So most of you know I have been out of work for almost 7 months….I recently made the decision to go back to work even though I am honestly not 100%. Fighting with the Short-Term and Long-Term disability companies just became too much. I would have to consistently go back to the doctor for an update of my condition. Where there is no change, then the disability company denies your claim. Your doctor has to order unnecessary testing, labs, imaging…you name it so to “PROVE” that you are still ill. Rheumatoid Arthritis is an unpredictable Autoimmune Disease. There is no rhyme or reason to it. One week you might have swelling or joint tenderness in lets say 3 joints. The next it may be 1. The next day it could be 5 major joints. It has been such a roller coaster ride filing, waiting on doctors office staff to actually fax office notes and labs etc, being denied, appealing….and all the while you have ZERO income coming in. I can’t tell you what this has done for my self worth, self-esteem, or just plain feeling depressed that you can’t help contribute to pay the bills or put food on your table for your kids. Guilt starts to set in – like a thick fog….you can’t escape feeling horrible…but its not your fault that this ugly disease doesn’t play fair. You can’t control your doctor who feels that you are on the best treatment for your state – even though it takes its toll on your – making you sick in a different way. You can’t control how fast or slow in most cases, the disability company goes through your claim. You can’t control if you will have the same case worker each time you extend your claim. Bottom line you can’t control anything – from your disease to your claims.
So I gave up. Stopped fighting. You win Mr. Executive of SoandSo Named company who manages our disability plan offered by the hospital I work for. Hmm….something to think about here…I work for a hospital but since my RA has gotten ugly, I have discovered that we as healthcare workers don’t really have the plans or tools to be taken care of properly. I am sure some executive somewhere who knows little about what we do on a daily basis to help our patients but when the tables are turned and we, the healthcare workers turn into the patients – we are somewhat out in the cold. You would think that working for a hospital would mean we would have great care. Something that we wouldn’t have to worry about. I wish that was the case. For me and my provider we just couldn’t justify having to order test after test every 6 weeks to prove my condition. Even though my condition had not changed, they still needed labs, xrays, ultrasounds etc to prove it. What a waist of money and medical resources especially since most often I get another denial. Then we would have to appeal. All this takes time….so in the meantime….4, 5, 6 weeks have gone by since my last check.
Why bother…the system has failed me. It is so frustrating to advocate for yourself. I do much better handling a case for another person because I don’t let my emotions get the best of me. I think at one point I must have cussed a blue streak to everyone at the disability company. Their lack of returning phone calls etc just ticked me off and I lost it. Every person I spoke to on that call (5 or so people) all got a nasty ear full. Its not right.
So I talked my doctor into clearing me to go back to work knowing fully well I am not able to do all the things in my job. Now what????? Fake it, until you make it? Right???? I feel like in healthcare, you can’t just fake it. Caring for people daily, you can’t half-ass your job. If you do, shit gets missed, wrong lab, wrong drug, wrong patient . . . .so what to do?????
I am trying to find a job in the hospital that I am qualified for that I can do and transfer. That really is the only safe thing to do. Do my hands work enough to draw blood all day on a 12 hr shift? Maybe. My hands are the hardest hit right now along with my knees and hips. So walking throughout the hospital is rough. I have good days and I have some pretty shittackular (yes this is my made up word) days. But the problem is I will never know what wild card I am dealt until I get up. It scares me because if my day is really bad I really can’t call in and say “Hi Ms Manger, I am sorry I can’t come into work today – Yes I know I just got back to work. Yes I know I need to be here. Here’s the thing, its just a really bad RA day. I don’t have the strength in my hands in order to safely hold the needle in order to draw the blood. Someway, somehow I got to figure this out. A way to work, safely in order to help care for my family.
In the meantime, back to the Mayo Clinic next month and see what the results of my MRI are with a NeruoVascular Doctor. Not really thrilled that they are calling in another specialist on my case. Still more testing and things to be done as well. The Mayo Clinic is wonderful. I couldn’t ask for better care.
So in the meantime, I am stuck trying to figure out how best to work, safely. More to come. ….