Marine Drill Instructor, MBA @ University of Texas Austin, Commercial & Investment Banker—20 years, PWC and disabled in 2000, Housebound, Webmaster. 54 years old.
I do not have a wandering uterus.
OPEN LETTER to The Hartford (Disability) Insurance Co
I am fully disabled. After being fully disabled with CFS for 7 years, it is unlikely I will substantially improve until Research finds a marker for this mysterious disease. Then effective medical treatments can be developed. For over 200 years, doctors were convinced that Multiple Sclerosis was a “woman’s hysterical’ disease, which was all in their ‘head’ and thus a mental illness, until modern science discovered the MS marker in the mid 20th century. One would think shrinks would be more humble about psychoanalyzing “mysterious diseases”, after committing such a gross travesty against MS patients for centuries.
CFS is similar to MS in many ways, including symptoms.
Except a marker for CFS has not yet been discovered.
So, CFS has replaced MS as the current “Rodney Dangerfield” of disrespected illnesses. Like people with MS, I do NOT have to “look” sick to be disabled. Some cancer and AID’s patients are able to run a marathon (more power to them!); I cannot. I am mostly house-bound --- which is significantly better than being bed-bound --- which was my initial introduction to CFS for several months. But relapses are constant, driving me sick and into bed for days, even weeks at a time. Believe me, if I could work, I would. Work is what gives life one of its vital meanings. I would much rather be earning a six-figure income than spending my savings and energy in defense of my disability contract.
But since I can’t work on a reliable, dependable basis, without seriously jeopardizing my health, then I would rather risk (on a limited, controlled basis) my health in helping others, instead of playing the ‘victim’ role. Do NOT twist my efforts to help others into a distorted claim that I am therefore fit to return to work. Such distortions would be another gross lie, equal to a claim of mental illness or a “woman’s hysterical” disease. The ancient Greeks accounted for the instability and mobility of physical symptoms and of attacks of emotional disturbance in women, when these were otherwise unaccountable, by a theory that the womb somehow became transplanted to different positions. This “wandering of the uterus” theory gave us the name hysteria (Greek hysteria, “uterus”) . MS symptoms in women are aggravated during menses: thus the surreal pictorial of hysteria: a wandering uterus. I do not have a wandering uterus. I do not have a mental illness. I do have CFS and I am fully disabled.
I expect the Hartford to honor the terms of its contract: to honor its ‘word’ with me. To ensure you keep your word, I have retained one of the nation’s best disability attorneys: Mr. Steve Krafchick.
Editor, San Diego Chronic Diseases
June 30, 2005
Those of us with Chronic Illnesses are seldom described as brave. Hard to ask for help. Harder to be dependent. Facing disability’s financial uncertainties, doubts, pain, & tormenting exhaustion…takes courage and imagination.
Driven to succeed and be tough, I began my 27 year professional career as a Marine Drill Instructor during the Vietnam War; then outclassed most of my MBA peers at a prestigious university; climbed the New York City ladder of success as a respected commercial & investment banker. Rewarded with a six figure annual income, I knew “the Chairman of the Board” was right: “if I could make it there, I could make it anywhere”.
But I never imagined how really tough it would be in the “Country of Chronic Illnesses”, where I entered at the prime of my former life, age 48. Stricken with CFS in 2000, fearful of losing my mind to unrelenting “brain fog” and headaches, & disdainful of the label “disabled”: I planned for my suicide. Although I had a Masters Degree, I lacked the imagination to see alternatives. Thanks to an understanding Psychiatrist, and the Dallas/Ft. Worth CFS-FM Support Group, I was able to eventually face the long, hard climb. I gained strength from the example of others within the Support Group. (“Nothing but a bunch of unpaid Members serving as volunteers: part-time and not always available!”)
I was inspired, once again, from the stories I heard when interviewing the various San Diego volunteers and our adopted Members. This irascible, cynic’s heart was touched. Deeply.
To all volunteers, within Support Groups and outside in the busy world of San Diego: thank you!
You may have saved another life!