Monday, April 25, 2011

The Social Security Administration is Evil

The Social Security Administration is evil. I am beginning to think they are Satan personified. I have never had to deal with anyone or anything with such a lack of regard for people. How do those people sleep at night? How can they hold their heads up and live their lives knowing what they are doing to people?

What brought on this latest rant of mine?  More bad news. I just got an email from the hosting company for my website, TravelsOklahoma. My annual payment to keep my website up and running is due this Thursday and we don't have the money to pay it. Not only is a source of income for my family, it is also my "baby." I put a lot of time and effort into building it from scratch. Every word on the site is mine. Every photo is a picture I took myself. And, it will all be gone on Thursday.

I have no idea why I got out my denial today, but I did. I read it all. The judge wrote that I had doctors refuse to treat to because I was too sick for them to take care of me. Despite this, I am well enough to work. How sick do you have to be for a doctor not to treat you? Better yet, how sick do you have to be to get disability? Obviously, I'm too sick for doctors to treat, but not sick enough to be considered disabled. It is almost funny.

The judge also said I could work because my daughter could help me with everything I needed to do when I go home from work. That is a joke. My daughter was barely four at the time. Does Social Security really expect a child that age to help much? Do they expect me to keep her from being a child and make her take care of me?

Then I got to the part that explained the different jobs I could do despite my medical problems. All of them were in factories - sheet metal, sewing and the like. Who would want me to work next to them knowing I was taking 400 mgs of Lyrica a day, 30 mgs of Valium, 100 mgs of Darvocet plus the Requip and my anti-depressant? That would not be a safe environment for me or my co-workers. Of course, there is Maisie, my service dog. The Americans With Disabilities Act says that employers must make "reasonable accommodations" for a service dog. According to the sheet metal unions I've called (several in each of the different time zones), it isn't reasonable for them to provide Maisie with protective foot covering, ear protection, a hard hat and all the other things she would need to be safe in a factory setting.

How stupid can the Social Security Administration truly be? It boggles the mind. It is more than I can comprehend. Then again, maybe I could understand it if I wasn't in the middle of an anxiety attack and one of the saddest depressions I've ever been in.

Of course, I know I do some writing online to make money. That is working. Sort of. Not enough to support my family. I can write online, maybe, 10 per week. And, that is a good week. The money from my online writing helps, but it won't keep the wolf from the door. Speaking of that...

This Wednesday, at midnight, our internet and cable will be turned off.  Due to lack of payment, obviously. I have gotten every extension possible, but they won't work with me anymore. The paycheck my husband got last Friday was only for one day. After taxes, it might be enough to get him back and forth to work until his next payday on Friday. Not only will I not be able to write online, the cable will be turned off. I understand that cable is a luxury for most. However, we live in the middle of nowhere; without cable, we do not have any channels. Please keep in mind we live in Oklahoma. This is tornado season. And, wildfires are popping up all over the state. Having cable is a safety issue for us.

Please explain why everything falls apart at once? Why is it necessary that I always be a day late and a dollar short? Better yet, find a reasonable explanation for why Social Security denied me my disability.

All of this makes me even madder. If Social Security had done the right thing - the legal thing according to their rules and not denied me my disability, we wouldn't be in this situation. I know why they are doing it. They are wanting things to get so bad that I am forced to go back to work. I've already been down that road. I tried going back to work. I lasted four days. Those weren't even eight hour days; I was sent home early every day because my supervisor could see the pain I was in. The last day he sent me home, he told me not to come back until I had a release from my doctor. I never got the release.

What are we suppose to do? We are so close to living under bridge it scares us. Our landlord called around for us, looking for homeless shelters because we are so far behind on our rent. When he learned homeless shelters didn't have to accept service dogs, he said he wouldn't evict us unless he could find a shelter to take us. We can't keep living here, paying next to nothing for rent. That isn't fair to him. He deserves to get paid.

I deserve to get paid as well! I worked from the time I was graduated high school until a couple years AFTER I shouldn't have been working anymore. I paid into Social Security with every hour I worked. That money is mine and I should get it. They are stealing from me! And, my daughter!

I am so mad. And sad. And scared. We can't keep going on like this. Every senator and congressperson I have is involved in my disability case. The governor even wrote a letter on my behalf. I have sent in disconnect notices and the paperwork from landlord stating how much I owed in back rent, hoping for a "hardships appeal." It falls on deaf ears.

I am doing what I am suppose to be doing, but Social Security isn't doing what they should be doing. I know my God is bigger than all these problems and the Social Security Administration. I know things are in His hands. I am expecting a miracle. I have to have a miracle! I need help. I need help now. I can't believe that in just a few days, I won't have anyway of making a little extra money writing online and that I won't know when a tornado or wildfire is close by. I can't believe I'm going to lose the website I created over just a few dollars.

My heart is breaking. And, the guilt isn't helping matters. Yes, I feel guilty about all the complaining I do. I know there are a lot of people in worse shape than I am in and I should be thankful. I am thankful for all that I have - I just wish what little I do have wasn't being taken away from me because of the Social Security Administration.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Good News Mixed with Bad News

I am pleased to be able to say that my husband will be waking up at 5 a.m. tomorrow to go to work. It is his third day on "the job." After months of calling, popping in and generally driving everyone at the local temp agency, they finally found my husband a temporary job.  We were told it would be two days of work, but tomorrow will be day three. We are thrilled.

That was the good news. Now for the bad news. We aren't sure if he will have enough gas in the car to actually get to work in the morning. He drove to work and back today on fumes. If he runs out, he will be at the mercy of whoever stops. The hits keep rolling in...

After getting every extension possible, if our cable/internet bill isn't paid by 5 p.m. Friday, it will be turned off. My husband will be paid on Friday - for one day of work. We are trusting God that I get earnings from all the places I write and, combined with with his paycheck, it will be enough to buy gas and pay the cable/internet bill.

Isn't that strange? I'm worried about the cable/internet bill when it seems that other things are more important - like food. Seeing that the only source of income we've had for a couple years has been the writing I do online, it does make sense. Why not cancel the cable and just have the internet? That makes sense, except for one little problem - we live in Oklahoma. Springtime is tornado season and wildfires are popping up everywhere. It is a safety issue not to have television service. Because we live in the middle of nowhere, we have to have cable to get any type of a signal.

As always, I am trusting God for a miracle. I am just a few dollars short of meeting the minimum payout for my Google Adsense account. I am also just a few dollars short of meeting the payout at Helium. With just a few more page views, I should be able to have that money in my pocket - which would be a big blessing to us.

That is the latest update on what is going on with my Social Security fight and life. Of course, if the Social Security Administration would do the right thing, we wouldn't be in the situation.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The News Isn't Good

Well, we knew this day would come. We just thought it would be next Wednesday and not today. We had planned so carefully for next week, but we were seven days off.  Now, it is even more bleak than before.
My husband is (was) what is known as a "99 weeker" - someone who qualified for 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. Somewhere in the past 100 weeks, we left out a week.  We thought his unemployment ran out today, but we learned it was last Wednesday.

I had it managed so well.  The disconnect notice for our electricity would take all but around $100 of the unemployment money.  We would use the remaining money for groceries and the like.  A tank of gas to get my husband to his next job interview. We were going to slide in safely, just under the wire, and we'd be okay. It didn't quite work out that way.

We stood in line at the Salvation Army - waiting to get some help with the electric bill. We went in and sat down. They were more than happy to help us. They could pay $70 of the $295.17 that was due - once we came up with the rest of the balance.

My husband swallowed his pride and called my Mom. She gave him her standard speech about how God helps those who help themselves and, if we were better with money and he could keep a job, we wouldn't be in this situation. She doesn't seem to understand my husband's job is still available - in China. That is where his company moved it. Of course, she doesn't understand my health problems. She is a firm believer that unless a person looks disabled, they aren't disabled.

It might as well be $2,000 instead of just a little over $200. I don't know how we'll come up with that money by Monday - the date our electricity is scheduled to be turned off. I've called every church and organization I can think of. They are either out of money or can't get anything approved until after Monday. Anything after Monday will be too late.

When I say "it might as well be $2,000" all I mean is that I'm expecting a big miracle from God. We are prayed up and our tithes are paid. That $2,000 I mentioned would be just about perfect to hold us over until my husband gets a job. Please don't say "it's been 100 weeks already." I am aware of how long it has been. That just means we are 100 weeks closer to the miracle God has for us.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Dependence is Great

Now that the situation is over, I am able to share it. It was too scary to think about while it was going on. You see, I almost lost Maisie.

I had let her go outside to potty, as usual. She walked the perimeter of the yard, sniff each fence post and then went to "her spot" to take care of her "business."  I shut the door, knowing she'd let me know when she was finished. Everything was as it always was. Nothing was different or out of the ordinary. Then, I heard the most horrible noise.

I opened the door to look and giant lab/German Shepherd had my Maisie by the neck. I screamed for my husband as I tried to scramble down the steps to save her. Once I was close enough, I started hitting the stray with my cane. All I could see was black fur and blood.

My husband arrived and began pulling the dog off of Maisie. He was caught off balance and fell backwards. The dog ran off and jumped the fence - probably how he got in the yard to begin with.

Maisie was shaking and bleeding. We live in the country and getting into town to our vet would take some time. It didn't look like Maisie had much time. My husband scooped her up and ran into the house with her. I stood in the yard, holding my bloody cane, so afraid I might lose Maisie.

I managed to get in the house. My husband was barking orders at our daughter to get her shoes on and searching for something to wrap Maisie in. I sat on the couch and held her. I used my sweatshirt that was on the couch to cover her up. My husband arrived with a giant towel and wrapped Maisie up. He tossed my sweatshirt on the floor. I looked at it. It was covered in blood.

Before I got sick and became disabled, I had spent years working as the Public Relations Coordinator for an animal shelter/rescue. I had done much more than just PR; I had worked every job there - including assisting the veterinarian with procedures and surgeries. I tried to remember what to do with injured animals - check their wounds, stop the bleeding and keep them still. I couldn't remember any of it. All I could think was that Maisie was bleeding to death in my lap.

What seemed like hours passed before we got to the vet. I sat in the car and held Maisie, talking to her and telling her everything was going to be okay. I didn't sound very convincing. Siobhann was crying and so was my husband.

The vet saw her immediately. She gave her a sedative and began cleaning her wounds. I sat in the procedure room and watched all of it. I couldn't leave her.

My head was running through all the times she had saved me. Like the time I fell in the WalMart parking lot and she grabbed a man by the pants leg and brought him to me. I also remembered the time Siobhann pulled away from me in the grocery store and Maisie "barked in circles" around her, forcing everyone to look. I knew I wouldn't be able to survive without her.

The vet finished stitching up Maisie and put her in my lap. She said something about how everything was going to be okay, but all I heard was the soft whimpering coming from my lap.

Maisie is fine now. All of her stitches have been removed and she is almost back to her old self. She doesn't run and jump with Siobhann the way she did before. I think she is still a bit sore. She does comes running when I fall and helps me work through my anxiety attacks. Maisie still fetches things for me, but she is a bit slower than normal.

Her recovery has been a wonderful opportunity for me to give back to Maisie. I was able to take her medication to her. I talked to her as she tried to rest. I brought her pillows and blankets. For the first time in our relationship, I was able to help her.

I can't imagine my life without her. Maisie is more than just my service dog. She is one of my best friends. Maisie is there for me, no matter what - even when she is hurt. I knew I was dependent on her for so many things, but I didn't realize how much until she was hurt. There are few things I am able to do without her and even more things she makes so much easier for me.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Attacking Anxiety

The past several days, I have been fighting anxiety. Unfortunately, it was been winning. I've had, on average, five anxiety attacks each day for almost a week. Not only are anxiety attacks unsettling for me and those around me, they are physically painful for me. With all the uncontrollable shaking, crying and pacing, my body feels like it has gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson. Between anxiety attacks, I decided to become proactive...

Instead of anxiety attacking me, I did my best at attacking anxiety. It isn't the same as treating anxiety attacks, but without any medications for anxiety, it was the best I could do. How do you go about attacking anxiety? I have a few tricks up my sleeve...

My biggest trick for attacking anxiety is Maisie. Maisie is my service dog and she is able to sense to when I am about to have an anxiety attack. Please don't ask me how she does this. I do not have a clue. I just know that she begins paying special attention to me and gets this look in her eye. I know what that means and start trying to calm down and remove myself from the situation. If there is a situation. Many of my anxiety attacks are not brought on by "situations;" they happen for no particular reason. If I can stop an anxiety attack before it starts or before it is "full-blown," it is much better for me and everyone around me.

Another trick for attacking anxiety are my breathing exercises. I understand that sounds that hokey, but if I can concentrate on my breathing and control my breathing, the anxiety attacks are not as bad and they do not last as long. I "breath in the good" and "exhale the bad." I breath in all the good I can and hold it for as long as possible. I then slowly exhale all the bad. I repeat this as many times as necessary, breathing my way out of an anxiety attack.

I also "talk my way out of an anxiety attack." This way of attacking anxiety looks (and sounds) crazy, but it works for me. I go into a small room (usually my bathroom) and talk to the anxiety attack. Yes, I literally talk to it out loud. I explain to the anxiety attack that things are no worse then they were a few minutes ago and that this will pass. I list all of the good things in my life, repeating many of them if I am also having a bout with depression at that particular moment. I am very careful to control my voice. I use a deeper voice and speak slowly and softly. I also use my breathing exercises to calm myself down as I talk to the anxiety attack.

If you've been wondering where I've been the past few days, now you know. I've been in the bathroom, breathing in the good and breathing out the bad as I talk to the anxiety attacks. Of course, I had Maisie in my lap - pulling for me to get better. As crazy as it sounds, I've learned that these are ways I can go about attacking anxiety. If nothing else, it makes me feel a bit more in control which is always nice.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

In a Funk: Why Do They Call It "Depression?"

The past couple of days have been rough on me; depression is not fun. I hate it when I get depressed. I feel as if nothing will ever go my away again. I know it isn't true. The "self-absorbed pity party" isn't my thing, but I still suffer from depression no matter how I fight it. I'm the type of person that "choices to laugh" and when I hit the "depression wall," laughing doesn't feel like an option.

I've tried all sorts of medications for my depression. They don't work. They only make me more tired, more sluggish and more confused. I don't think there is a pill that can make my sadness go away. How can an anti-depressant help me not to feel sad that it hurts when my daughter hugs me? How can an anti-depressant make me not feel sad when I see all the hair in the tub after I wash it? How can an anti-depressant make me not feel sad as I struggle to fit into extra large sweatpants?

Of course, my mother's method to getting over depression only makes matters worse. "Think of people in worse shape than you are in and you'll feel better," she suggests. Who would ever think that would work? Thinking of the homeless, the hungry and the people who are sicker than I am only makes my depression worse.

Searching for my "happy place" is just as depressing. Rainbows and fluffy bunnies? That is not my style. I am a realist. As a realist, I know that depression is real and I have it. I have to deal with my depression one day at a time. I cry my eyes out, yell at a train and do what I can to move on. How else can you deal with depression?

I only have a couple of bouts of depression a week, so it isn't like I am depressed all the time. I have my "semi-happy" moments as well. I can't say that I have "totally happy moments" anymore. It is hard to be completely when you hurt all the time, the bills are past due and the hand life dealt you isn't very good. I just make the best of it and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Tomorrow will be better. I tell myself that all the time. It will be better because it means today is over and will never come back. I try to hold on to little things like that. Not sure if it helps with the depression, but I know there is always hope - no matter how depressed I may be.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Recovering From Yesterday

Despite the way my day started off yesterday, fighting against Restless Leg Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, I still had things that needed to be done. I almost finished them, but not quite. Now, I am recovering from everything I did yesterday.

I did what I consider to be a lot of writing yesterday.  I finished two articles for Associated Content. I wrote and published a list for List My Five. I even wrote another list for them and published it today. I did my post here as well as my post for my other blog, Keyword Crazy. I was spent and unable to do anymore. I knew I had to do something. Our financial situation is getting worse and I had to do something to improve it. I am now paying the price.

As easy as yesterday may seem to many, it took all I had to give. Today, I am even more slow and sluggish than normal. I can't imagine setting an alarm, getting up and dressed and heading off to a job. To do something for eight hours a day is impossible for me.

People look at me and can't see that I am disabled. I look "normal" and healthy. Of course, I could remove my scarf and they would see my bald spots. When I walk they are able to see how slowly I move and how unsteady I am on my feet. My cane should be a giveaway, but some use them as a "prop." I really need my cane.

I am off to take a nap. My hands are hurting quite a bit and my back is in spasms. Maybe if I crawl into bed and be really still I will feel better soon. If that happens, I will be back at my computer - writing away and trying to make a little money.