I am a life-long learner. My thirst for knowledge, my passion for exploration and travel, and my obnoxious know-it-all obsession [that’s a joke] has taken me on many rewarding journeys. My life was teaching, child advocacy, and political activism.
In November of 1997 I was driving the lead vehicle in a 4 car collision. I was just starting to leave a changing traffic light when a lady in a brand-new Dodge
My life changed. I had to abandon my union positions and most social activities due to the fact that by the end of a normal teaching day I was drained of all energy and overcome with muscle strain and pain. Eighteen months later, in June of 1999, my Dodge minivan was struck from behind by an elderly man with failed brakes. My mending neck was further injured
I am not seeking sympathy with my narrative. I am simply trying to help others to understand the effects of traumatic injuries, endless medical testing and treatment, and a life with chronic and debilitating pain.
A change in
To literally add insult to injury – the co-pay for mental health medical expenses went from 10% under my old MESSA Blue Cross coverage to 50% under the State of
I have had a life-long struggle with depression. I have managed to live a full and successful life with only having had to be under the care of mental health professionals through 4 short episodes in 50 years. My last round of treatment was coming to an end when the 1999 accident occurred. After a few more months of counseling my doctors discharged me. My primary care physician was advised to keep me on an atypical anti-depressant thereafter.
My only recourse was to finally accept my disability and file a claim for Social Security Disability. After a ton of paperwork, two independent medical exams and months of waiting, my application was rejected. Today, after another long 10 months, I am still waiting for a court date to be scheduled to hear my appeal.
Sorry, it takes some time to tell the key points of my story.
In January of 2005, my 79 year old father had his second heart attack. Dad had his first attack 19 years earlier and it was followed by a double bypass surgery on his heart. After the January heart attack, Dad’s health began to fail. Within months, I became the primary care giver to my father. For 5 days a week, I woke Dad in the morning, fed him breakfast, dispensed his insulin and heart medications, and set aside food for his lunch. I returned each evening to prepare dinner and dispense his medications. Fetching the mail, doing the dishes, doing small loads of laundry, and performing minor household chores were also part of my role in Dad’s care. My sister and an older brother took care of Dad on the weekends. They also took care of the housecleaning, grocery shopping, and other tasks that I was physically incapable of doing.
Taking care of Dad became my life.
My father passed away on February 28th of this year.
My oldest brother’s yearlong battle with cancer ended three months later on
My profound grief was a trigger for a serious battle with depression. My primary care physician referred me to a psychiatrist in early April. And, after 51 years – I was FINALY and CORRECTLY diagnosed as having Bipolar Depression. I will write more about this malady at another time.
Today, I want to focus on one of the major obstacles that I must overcome in order to manage my disease. Money- more precisely, insurance coverage parity.
Now, consider for a moment that someone’s child, brother, sister, or parent is limited to only 60 LIFETIME visits to a cardiologist for a severe heart condition. Or that a family member is only allowed to be hospitalized for just 20 days in a one year period for cancer treatment. How fair would that be? I have an organic brain disease. It is no different than my high blood pressure, neck, and thyroid problems. My insurance coverage to help me combat my disease should be on par with all other health conditions.
Presently, my pension is the primary source of income for a two adult and three feline household. I fear that I may not find enough money for both counseling and the short and costly visits to a medical doctor during the trial and error process involved in drug therapy. Finding the right mix of medications to stabilize my severe and frequent mood swings may be a long long trek. I am presently cycling from mania to depression several times a week and sometimes cycling up and down in a 24 hour period. This freaking roller coaster ride is not thrilling. As my brother would say, “it’s f@#*d up”!
Unfortunately, if I lose my Social Security Disability appeal, my STATE OF
Parity. That’s all I am asking for right now. Give me a fair chance and I will manage. I must.
Please write your State Representative and State Senator. And, please go to the Michigan Partners for Parity website for more information.