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.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Difference Between a Hand Up and a Hand-Out

"As we go down life's lonesome highway
Seems the hardest thing to do
Is to find a friend or two
A helping hand
Someone who understands" (Lionel Richie)

I am not expecting the government or any organizations to be that friend. However, it does not take a friend to offer a hand up. The news lately, among the usual daily gloom and doom, has reported stories where strangers pull people from burning cars and submerged vehicles, without a second thought, proving that human decency is not extinct yet.

Unfortunately, as more people in the U.S. are at the end of their allotted unemployment benefits (becoming 99ers), they aren't the only scared ones. The ones who have a job look at people like myself and seem to mask their own fear with a sort of disdain. This shows in comments I often read on social media and hear in interviews, which include something along the lines of "I do not want my money to pay for the ones who do not work."

Is it subconscious fear of losing their jobs and becoming like us, or is it because they do not get compensated enough for the work they do? I remember those days, just before my layoff, when raises were non-existent and the only pat on the back you got was "be glad you have a job." And no, this is not about 99 percent or one percent or a baker's dozen, or whatever. It's not about numbers, it's about people. It's the type of comments that I've mentioned above that kept me in the closet for a long time, before I had the courage to tell people about my situation.

Now, let's examine private insurance. Think about it: We all pay or have paid money for car insurance, health insurance or life insurance. Let's use the first example: Even those of us who have no car accidents, still pay insurance. The money the good drivers pay goes towards paying out benefits of those who have accidents and towards share holder profits - it's simple economics. Same with health insurance. The money we pay in, but don't use, either ends up being used for other insured people, or as profits for the company. People have no problem that private insurance companies make profits, but no one wants to "pay for people who aren't working."

Well, what about our money that we paid into taxes and benefits? Many who are jobless or disabled have been contributing members of society for many years. Besides, the money I make now from writing is still taxable, so yes, I am still paying taxes. However, it's not enough to live on. Ironically, my efforts at making money are hindering me in obtaining help to get my illness diagnosed and treated. Yet, the illness keeps me from making more money or working a better job. If I could, I then could spend money to boost the economy. On the other hand, I do not trust the government any more than I do private organizations who make millions in profit. Where is the answer then?

There is a saying I've adopted: "There are two sides to every story, and then there is the truth."

No, most people, like me, do not want a handout, simply a hand up.