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|
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|
... 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|
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 fiancé, 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.)