In A Nutshell

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Despite being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia about a decade ago, I was able to work and lead a "normal" life, until I became severely ill with MS type symptoms one month after being laid off in June 2009, which meant no health insurance to properly address the problem. I spent 3 days in the hospital but since they initially did not want to keep me (one doc said I may have MS, but was overruled), I did not qualify for the financial aid for hospital bills because they did not think I belonged there. I was misdiagnosed with Labyrintits and sent on my way. I was told it would go away in a few weeks, that was 3 years ago and I have had the symptoms of dizziness, balance problems, vertigo, and pain every day since then. I went to a local free health clinic until they told me they exhausted all their options and could not help me any longer. I cannot drive nor work outside the home and only walk briefly with the aid of a cane, but also can't get disability because I have no real diagnosis for these particular symptoms. These are the chronicles of my (so far) dead-end journey riddled with bodies of good intentions.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Beating a Dead Horse

Early this morning, and I do mean early, I received a call from Mayor Wayne from a local Salvation Army branch. This was a follow up on an experience I had when contacting the Salvation Army recently to ask for assistance. I was told I did not qualify because I was not pregnant nor had children under 18. (For more on that, see this prior blog entry.)

First of all, Mayor Wayne said they did not EVER tell this to people inquiring about assistance. I really did not know what to say to that because I am sure that is what they told me – unless I was having a big Fibro moment. He quizzed me about my situation and in the process he figured out they may have assumed I was asking for a homeless shelter and then he said that yes, their shelter only accepts pregnant women and children. Mhm.

He did explain that their services included food baskets, help with utility bills, and they could help me if I owned a house. Well, I told him I was waayyy beyond losing the house (had I known then …but I figured as a homeowner I certainly would not take up resources that should go to less fortunate people than myself). Also, since I lived in a hotel now helping with a utility shutoff notice would not work as my financial issues were not related to that.

Then came his inevitable questions I had answered before many times:

“Have you tried the Department of Social Services and applied for Medicaid?”

Out comes my answer that by now sounds like I simply rehearsed it:
“Yes, but Medicaid is only for pregnant women and children under 18. Same for cash programs.”

“And you can’t work?”

“Uhm, no, I can’t drive, walk, sit or stand for very long.”

“There are free health services, I can refer you.”

Good thing it’s not a video phone call as I roll my eyes and launch into the spiel how I already did that and they were unable to diagnose me because it’s beyond their limited resources. If I could simply walk into the Mayo clinic, like famous people do, believe me, I would do it. Alas, I keep that last thought to myself.

“Well, you need to get on disability!”

I am not one given to uttering expletives, but what wants to come out is something along the lines of: “No ….!” Instead, I politely do what I call the “Ring Around the Rosie,” or perhaps I should call it the White Elephant.

I explain once again that while everyone who looks at me knows that, but since I have no proper diagnosis I can’t file, and I can’t get a specialist who can diagnose me without health insurance. I can’t get health insurance because I can’t work and I can’t work because I have debilitating condition.

I had contacted one of those firms you see advertising on TV who supposedly help you get disability and this is what they explained: The SSA does not determine a disability based on what they can plainly see, that would be too simple, there is a process involved, every one knows that, and they are not exactly keen on handing over money. 

And, you MUST be under a doctor's care to show that you have an interest in getting better. My question about how to obtain one without health insurance was basically answered with that that was my problem. Besides, before economic decline it was hard to get SSI, you think it got any easier? Again, I keep those last thoughts to myself.

Now there is silence at the other end.

In the meantime, inside my head there is anything but silence. I wonder, not for the first time, why high ranking people inside of charity organizations are not familiar with the most basic guidelines of the agencies they try to refer people to.

“Well, let me give you the number to the Daily Planet, call them.”

I thank him and hang up. But, I have a hunch, so before calling the Daily Planet, I look them up to see this:

Safe Haven is a 21-bed, free-standing facility that offers transitional housing with comprehensive and integrated health and support services for individuals suffering  from severe mental illness coupled with chronic homelessness. It provides 24-hour staff supervision and guidance with the ultimate goal of transitioning clients into permanent housing and independent living. By referral only. For more information about referrals, please call ...

Just by reading that I can see I do not qualify. I will call regardless, but …what is that saying the Native Americans have: “Once you discover you are riding a dead horse, you should dismount”


Conny said...

I think this entire blog is quite shocking Alex. The Salvation Army helps those who have property? Somehow that doesn't seem right. They only shelter pregnant women or women with kids under the age of 18 ... that's discrimination.
You can't get medical assistant and therefor forfeit social assistance ... OMG can it get any worse? I'm going to Twitter and Facebook this. this kind of injustice should be blasted wide open.
Good for you to let others know. I hope some private help comes of this instead of giving it the "charitable institutions". God knows how they spend it. I'm certainly never donating to the Salvation Army ever again!

Diane said...

Charitable organizations are being pushed to the limit right now. Your experience with the SA is probably being played out many times with many people across the country. There is very little help available, and too many people who need it. The way you documented your experience is helpful, Alex, for people to get a better glimpse at what it's like for people in your situation. What Americans need is more empathy and less greed.

Red said...

The Salvation Army has been using this same discriminatory behavior for decades. This is not new to the recession/depression.

As to SSA/SSDI, apply any way. They will make you go through the motions, which necessarily includes a visit to a certified doctor, not a free clinic.

EXPERIENCE TALKING: You will be turned down the first time. Appeal. The second doctor will be the one they listen to in the end.

Feel free to contact me from any of my media choicea, I will give you more information.