bet I am! I haven't spoken to one single disabled person, even those with visible and/or congenital disabilities, who hasn't gone through this same crap, over and over again. We deserve better. If we don't get angry and speak out, who will?

I do try to shrug it off when there is nothing left to be done. I do try to enjoy life and let my anger go, for my own sake. What can I do?

Well, look good. Look my best anyway. Dress up.

Geraldine Mcewan as Agatha Christie's Miss Marple
Like Miss Marple ...

... with my little details ...

... and hairstyle ...

But it's no cure for the frustration, the stress, the fear that the powers that be will continue to say, "Prove it!" and, "No!" and I'll continue to have so little money, it's a crisis when I need a new winter coast.

It has all aged me, I think. At my age, I probably shouldn't feel such a kinship with Miss Marple. I certainly feel old: I move like an 80 year old and, by the age of three, I'd seen more evil and endured more suffering than most people do in a lifetime. I'm tired all the time. The PTSD, the chronic pain, and the discrimination all meld into one big mess of aging -- fast.

I seem to be keeping my dark hair well into my 40s, so I might fool you, but the physical disability has aged my body in other ways too. It's rendered me a bit stout before my time and it's a constant struggle to make my peace with that.

But I'm trying to work it ...

1930s, one of Foncie's Photos
... like the "stout" lady on the left.

I do my best to draw my courage and bits of joy where I can. The pleasure I get from a pretty brooch is all out of proportion to its size and monetary value. But at least I can experience pleasure in the midst of it all. I always could notice such things. Not everyone who's had a life like like mine can say that. I don't know why I can but I'm glad I can.

And, as with so many abuse survivors, I have learned from animals about the healing power of tenderness and touch. I am convinced that I would not be able to love Beau, my fiancĂ©, as I do if it had not first been for the love my cat, Morgan, and I shared.

So I keep on keeping on, doing my best and hoping it's enough.

And the good news? My disability claim was finally approved! There may still be some battles but I think the war is won and I can breathe again. To paraphrase another group of pissed off ladies fighting for their rights, it's bread and brooches for me once more.

(I'm linking this up with Visible Mondays at Not Dead Yet.)


  1. That comment, "I saw her walk" boils my blood. The only response? Well, I saw you run once - how come you don't do it ALL THE TIME?

    Congrats on getting your claim approved.

    I love your brooches and style. I see your pins on pinterest (I am NARL MYNY) and we have some very good taste in common!

    1. Hey that's a good one: "Why don't you run all the time?" I'm going to use that. Thanks. I also say, "If I couldn't walk, I'd be in a wheelchair, not a scooter," but people in wheelchairs can sometimes walk some too.

      I'm going to check out your brooches on pinterest. Did you see my board of just my own jewelry?

  2. You can add me to the long list of disabled people that are accused of faking their handicap. You know me and have seen photos and videos of the effects of the Cerebral Palsy I was BORN with. I once had a doctor ask me if I wasn't sure I had MD instead of CP! I almost asked him if he wasn't sure he was an idiot, not a doctor. They still question my gig, so you're probably doomed.
    Do me a favor and do something that will be painless for you but impossible for me. Please, flip them off with your left hand, too.


    1. It's just so shocking and demoralizing, isn't it?

      Today, I had a union president ask me, "Did you ever thinking of trying to get better instead of staying on disability?" He also said that most people collecting disability are fakers who get "quack" doctors to back their claims. What a f*cking a*shole! Can you imagine being a disabled person who works where he's union head, and going to him to ask for help with on-the-job discrimination?

  3. I love your attitude! All of it is just too ridiculous. I'm so sharing with someone who has such a similar story, you wouldn't even believe it. Thank you for sharing your story in your unique and beautiful way.

  4. I am so sorry that you have to go through this, Charlotte! Unfortunately, there are plenty of insensitive people who say and do all kinds of unthinkable things. I am glad that your claim finally got approved.

    You look beautiful! And this skirt is just awesome, I look forward to see more of it. :) Giving you a big hug! xxxx

    1. I love the skirt too, though it's not at all slimming. It's a wonderful, thick, nubbly wool, like some coats from the 60s.

  5. Looking good in your zaftigness! Loving the shoes. You know I understand about invisible disablements. I am fortunately supported by my husband, but have the precious diagnosis on a piece of paper if ever it's needed. I dread to think! I just have people look at me puzzled, or say "you don't look it" or " you're just intense" or "have you tried relaxing?" In the midst of your detractors you sail through, looking like a star! I love your hair pin. So happy you've had a breakthrough! Xo JJ

    1. Whenever anyone starts with, "Have you tried..." or, "Have you thought of..." I know they're about to say something sanctimonious, implying that I could choose to no longer be disabled. It's a form of victim blaming that makes me ill. I think they just don't want to believe I'm powerless over my pain because they don't want to believe the same thing could happen to them.

  6. OK. I could feel my blood pressure rising as I read this. I've been turned down for disability twice. It is so humiliating and frustrating and demeaning and painful. Augh! Now I've just read your last response to the comment above. Charlotte you are so right! People dismiss us because they are so afraid that they could someday be where we are. I'm also a cancer survivor and I've several people ask me what I did to cause my cancer. Seriously! I'm responsible for this. OK. Time to go meditate. XXXOOO

  7. Grrr, for all the bureaucratic nonsense and societal prejudices! there's plenty of money, always, for more bombs and wars, but not for disabled citizens??? Thank you for sharing your post with Visible Monday, love your "Miss Marple" inspired look, xox.

  8. Way to go! So happy you got Some Benefits. For Many Seriously Injured and Permanently Disable Workers... There is Little more than and Pill and a Prayer. The most help many find is - Others trying to Force you to do What you cannot- WORK. Yes some can do a bit of Work, As I do with Fibromyalgia. But When someone see's you do something- They ASSUME you can Do That and Other Things! Love the Analogy of "I seen you run once- Why don't you run all the time."

    Many Permanently and Seriously Injured Workers will Never Get Justice- Here's an Article I had Written and Included a Video - Best Wishes to all Whom Fight For their Rights!