A judge overseeing my disability case came back with a ruling at the end of December. According to her and what records I could provide her, I have been disabled since May of 2015.
I sat through two hearing for that. I had to hire a lawyer and had to have my mom with me when I met with him so she would remember what I would inevitably forget.
The first hearing was quick. The judge looked over my file and ruled that I needed a neuropsychological evaluation before she could decide. Thankfully, because it was court-ordered, I didn’t have to pay for it.
Unfortunately I was not told beforehand that this evaluation would take four hours to complete. I already had a really bad headache and then I had to solve math problems (hah—failed that), do verbal memory puzzles, memory cards and shapes, put together patterns out of blocks… I had a very hard time with the memory stuff.
Once I was done with that part, I sat and talked to a doctor about my life before my injury, my education, and my mental health.
Then I waited. For months. I was finally scheduled for another hearing, and was told there would be a psychologist (whom I’d never met) and a vocational expert (I honestly can’t remember his actual title—all I know is that he was on the conference phone) testifying.
I don’t know what in the hell that psychologist based any of her conclusions on from the things I knew were submitted. I do not have a contentious relationship with my parents, nor have I ever had issues with them. I also had to speak up and correct her about a lot of things like the year I moved to Texas and my middle name. This woman never once looked at me. Not even when I shook her hand when we were introduced.
The vocational expert, however, was competent. It was very upsetting to hear him say that, with my medical condition, there was no job that I could do as gainful employment to support myself. Nothing.
With that over, we left the courthouse and my lawyer was practically bouncing on his toes and telling me: “we definitely won that.”
I got that letter two months later.
The thing is, I didn’t really feel anything while reading it. I didn’t feel happy or relieved—I wasn’t even apprehensive to open the envelope. Just…numb. I mean, it’s over—awesome. I won’t have to repeat my concussion stories for the trillionth time.
Even now, after being able to pay my bills without my parents’ assistance for two months, I’m just kind of shrugging about it. I suppose the fact that it took almost three years to get through all this made the impact less…impactful? I don’t know.
I still feel guilty about stuff. I was able to get a SNAP card to buy my own food, but grocery shopping really physically affects me. The lighting, the smells (I’m very sensitive to smells now and even smell phantom odors like wet cigarette ash when a really bad migraine is about to start), walking and crouching…I end up dizzy and nauseous about halfway through my grocery list. So my mom usually goes out to get what’s on my list and I feel so guilty that I need her to do that for me. I know she doesn’t mind, but I do.
Hence the self-flagellating guilt thing I’ve got going on.
I still see my therapist every week, and her office accepts Medicaid, so that isn’t going to be an issue any longer. My medical bills have been the biggest mental hurdle for me. I don’t think my psychiatrist takes Medicaid, but I am not going to put myself through the much more stressful ordeal of finding a new psychiatrist.
The one that worried me the most, though? The bill I always felt crushed when I had to pay out of pocket? That doctor, the doctor who specializes in traumatic brain injuries, takes Medicaid. There were a few treatment options (nerve block injections) that were outrageously expensive that I now have the option of even considering if I should do them. Though, more medication and more injections make me a bit leery considering how absolutely nothing has worked, Botox increased my pain, and most of the pain medications that weren’t opioids interacted catastrophically with my depression medication.
By the way, something meant to treat migraines having “headache” as a possible side effect is just plain dumb.
I suppose, after writing this out, I do realize that I feel less burdened. So there has been an improvement.
…I still need to go back and finish around 49 sketches, scan them, put them in the gallery on this blog, then get back to drawing a portrait sketch every Sunday. I knew I should have been doing that weekly while I could still keep up the drive to draw.
I am pretty damn sure that I’ll be able to get back to Sunday Sketches once I’ve had a few consecutive nights where I actually sleep more than three hours. And when I do, I’ll start scanning and posting as I go.
It feels really good to write something positive on here for once.