Archive | September 2017

Yes, It Was a Mistake

Let me explain what I read from the Social Security office: “Thank you for your willingness to serve as a representative payee. We have decided that it would be best for BARRY to have his checks sent to another payee.”

My logic: Another payee?!! Whom?! Wouldn’t we at least receive a notice that someone had applied to be his payee? His checks are going to be sent to someone else’s bank account? Our income is going to go to someone else? WTF?!! Oh, hell no! Someone just messed with the wrong person. They will pay and wish they had never messed with me.

I dragged poor Barry to the Social Security office. He was not happy, to put it mildly. Being dragged to a government office drove him nuts, not that it’s anyone’s favorite place to be. The worker got to see just what Huntington’s does to a person’s personality.

Nobody had applied to be his payee. This other payee? Barry himself. I was just so relieved that the money would still go into our account and that I did not need to go directly to the lawyer’s office in preparation for a legal battle.

The problem? The SS people said they had not received the paperwork from the doctor’s office in time and so had to deny. Perhaps the doctor’s office did not fax them the info. I know these people and I had called to ensure that they had faxed the info. So, I am not really believing that. Especially since one of the other SS workers said, “Why does it say ‘completed’?”

I had the letter from the doctor’s office. I spent all morning at the SS office and even a little into the afternoon. It was exhausting. But I am his payee now. It really does not have much practical impact unless someone does try to take his money because it still goes into our account. The main difference is that I can now change his address and that kind of thing. Anyone that wants his money will have to go through me, as it should be. And, yes, we would be notified if someone had applied to be his payee. I specifically asked that.

Whom am I pissed at? The author of the extraordinarily poorly worded denial letter. Given the Equifax breach, I was rightfully concerned that someone, somewhere had found a way to access Barry’s SS account. To me, it seemed to be very carefully worded. In actuality, it was very care-less-ly worded. I, or probably just about anyone else, could have done a much better job.

The SS office could have saved me an entire morning and a whole lot of drama had the writer simply chosen his words more carefully. The office is always packed. Are they trying to drum up business for themselves? Your taxpayer dollars at work.

Hope This is a Mistake

Today, I got a letter from the Social Security Administration saying that I can’t be Barry’s beneficiary payee because they’ve decided on someone else. Whom? Excuse me?

I am Barry’s wife of 28 years. I am his Power of Attorney. I am his primary caretaker. And his checks are going to be sent somewhere else?

If this is not a mistake, I’ve got a can opener and a big-ass can of whoop-ass I am about to open. This is Social Security fraud and the perpetrator will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Their ass will be incarcerated.

I am mystified and livid. If I were going to rip off Barry’s Social Security, I would have done it many years ago. Whoever it is needs to prove my incompetence in handling his money. I do everything for him. Ev-er-y-thing.

What makes this so scary is that Barry is what is called a “vulnerable adult.” He has Huntington’s Disease and probably cancer and someone wants to steal his Social Security checks? This is, literally, a federal offense. Who would do this to a sick, old man, an invalid?

Tomorrow morning, I am going to the SS office and then probably our lawyer’s office. If someone is intentionally doing this, this is some seriously bad karma on their part. I will make them regret their actions in this life and karma can kick their butt in eternity. They will pay forever. No joke.

OMG So Pure Michigan

I found this picture and caption and thought, “Yup. That hits the nail on the head.” Rugged, slightly (?) white trash, probably driving a Ford or Chevy, maybe a Yooper (resident of the Upper Peninsula). Just how much venison has a Ford, Chevy, or Ram imprint in the meat?

If you are a furry animal, we suggest you run far far away from the state of Michigan. The Great Lakes State is known for their road kill and their guns. If you have not hit a deer in Michigan, you are probably not from the state. If you have hit a deer in Michigan, you probably hit the animal with an American car. You will find very few foreign cars in this part of the country because Michigan is home to three major U.S. automobile companies.


Relaxing Too Much?

I have a pattern. Stress, stress, stress, relief, immune collapse. I did it for years at school. Ten minutes after a final was over, instant cold.

I have been so happy about looking for a job and having real possibilities that I totally relaxed, and got a cold a couple days ago. It is just a head cold. So my nose is stuffed up. Clogged sinuses are giving me a chronic, low-grade headache. Ugh,

This is a “summer cold” because it is 90 degrees, day after day. Tell me there’s no global warning. Ha! Denial of climate change is no different than denial of alcoholism or drug addiction. The question is always the same: Just how bad do things need to get to have some acknowledgment that the problem is real? How many hurricanes in one year will it take to wake up some people? Ninety-four degrees in Michigan at the end of September? Are you freaking kidding me? The normal is just barely hitting seventy.

What’s truly weird is how the leaves are changing. It looks like October and feels like July. It’s just wrong.

Honestly, I feel more optimistic than I have in years. Because I really have to work, there’s less guilt. Few people would have a problem with me working after having put my life on hold for Barry for so many years. And I wouldn’t care about their opinions at this point, anyway. I have granted myself a great deal of freedom because I realized no one else was going to. I am reducing my internal chaos levels and ending my need for everyone’s approval is the ultimate in de-cluttering.

Not Pretending So Much

I am applying for jobs now. Today, I am applying to be a library worker for the local library chain. I am way over-qualified, but the hours would be perfect. And I’ve worked in a library before.

Barry tries to pretend he is fine–and then he coughs. He sounds horrible. Pretense over.

Today, his health care provider sent a letter to the Social Security Administration saying he is incapable of handling his finances, an understatement. She sent me a copy. In it, she refers to Barry as having end-stage Huntington’s. This is the first time anyone has referred to him as “end-stage”, as far as I know. Somehow, that makes it more real.

My shame comes from not keeping in contact with my references over the past five years since I graduated. I hate dealing with this emotional stupidity. I am fifty and still feel this way? Are you kidding?

What grants me courage is the whole not-giving-a-rat’s-ass from turning fifty and dealing with hell for the past few years. There is nothing any employer can throw at me that can make me go through anything worse than I already have. Once you just don’t care anymore, it is amazing how simple things get. Let Barry pretend. His pretense changes nothing.

Odd and Encouraging

I’ve been talking to Career Services at my alma mater, Davenport University. The lady’s name is Cindy Whittum (W). She came back to DU after being gone a few years. When I first went back a couple weeks ago, it was like a mini-reunion. I saw my undergrad adviser and also the librarian. I was happy to see everyone.

I went back a couple days ago for a follow-up regarding my resume. W told me about a possible tutoring opportunity there, budget-dependent, of course. And she told me what happened after I left last time. The librarian went to her, closed the door,  and asked if I was looking for employment. Uh, yeah. While at her office Tuesday, W emails the librarian about tutoring or proctoring positions and gets a response while I am still there. No word about tutoring, but she told someone in charge she had someone interested (implying me) in proctoring. Proctoring tests would be perfect for me. Not many hours and I’d get my foot in the door.

I am so excited. I am actually being recommended for various jobs. The librarian remembers how dependable I was when I worked for her. I would do dishes at DU if I could get my foot in the door. I want to work in academia. Always have. When I leave MI, my dream job would be to work at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. I have felt this way for years. They have a department that researches meditation. How cool is that?

The other thing that I have done is to get Barry one of those emergency buttons in case he falls down while I am running errands or working. He doesn’t need a lot of assistance; mostly he needs to be able to contact someone if he falls, because he has fallen in the past.

Just for a minute a few days ago, I felt the way I used to at school. It was weird. I feel like this is my future. It felt intuitive (which is huge because I am not very intuitive in general). Something is happening.

Feeling Pressure

Hitting fifty is hitting me hard. I know that I have more years behind me than ahead of me.

Part of me is proud of what I have done. I got my first bachelor’s degree when I was 29. I was willing to go back to school when the economy tanked. (Michigan was in a one-state recession before the financial crisis of 2008.) I then got a BBA and then an MBA. I got my MBA while Barry had cancer. I helped him with that. I sold the house on my own. I moved the two of us. I dealt with a gazillion bizarro crises  in 2015. I’ve helped Barry be straight and sober since 1988. I’ve had spiritual (mis-)adventures galore. I’ve overcome my need for anyone’s approval.

My panic and sense of determination come from what I haven’t done: a career.  Most people my age are eyeing retirement and I feel like I am still preparing to do something when I grow up. But Barry’s health issues have pushed me to make moves in that direction. It no longer matters what shape he is in, how he feels, his opinion, what the insurance company does or doesn’t do, or whatever. I simply do not have the option of watching TV with him for another ten years as he sloooooowly goes downhill from the Huntington’s. I can’t wait until I am sixty to start working. I have been trying to transition him and me as easily as possible, but none of that matters anymore.

I feel very good that I have done everything I can for Barry. I’ve tried to do everything with him he wants to do. We’ve had the important conversations. We’ve made the choices. No one could ever be more prepared than us.

I am now outside my level of control. I’ve made all the preparations I can. Much of what happens from here on is outside my control. Nobody can say I didn’t do what I could

Not Pretending Now

A couple days ago, I went to my alma mater, Davenport University. It was the first time I went to the new building. I was part of the last class to graduate from the crappy campus in 2012. It was a homecoming. I had never been in the new building, but I was instantly comfortable. My old adviser greeted me, as did the librarian I worked with.

I knew the career services lady from my time in the mid-aughts (000s). She is going to reach out in the community to help me find a job. She knows my challenges. I believe I will be working in the next few weeks. I have even notified Michigan Rehab Services and Peckham. The most likely possibilities are  office work (especially a support role at Jackson National Life or other maybe a health organization) or tutoring at DU itself. I get the impression I will find as much work as I can stand. The challenge will be limiting my hours to a manageable level to accommodate Barry.

It became real enough to me to order one of those systems for Barry where he can press a button and 911 will respond. I just simply cannot guarantee that I or one of those Brightstar people will be at my apartment when something happens.

I turned fifty this past Wednesday. I feel like I have screwed around enough with my stupid self-esteem/shame issues. My life is now between half and two-thirds over and I no longer have the option of not working. Every cough of Barry’s gives me a tiny feeling of panic.

I get a weekly horoscope reading and this weeks was (in part): “IF YOUR BIRTHDAY IS THIS WEEK: You are at a turning point this year, choosing between who you have been and who you might yet become. This can be a very powerful time in your life, as you are more inclined to take the risks necessary for major change.” Could it be more right?

I feel like a snowball is rolling downhill in my life. It has been unleashed and I am not in control of it. Is this what being “over the hill” is about? My life feeling has gone like this: stuck, stuck, stuck, stuck, panic! I am usually bored or overwhelmed, so, yeah, that sounds about right.