Standard Answers for Standard Questions

Just so you know you may find what I’m about to write a little on the ranty side of the fence. And while I am justifiably angry what I’m writing is not influenced by this rage. About an hour ago I received another call from Prudential Long Term Disability claims. I was asked the standard battery of standard questions along side a couple of new ones. This post is an attempt to answer those standard questions so that we can avoid future calls wherein I might be asked incredibly insulting questions mid stream. If, by chance, my “representative” at Prudential is reading my blog (and there’s plenty to indicate that she probably is) please use what I’ve written here in lieu of an actual phone call.

Are You Still Having Seizures?

The short answer to this is yes I am still having seizures. The long, is that thankfully they have been less frequent and possibly less dramatic than they were last spring. I’m going on two weeks with a new anti-convulsent which seems to be helping. Add to this that I’m back on the mood-meds. This means that my mood is generally pretty steady although you should keep reading if you want to know more.

What Are Your Symptoms?

If I’ve listed it here before its still exists. I’ve included, this time around, a rating system so that you can understand why I might hesitate to return to my extremely stressful employment.

  • Dizziness/Vertigo: this is pretty much perpetual, if you see me imagine that I’m doing my best to remain upright. Its sometimes worse and sometimes less of an issue, but I’m almost always dizzy.
  • Memory Issues: this one is a difficult one to nail down with any certainty. I’d suggest that a lot of this is short term memory problems. Tess just came down into the garage to tell me that I left the burner on the stove. Could have swore that I turned it off, but who knows. I know I forget things all the time, if I could remember what they were I wouldn’t be forgetting them.
  • Anger/Frustration: The EMDR and mood-meds are thankfully helping with this one. I hope my family has less to fear; that I won’t instantly jump off the rails and frighten them or worse.
  • Fatigue: Sometimes I have plenty of energy and I feel like I can take on anything (including insurance companies) other times I feel like Droopy Dog. I feel best when I’m on my bike regardless of how I felt before I got into the saddle, but even this isn’t a sure thing.
  • Fear: Not always fear, but intense emotion might be a better description. This one jumps out of nowhere and grabs you by the short and curlys. Sometimes its fear, like at the beginning of September when I woke up from a nap to a low flying helicopter. Other times I’ll hear a bit of music and bust into tears. Or just burst into tears because, what, I’m doing dishes or shopping for zucchini. If I could tell you why I could probably stop these intense emotions.
  • Impaired Judgment: See memory loss, but in any event ask yourself am I the guy you want heading up a 168 million dollar capital investment portfolio?
  • Sense of Shame: Again the ERDR and mood-meds are helping here, but imagine yourself in my shoes. I turn 40 years old in precisely four days. The most important thing on my scheduler is keeping up with the laundry. As much as I’d like my independence back, I rely on others for the simplest of things, pretty much because my brain seems to be Swiss cheese.
  • Shaking of Arms and Head: This has thankfully become much less frequent, agitate me however, and I’ll shake your paint can. Thankfully, my planner has very few agitations on it any more.
  • Headache: Ah, ye old head-vice of misery. I thought I had a pretty fair appreciation of pain before all this started. I’ve lived through a lot — broken bones, automobile crashes, sicknesses, I’ve even woken up during surgery — but I had no idea what pain really is until this. Pretty much every day I get a splitting headache, focused along the right side of my skull and jabbing me in the eye on that side.
  • Seizures: Two weeks! Its like a kind of heaven. Maybe the new meds are working. Not really sure what that means, but there’s a little hope in all this.

What Do You Do All Day?

As I’ve said before, nothing very interesting. I take care of the house and our tiny son so that my wife can work. She has to work to fill the employment/income gap I created when I got sick. This list of activities includes but is not limited to the following.

  • Washing Dishes
  • Washing Clothes
  • Washing Floors
  • Washing Windows
  • Washing Toilets
  • Washing Dogs
  • Washing little hands
  • Washing pretty much anything that might get dirty
  • Taking walks
  • Taking bike rides
  • Visiting the Library
  • Visiting the Rec Center
  • Visiting nearby friends
  • Visiting the grocery store
  • Visiting web sites
  • Make meals
  • Tidy things, a lot of tidy things

Sometimes I get to add the following activities into the mix. These things spice up the whole affair and frankly they give me a reason to abide.

  • Ride a bike on a tour of the area
  • Read books acquired from the library
  • Visit my friends
  • Visit with my family
  • Hike
  • Run
  • Take pictures and make movies of me being outside
  • Make blog posts
  • Work on my bikes
  • Play video games
  • Listen to music
  • Make my own music, poorly

Over the next couple of weeks you can add to these lists:

  • Pack up everything we own from two locations
  • Move everything we own to new condo in CB

If you’re the praying type please take a moment to ask God or who ever to protect my back and grant me patience for the above two. If you’re not the praying type feel free to lend a hand.

When Is Your Next Appointment with Medical Types?

This question comes in all sorts of flavors. Basically the answer to any of them is “When they can see me.” As you may have gathered I’m still dealing with a diagnosis of exclusion. What this should mean to you is that no one, including all those people so generously medicating me and offering therapy, know what’s actually wrong. The long and the short of that one is I’m sick! And guess what, there’s no timeline to getting better. You can’t plot this one out in a Gantt chart.

When Do You Plan on Returning To Work?

When I’m better.

Now for the less than standard questions I’ve been asked recently. I’d like to answer these not because I think they deserve an answer, but because I think they shine some light on For-Profit Medicine and the National Insurance Scam you guys have got going.

Has Anyone Else Seen You Having a Seizure?

Literally hundreds of people from the care givers who took care of me in multiple hospitals last spring and documented each occurrence extensively (you have these records by the way) to the tourist crowds who’ve seen me go down in any number of public places here in Gunnison.

Here’s a follow up question for you, why, if we all agree that I’m a sick dude must we keep coming back to this. This is hostility, not just curiosity. You’re actually trying to get me to admit that none of the last six months actually happened so you can avoid paying future benefits? This after I’ve paid into your system for 12 years (that’s 144 months).

If I wasn’t offended by this I might then be eligible to graduate to full on admittance to asylum. Course then I wouldn’t much care so I guess its a positive sign.

Why Aren’t You Seeing Your Neurologist More Often?

Because our next scheduled visit (for another series of brain scans) isn’t due until this fall. Add to this that his practice is about 150 miles from where I live and, I don’t hesitate to repeat this just to be sure you understand, I CANNOT DRIVE. The good news is that he does visit the Gunnison Valley usually about once a month and if he has space on his calendar during that period of time I’m certain I’ll make the appointment.

Suffice it to say that you’re not my neurologist or my psychologist or even a person who’s met me face-to-face, so why are you suggesting a course of action for me? Seems to me you may be overstepping your area of expertise here, perhaps a more moderated, less hostile approach might be in order?

Why Haven’t You Been Tested for Cognitive Capability?

See above, but also understand that no one (other than you) has mentioned this nor prescribed it. In fact, most of medical providers have seen me exhibiting all of the symptoms above at one time or another including helping finish simple things like sentences in a train of thought (speaking of which do you know how annoying it is to just lose the conversation you were having with someone?).

If you have any suggestions for a more substantial and potentially successful regimen of therapy please talk with my medical providers (again, you have their contact information). If you’re not medically qualified to make such suggestions then perhaps you should keep your opinions to yourself. You don’t have my best interests or my health in mind when you call me, that’s obvious, so why should I extend any olive branch or trust in your direction?

Finally, if mine isn’t a case of why For-Profit medicine never works for the patient who knows what would qualify. You’re right Prudential I don’t have cancer and I didn’t crash a motor cycle into a brick wall. Point in fact, my brain, that very important organ with no back up just stopped working like its supposed to and now I’m left picking up the pieces of my former life so I can liquidate them in order to pay for medicines and therapy that might somehow, someday return me to ranks of fully-functional, adult, American, male.

Just to add insult to injury (or whatever is wrong with me) I’ve got to put up with hostility and suspicion from the system, no wait, correction — the very people I’ve paid to help me should something miserable happen to me. And you guys even stopped doing that two months ago without even a “Dear John” letter to let me know what was going on.

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