fear & loathing at the medical plaza

i got to take a look at my official disability record the other day. it was a strange experience. it did help me understand why my review resulted in a cessation of benefits, but obviously i still think they made a giant mistake. even though the medical records i provided clearly documented an ongoing struggle with depression & social security’s own doctor noted that i was currently experiencing suicidal ideation at the time of the appointment, the examiner still concluded that my depression (the condition for which my disability was originally approved) was “much improved,” to the point of no longer being a significant barrier to my basic functioning. um. NO CLUE how she reached that conclusion. i guess because i hadn’t attempted suicide? & wasn’t on an anti-depressant or other psych med? (mostly because my health insurance doesn’t cover prescription drugs.)

mostly the report focused a lot on debunking my claims of physical pain, concluding that my reported pain is not supported by the objective medical evidence & is therefore not a hindrance to my functioning. i’m not totally sure, but i think that’s code for, “i think this person is lying.” the DDS report said that i “claimed to have pervasive arthritis in multiple locations,” which i did because that’s what my orthopedic specialist in boston had told me. i’ve been reporting that to disability during every review & on my original application 14 years ago. but there’s nothing about it in my current doctor’s records & social security’s doctor observed that i didn’t struggle to get on & off the examination table, so i guess the examiner decided i’ve just been snowing everyone for the last 14 years.

anyway! it was all more or less what i expected. still a bit upsetting, but i’m hopeful that my reconsideration will go better. i was able to provide a lot more evidence that my depression does actually effect my functioning, even if i’m not going around attempting suicide on a weekly basis, & hopefully i was also able to provide some medical documentation that clarifies my physical limitations.

speaking of, i saw a neurologist today & got tested for carpal tunnel. that test really kills! my hands & arms are still aching & it was like eight hours ago. the doctor prescribed me braces to wear on both wrists while i sleep & said, “if your hands feel better after you wear the braces, that means you probably have carpal tunnel.” for how painful that test was, i would have really liked a slightly more definite result. i still don’t understand how the hell i would have developed carpal tunnel. maybe i spend a lot more time on the computer than i think i do?

in an awkward twist, i actually saw the neurologist at the playground yesterday. that was before my appointment. as far as i knew, he was just some random dad getting kind of frustrated with his kid for being scared to go down the slide. then he walked into the examining room today & recognized me & said, “i saw you at the playground yesterday.” i never would have recognized him if he hadn’t said anything. sometimes i think i have some sort of man-specific face blindness. unless i actually know the dude, they kind of all look alike to me. but he recognized me, & actually had to cross the awkward bridge & say so.

then i had to go to a different place to get the wrist braces & the guy that worked there started flipping out about all the paperwork involved in filing a claim with medicare, which then segued into a lengthy monologue about how he’s a republican & he thinks people in lawrence are too closed-minded because they live in their cozy little liberal bubble, but he still hates the tea party & actually read all 1000-whatever pages of the affordable care act & thinks it’s a wonderful step in the right direction toward the socialized medicine that all people need & deserve. i had no idea what the hell was going on. he was all, “sam brownback invited me to his inauguration & i called him up & told him to invite someone who doesn’t think he’s a worthless piece of shit!” then he was all, “i don’t understand why anyone would think anyone was scamming disability or welfare or workman’s comp. none of those programs actually pay enough to live on! why would anyone WANT to be on those programs if they didn’t NEED them!” & the whole time, i was standing there with the $21 i had to pay for the co-pays for the braces, & he was literally just reclining in his chair, refusing to take my money until he finished his rant, which probably took half an hour, minimum.

so, yeah! why would anyone want to be on those programs if they didn’t need them! answer me that, cruel DDS examiner who kicked me off disability because i was misinformed about the extent of my arthritis & haven’t attempted suicide enough times to be credibly depressed.

on the off-chance that anyone who sews actually reads this: i really want a serger, so i can experiment with knits. what’s a good starter serger? i’m thinking about a brother, to match my brother sewing machine, which has never given me any guff even though it only cost like $125. thoughts? (this is probably not a purchase i will make until the fall, but you know. i like to do my research.)

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

2 thoughts on “fear & loathing at the medical plaza

  1. That examiner didn’t really uphold the whole “exam” part of the business, did they? Sheesh. I hope that means it will be a lot easier to get the appeal to go your way!

    1. eh, i can kind of understand what happened. i reported that i had arthritis in a whole variety of joints, but none of that was in my medical records. so i kind of looked like a giant liar. even though i was just reporting what i had been told by previous doctors! they either misdiagnosed me or i misunderstood the diagnosis. but to the examiner, it just looked like i was putting it on. it’s not like they would be inclined to give a person the benefit of the doubt, you know?

      i still don’t know where the “depression has greatly improved” part came from. my therapist observed that the first year of ramona’s life (once i got over my initial brush with post-partum depression) was probably my best year ye as far as depression goes, & she had upgraded me to “moderate depression” as a result (from severe). so maybe that (they only ask for the last year of medical records, so they didn’t have any info on anything previous), combined with the fact that i was not on any medication, combined with no recent hospitalizations or anything, made it look like i was doing great. or at least better.

      anyway. yeah. i also hope the reconsideration goes better. this level of stress & anxiety is really taking a toll on me.

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