Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Hunted

Today I got to engage in a government sponsored pity party. I was hit with rheumatoid arthritis in September of 2004. After suffering for a year, Jesse talked me into applying for Social Security disability benefits to help us out financially. I applied, got denied (that's the standard response), appealed, got an attorney, and didn't hear anything for a year. I called the attorney after a year who informed me that they thought I was handling it. I was always ambivalent about filing, so when this seemed like the end of the line, I was glad to let it go.

It's been a few more years, and in that time, my illness has gotten worse. Mia missed quite a few days of school this year because I couldn't drive her. The hip injection was great while it lasted, but we've since gotten the bill, and I realize that this isn't something I can afford to do on a regular basis. Eventually, Jesse and I would love to have our own home, and on just his income we can't do it. I work as often as I can at the hospital, but this week, because of pain, I won't make it in at all.

Jesse's been urging me again to file for disability. I hate the entire idea. I know that it's a wonderful blessing for those who need it, but I know of too many people who abuse the system and just as many who were abused by the system. I saw an ad on TV and called Tuesday night. The receptionist made an appointment for a phone conference Wednesday morning at nine. After the call, the lawyer wanted me to file immediately, so Jesse and I went to Two Rivers (an hour and a half away) to apply. The application took almost two hours to fill out, and that process nearly as painful as riding in the van all the way down. How do you justify an illness? How do I prove to the government that I hurt enough to deserve their help? I am definitely my father's daughter, and I can't quite get over the feeling that it's like begging on the streets, living off of someone else's labor. I had to pour out every struggle: social, work, physical and mental health. This illness has not only been a blow to my physical well being, but also to my mental health. My pride has been beaten down again and again as I am forced to admit that I'm not as capable as I want to be, or at least appear, and when I have to ask for help.

I spend much of my time trying to hide my illness or at least conceal the effects from others. Today I had to put it all out on display in hopes that some faceless bureaucrat read decide that my suffering is enough. My chances are slim: I'm 34 with an illness that's difficult to quantify. The lawyer says that I should expected to be turned down at least twice, and my wait is reasonably close to two years before I'll see a final outcome.

I know I'm blessed to live in a country that takes care of the sick; I just wish I didn't have to parade that weakness for everyone to see.

The Hunted by Mike Dellosso is a powerful thriller in the vein of Frank Peretti with a hint of Stephen King. Joe Saunders has to return to his hometown when his young nephew, Caleb, is mysteriously attacked by a strange animal. Joe hasn't been home in 15 years, because he's been avoiding facing up to the mistakes he's made in his past. His former girlfriend, Maggie Gill, is now the Chief of Police who is in charge of investigating the incident. But soon, Joe finds that Maggie seems more interested in covering up or denying the increasing attacks, and when he starts to investigate for himself, he discovers that his hometown is filled with generations of secrets and lies, and only the truth will save them all. Dellosso's debut novel definitely reminded me of Peretti's The Oath. I was impressed that through the darkness of his writing, he's able to portray a visible hope and deep faith. He keeps the tension going by writing like great horror films: he keeps the truth behind the monster under wraps until the last possible moment, drawing nerves to the breaking point: well done! And Dellosso throws in a twist at the end: I thought the end was rather anticlimactic until I turned the page and discovered the story was far from over. A stellar work by a first time author!

Today's graphic is a Wordle. HT to Angela Hunt for introducing me to this site. If you got to their website, you can copy and paste any text into it and create a sculpture from it. Play with the fonts and layout to make it just what you're looking for. This is my genealogy. All of these last names are in my family tree, so all of these names together make me. I think it's beautiful. It's kind of small, but if you click on it, it will take you to it on the Wordle page, and you can see it better there.