Monday, April 15, 2013

The Social Security Decision

And the results are (finally) in--I've been denied.  The social security hearing seemed to go well, but the judge found me only 'partly' credible.

Part of the problem was that I was unable to get medical care for a few years--living in poverty with no insurance means you only go in if it's a dire emergency.  Respiratory distress (in the literal, medical sense) isn't sufficient.  Another part of the problem is the lack of official diagnosis for the visual memory problem I have.  Being unable to recognize my own family members isn't sufficient for that, either.  I have to be able to prove it, and I can't.

And then there's the opinion about my two sick visits to doctors this last winter.

The first one was for a double sinus infection and a double ear infection.  I had a fever.  The doctor looked in my ears.  She took my word for it about the sinuses after that.

The second one was for the flu.  I had a fever.  My blood pressure (normally normal) was almost 200.  My kid had the flu, too, and we both went to the ER together, driven there by my husband.  And then I spent the next month recuperating--three weeks after the worst part of the flu was over, I was still not breathing well enough to walk anywhere--I had to be dropped off at the door when I visited my mother in the ICU.  I couldn't go shopping.  I probably spent two weeks including the flu just sitting in that damn Chair.

The judge wrote in her decision that I had two sick visits for the 'common cold'.

It makes me sound like a horrible hypochondriac.

But everything is fine, right?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Everything is Fine.

Well, I just keep slogging along.  My husband left recently for a two-week stint in El Salvador with the National Guard.  I've made a bit of a party out of it--Friday the girls and I went shopping, and we had a little bit of fun.  I figured it would be inadvisable to eat  doughnuts, Oreos, and frozen foods for two weeks straight, but we got a few fun things.  So Friday night we had frozen pizza and little bags of chips, and yesterday morning I made refrigerator-roll cinnamon rolls.  We skipped school Saturday.  However, I am immovable--we will be doing school for the next two weeks starting Monday, in spite of any begging and/or pleading from the girls.  On guard weekends, we don't do school.  But two weeks is too long.

We were as far ahead on attendance at Christmas as we ever have been, but after Christmas break, and that horrible flu everybody got, and the funeral, and my sister coming to visit last week (always a good thing)....well, that's life for you.

I've been trying to figure out how to get my two older girls to church this morning and their youth group tonight.  But after driving into town, there isn't anyplace to go.  I'm lucky right now to have enough cash to get dinner for myself and the twins if need be, but after's kind of jarring to realize that there isn't anyplace I can drive to that's open on a Sunday.  My old standby, the library, is closed.

When my husband has to take the girls somewhere, he's got dozens of places he can go.  He can drive all sorts of places that I can't.  For me, the highway through the town where the church is located is the town.  Everywhere else is off-limits.  And the highway consists of fast food places and gas stations and stores.  No place to hang out for a couple of hours.  I don't really want to sit with the twins in a parking lot somewhere.

And my husband has dozens of friends to stop and visit.  I have none.  Not a single one.  Of course, if I did, I wouldn't be able to find them anyway.  But still, it's jarring to realize that if something were to happen to our plumbing, my only options would be to call my father and ask for money to hire a plumber, or call some near-stranger who happens to live nearby and explain the situation.  If the car were to break down, we might be stranded here for two weeks.  Good thing we went shopping.

This life has certainly taught me to be prepared, and to think in terms of independence.  I'm on my own here.

It's tough trying to make people understand why I can't drive places, or why I can't do the simplest of home repairs.  A couple of weeks ago my sister had what might be an excellent suggestion--dark glasses.  If people thought I were visually impaired, that might solve a lot of problems.  They wouldn't expect me to recognize them.  They wouldn't expect me to drive.  They might understand why I have trouble fixing things.

I've also thought about claiming to have had a stroke.  People are more familiar with strokes.  "Since the stroke, I don't drive much," is understandable.

So here I am, trying to have a bit of a party with our new internet service.  Finally, finally we've gotten rid of Verizon's $140 a month plan with the strict gigabyte limit and on-again-off-again service.  We now have DSL (from Frontier), and, for the first time, we can get streaming video from Netflix.  Add frozen pizza, and instant party.

I am tired of trying to make the best of things.  As in, "Well, you can't go to church or youth meeting, but look, nachos for dinner tonight!  Won't that be fun!"  It's a better attitude on my part, I suppose, than wallowing in self-pity all day long.

I've been fighting off a bit of depression lately.  Only for the last third of a century or so.  I get tired of trying to make the best of things and pretend that there's actually any expectation that my life is ever going to change.  Like, maybe some day I'll get a job, or make new friends.

I ran into an old friend who dumped me unexpectedly a while back, at the grocery store Friday.  We both smiled.  It's great to see you!  Everything is fine, right?  She seemed surprised to see me--yep, I'm still alive, still have to buy groceries.

I read something in the news today about a girl born with a severe facial disfigurement--wait, I'll go find it, don't go away....

Here it is:

She seems to have a wonderful attitude.  But she may never get married and have children.  And some of the things she said sounded just like me.  She dealt with constant name-calling.  "By the time she reached high school, she had learned there would be no friends, parties or dates...."

It's occurred to me that if I'm so messed up neurologically that I can't have any friends, can't work, can't volunteer or go to church, if all I can do is stay home, that even without the illness I don't see why people don't consider me disabled.  I don't think most people know me well enough to see what's happening here.  It's as if even the disability organizations don't find me acceptable.

And now that my husband has left for El Salvador, we're fully expecting the girls' medicaid to be cancelled.

I'm not in a great place as far as my fellow human beings are concerned, and I don't know how to fix that.  I'm thinking that if I simply expected people to accept me the way I am after all this time, it might be a symptom of mental illness on my part.

Somebody was nice to me on facebook this morning, and the first reaction I had was anger.  I don't want you to try to be my friend.  Acquaintances are fine.  They can come and go, I can read their posts and pretend to have some kind of a social life, and pretend that everything is fine.  But I certainly don't want to get any closer than that.

I wouldn't get married again if Gerard Butler himself showed up in my doorway with flowers and chocolates.  I wouldn't do that to anybody else.  My husband is married to somebody that he can't take anywhere.  I contribute no income.  His friends won't talk to me, and almost all of his family.  Sometimes I can't even do housework.  It's as if I died and he's a widower.  I don't get disability or welfare.  If he left, I'd have to move back in with my family.

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

Yesterday we made a big batch of chili and watched more movies.  I paid the electric bill.  Today I got in a shower before the girls woke up.  This is my life now.  In some ways it's good--I have lots of time on my hands, which a lot of people don't have.  It's cozy in the house while it's been cold and clammy and dark outside this week.

So I'll just keep pretending everything is fine.