Financial Help For Three Accident Whiplash And Pain Disabled Woman
by Joyce Volant
(Pensacola, Florida, USA)
I'm turning 50, and for the last 30 years of my life, I've been in extreme chronic pain. It all started with my first major whiplash at age 19 in Oxford, Michigan, where I grew up.
The accident was not my fault, but my parents still blamed me. I have struggled with severe depression all my life and received no emotional support, except for my mom.
After the accident, I seemed okay, so I didn't get checked out medically. It took a year for me to finally realize that something was definitely wrong due to worsening depression, and terrible head and neck pain.
I'd had problems living with my parents, so at that time, I was living with roommates in Detroit.
I finally sought help from a chiropractic office. I remember that the doctors, after seeing my x-rays and examining me, wondered how I was able to function.
They immediately put me in traction. I had to see them three times a week to start, and I've been seeing chiropractors ever since, as it helps a lot.
My parents never sued the uninsured woman who caused the accident. By the time I thought about it, it was too late, so I paid for treatment myself for many years.
While in Detroit, I became a Christian and got involved with The Way International (a religious cult), and was with them for 13 years.
I met my first husband through the Way. We lived in Little Rock, Arkansas for 15 years. After 10 years of marriage, I thought everything was fine, but it wasn't.
One night after a meeting, my husband told me that the Way was kicking me out (and letting him stay) and that I would have to do whatever it took to get back into the group, or he would divorce me.
I never saw it coming. I lost my husband and complete support system ("friends") in one day. It messed me up bad and I had PTSD.
I had to drop out of a semester in college where I was getting straight As, and had to abandon a four-year Avon business, which had recently earned me a President's Club award.
Our divorce caused by the Way was the first of many in the area. There was a big, five-page write-up in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette of October 15, 1995.
My daughter was six at the time. I got custody of her and tried to protect her from the Way.
My nerves and PTSD really got tome, but I went into "survival mode" and started working full-time and paying for daycare.
Ironically, my second (and worst) whiplash happened that same year, on the very day that would have been my 11th anniversary! I was in excruciating pain right from the start.
In spite of the terrible pain I was in, I worked full-time, for three years, until someone finally told me about pain management. I'm not sure how I survived those three years, with muscle spasms and my head feeling as if it was going to explode. I guess it was my daughter.
I went through pain management, got lots of injections in my neck, back, shoulders and epidurals. They also put me on medication.
I also had a work-related back injury when my daughter was one year old, and I still have a lot of pain with that, and my mid-back goes out several times a day.
My daughter and I went through many years of hell trying to piece our lives back together, with virtually no emotional support.
That second whiplash was also not my fault, and this time I sued. It took four years to get any settlement money, as my Farmer's insurance didn't want to pay, and I had to sue them.
After finally getting some settlement money, and having so many bad memories in Arkansas, I decided that I was going to fulfill a lifetime dream of living in Florida.
We didn't know a soul here, but my daughter and I packed up and moved to Pensacola in late October 1999.
One thing I noticed about this area when we first moved here was that people like to run red lights, so I was especially cautious when driving.
Shortly after moving here, a red-light runner gave me my third major whiplash. I tried to sue, but got very little compensation because they said I couldn't prove that any of the neck damage was new.
In 2001, I got downsized out of my legal secretary job. I couldn't find any work after that.
To make matters worse, even though I had insurance benefits while working, I spent so much on doctors and prescriptions that I had to declare bankruptcy.
When the unemployment ran out and I couldn't find a job, we had to give up our apartment and became homeless.
At the urging of the Way, my ex-husband put me through two custody battles. He knew he couldn't win, but it wiped me out financially because I had to hire an attorney to defend myself and keep my daughter.
Thankfully, when we became homeless (despite all my efforts to get help and try to prevent it), a friend in Milton, Florida took us in.
I swallowed my pride, wrote a letter asking for help and sent it to all of my family and anyone who I thought might care and be able to help.
Imagine my despair when I got NO RESPONSE from anyone. My friend put us up for almost two years, while I tried to get on disability. Our only income was $300 a month child support.
My friend had to have me Baker-acted a couple of times because I was suicidal. Finally, my friend wanted to get on with his life, so my daughter and I had to move out.
Having nowhere else to go, we were forced to live at the Milton Housing authority. It was very crime-ridden, with crack-heads everywhere, and my apartment was SEVERELY roach-infested. Nothing they did helped the problem. It was horrible.
I finally got approved for SSA disability in 2004 and Medicaid and was able to buy a used car with my back pay. I started getting the counseling and other help that I had needed for a long time.
When my mom passed away in 2005, I lost the little bit of emotional support I was getting.
In spite of the pain and all, I worked part-time at McDonald's for 4-1/2 years, and thank God, we managed to get out of those projects.
I had to have my gallbladder removed in 2006. Ever since then, I've had dumping syndrome, which makes me have diarrhea all day, every day. Lomotil twice a day controls it, but at the same time disables me more.
Just so I can function, I take a lot of prescriptions for the several other medical problems I have on top of the pain, dumping syndrome, depression and anxiety.
I had to quit working at McDonald's because of my health; I just couldn't do it anymore. It was also a very hostile and stressful environment and it was making me sicker.
During all the time that I didn't work, I've always kept myself busy trying to learn and better myself.
I taught myself how to build websites and do some Internet marketing. I've been trying to build a work-at-home business for a while.
My dad passed away in 2009, and that's when things started getting more interesting and very challenging medically.
As a side note, despite years of being treated by chiropractors, I just found out this last year that I was apparently born with a non-union in my neck -- a mild form of spina bifida.
My neck was weak to begin with and thus more easily damaged by the three whiplashes.
When I lived in Milton, I had no car and there was no public transportation there. Getting to the doctor or the grocery store was very difficult.
My daughter is 23 now and lives in Milton. I am going to turn 50 in a few days. I live by myself in a small one-bedroom apartment in Pensacola, with my cat (my best friend).
I receive $748 a month from disability, which is about enough to pay my rent and electricity each month.
The only way I am able to live on my own right now is because of my Dad, who passed in 2009.
He left money to each of his kids, but for some reason he left mine in the form of a 10-year-trust. I guess he thought it would help me somehow with the disability and all, to receive a monthly check for 10 years.
Medically, it actually messed me up. Under penalty of perjury, I had to inform Medicaid that I was getting a monthly trust check. Therefore, my Medicaid status changed to Medically Needy with a share of cost.
Even though I pay all my own bills, including car insurance, utilities, food, debt settlement, etc., Medicaid feels that I should have to pay at least $1700 for medical per month until they will kick in anything. It's totally worthless.
Considering that my entire monthly income is about $1800 and I'm paying all my own bills, it makes no sense to me. Even with Medicare, I have to pay a $30 co-pay for any specialist, and to see my therapist and psychiatrist.
Having trouble paying my bills and affording food, I go without some medications.
I am barely making it now, and in seven years I will stop getting trust payments. I am worried about how and where I'll live then. Since I have to use it to live on, I won't even have anything saved up.
I've tried finding a home business, but I have no money for things like advertising.
I'm currently trying to make money selling advertising on a community website (mypensacoladaily.com) and I'm a rep for Xpress Healthcare, trying to build a business with it.
Despite trying different ways to earn from home, my depression, pain and fatigue seem to undermine my best efforts.
I had Lasik eye surgery in 2000, which caused me nothing but problems. I currently cannot focus with my left eye, and the doctor can't correct it with a lens. I'm told the cornea has a scar on it. I'm losing my vision.
I don't have a social life outside of church. I spend most of my time alone, working on the computer, trying to make some money.
I'm told I make too much money to qualify for any kind of extra help. I feel I'm being penalized because my dad left me some money, even though I'm barely making it for food or medication.
A grant or any kind of help would be great. I need to be able to meet my currents needs, and in the future be able to live in a decent place, when the trust checks run out.
I hate to think that I will have to spend all the trust money just trying to survive, and not be able to save any of it for the future.