Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Denied Worker's Compensation

Today, I received an email from my worker's compensation adjuster. In the email, she thanked me for my patience and then bluntly said, "there will be no claims paid."

I immediately sent it to my Human Resources department and the Executive Director. I had been talking to my old supervisor all morning about how difficult it is to forgive the woman who choked me when I feel that I have all the repercussions for the assault she did onto me. She assured me that the woman is deeply sorry and she hasn't been in the office until recently.

Of course, after the email, I was sobbing. I met the ED in the hallway who said, "HR will know how to appeal it. I'm sorry to hear that," as he cleaned his oatmeal bowl and quickly walked out of the room. I went to the HR's office- Empty. I sat on the couch and waited for her return from, what I assume was, her smoke break. "What's going on?" she asked as though she had been forced to say it. I told her I was denied worker's compensation and her response was, "Yeah, I got the email." Really? Then why'd you ask? Why else would I come into your office? Certainly not for a social visit.

We called WC and the adjuster said I was denied medical bill reimbursement because I did not go to WC approved doctors. I need a referral from the doc-in-the-box they send us to for Worker's Comp and preliminary drug testing. Even if I go now, they will not make it retro-active.

I went to that doc-in-the-box and saw the same doctor that evaluated my neck injury hours after the assault. We had a heated conversation where I learned that, despite my lack of a medical degree, I should have told him that I needed to see a therapist when I saw him in September. Then he would have referred me to one but now, he can't say to go to a therapist because I am already seeing one; he wants me to stay with this therapist because he knows the whole story already... He suggested I go back to my HR. Yes, the lady who told me to go to this doctor and asked me, "What do you want me to do? You act like I have some power in all this!" Human Resources at its finest.

I am calling every attorney I know, gathering all my documents, apply for government funded assistance because the company, that my organization pays to cover their employees after things like assaults, decided not to pay out money that has been paid to them for this exact reason.

When the assault happened, all the supervisors were happy to help and expressed how I "deserved" compensation for this attack. Now, no one feels it is there job to make it happen.

There is light at the end of the tunnel; This tunnel is just really long.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Homemade, homegrown salsa verde

Mmmm. As the winter approaches, we are coming to our last harvests. Today was our tomatillos and pepper.
I roasted the tomatillos and pepper, after halving them, until blackened. In a pot I added olive oil, onion and garlic. I chunked the harvest and added it to the pot. If I had lime, I'd add it now but I just added some salt and veggie stock. Simmered; blended; simmer until thick. Booyah! It is amazing with my black bean quesadillas.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bloody Mary Costume

I was on the phone with my friend, Mary, deciding what we should be for Halloween. We played off her name and favorite drink and came up with Bloody Mary! The drink!

So, she's going to put celery sticks in her hair and I came up with crocheted olives!! The larger one could be a necklace or another hair accessory, maybe a bracelet. Total costume picture to come! :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Back to the grind

Last week I was offered another (temporary) position at work at the same rate. Because our offices are moving, they will hire me to aid in the moving- organizing, shredding, files... until the end of the year.

I have some apprehension about going back. The idea of the office where participants can just show up, frightens me. The other night I was thinking and preparing myself for going back as I laid in bed about to fall asleep. Before I knew it, I could picture myself moving a box in the corner of the office, turning around and seeing her. Blocking me from the door. And then I felt her hands around my neck again. It triggered a panic attack, as you can imagine. I woke up Eli and took a anxiety pill to calm me down.

Since then, I've been trying to rationalize the likelihood of that happening. I know it would be very unlikely. I know I can prevent it and I know if it did happen, I would be able to call out for help.

I am still nervous about going and thought about it all night.

Here's hoping!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Never stops

Eli used to joke that my full time job is my health- Not so funny now!

Friday, as we were heading out of town to get away from ourselves, we got a call from the APD (Atlanta Police Department), asking for more information about my assault. They asked for the attacker's birthday with exact year, address and I'm sure other things I can't think of now. All stuff I gave to the investigator on Monday. "Who did you speak with? We don't have anyone here by that name. Were you at zone 3?" I was at zone 5- where they told me to go last week. Where they took my written statement and got all her corrected information. "Did you call zone 5?"

She actually said, "I don't have any reason to call zone 5." She, the investigator, wanted me to call my work to get the above information and call her back. I called zone 5 to send her the information.

The weekend was a much needed getaway with my in-laws. Eli ran a race and came in first for his age group, that is slowly climbing... so is mine. Great for his race times; not so great for one who sits around all day investigating her own assault...

We took our 85 pound, five year old puppy to the beach to let her run. She was so excited and happy. Each time running to the water and back to me, almost to check in with me. On the beach, alone, I felt safe and sound. Free of fear and anxiety.

As we left, of course, we started to talk about our next move. The thought of going into the office that has supported this woman, for probably close to 20 years, tightens my shoulders and sends a pain through my gut. I ball up in the passenger seat, the seat she sat in when she reached for my throat. Then the thought of other participants- people who have yelled at me before, people who have records, people I used to want to help have now become masses of furry concealed until I unleash it. She is still receiving services while I am locked in my home, waiting for a warrant to be served.

I ran errands today and was feeling good. I have only taken my klonopin when I can feel a panic attack coming on and have even started splitting the pills in half. And then the phone rings. It's not the police, or the worker's compensation firm, or my office. It was my nurse for my gynecology/oncologist. My appointment is tomorrow but this was not a routine phone call to verify my appointment. She said, "I know you are coming here tomorrow but I wanted to know if you want to go ahead and schedule the surgery?"

The surgery?! I don't even know what the diagnosis is. I don't even know what "the surgery" is! This is not what you want to hear when you are on Prozac and klonopin to "just get by"!

24 hours from the phone call, I will find out what she is talking about. I'm hoping for the best... surgery?... is there such a thing?

Monday, September 26, 2011

The aftermath

Today was my day to get things "in order". I met a new therapist who seems to understand that things were bad before the attack and now things are just a horrible!

Next, Zone 5 precinct to press charges. The investigator seemed helpful and concerned for the most part but was a but surprised when I mentioned the doctor put me on major anti-anxiety medication and I have not returned to work. Hummm...

Then, the phone calls. HR rep called- I need to talk to an adjuster to get my medical costs paid; I can't just see who I want, I need to go where they send me; Unless I've already seen one, in which case I need to give my statement to the adjuster and they may need to contact the doctor... Worker's Comp lawyer- We need to set up an appointment to get the story down and see if we have a case; and next week won't work for him, how 'bout Wednesday? Afternoon? Fine. (I feel like he's a lawyer...)

By 3pm I was ready to be alone and not talk about it. I sent Ophie to the neighbors' and turned on my appletv to catch up on reruns. I tried, at the urging of my doctors, to delay dosing until I can get a feel for how I am doing each day. If I can get through the morning without a crying spell, I'm good. By lunch, even better. Unfortunately, about 3 pm was the tipping point.

Depression began to set in. It quickly turned to panic; sporadic breathing and uncontrollable shaking. The medication is pretty fast acting but it took about 20 minutes for me to calm down.

I called for reinforcements. Emily and Casey came over to snuggle. Casey has turned into a gentle, caring little lady who could make anyone smile. She gently rubbed my back just like my dad used to when I'd stay home from school. She showed me pictures of her trip to Six Flags and was so funny. The medication began to do it's job.

Tomorrow is another day. No plans. Just working on me.

I wonder if my participant will be in the office for her bi-weekly meeting.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Minute by minute

I have always worked in a "social worker" setting, meaning that when I explain my job to people, I usually get one of two responses: "It takes a special person to do what you do. God bless you!" or "That is so great; I really need to start volunteering too!" Although they both are true-it does take a special person and you should volunteer, it makes me feel like they don't get what I do.

A day in the life is usually pretty mundane. I am the same person at work that I am anywhere. I usually make jokes, I try to make people smile, I question the unknown and I try to learn more about my participants. On most days, when I don't have to do paperwork or get yelled at, I love my job. Many participants become confidants and friends. I care about them and I feel that most of them care for me-The ones that call me back anyway.

Thursday started out like any other day. I had my coffee and began to plan my day. In order to be most efficient I decided to get a form for services signed at Grady Hospital before heading to my participant's house. Grady sits between our homes and I could get it signed faster alone than with my participant. It took some time but I ended up getting to the participant's house at the perfect time to leave and go to her dentist appointment across town. She came down and got in the car in her usual fashion- she gives me a hard time about not knowing if it's me in the car, she never wants to put on her seat belt unless I tell her to... she asked how I was feeling because the day before, I was home sick. She thought it was stomach issues but really I had a panic attack dealing with my doctors and insurance company. I reminded her we were going to the dentist and she got excited and started checking herself out in the visor mirror, flattening her hair and checking her profile.

I checked the GPS and it has us getting there in 21 minutes. I checked the clock. It was 10:41am. I started to pull away. I left her parking lot and made the first right turn. I drive especially careful with participants in my car. I would never want to cause an accident at all but especially on work time with a participant. We were stopped at the light. I knew she would not like signing the form I had half completed with the doctors earlier because she gives us a hard time every year. I began to tell her, "I'm sorry I was sick yesterday and had to cancel our appointment but I was able to get the form filled out earlier this morning..." She did not appreciate this. She began to get her bag and open the car door. All I was thinking was that she was so upset and when she gets upset it could lead to a seizure. I didn't want her to get hurt on the street alone. I convinced her to get in the car and I will take her to the doctor so we can talk about this.

I can't remember exactly what she said then, but I can still hear her yell, "Don't you EVER!" as she lunged at my throat with her right hand and pulled my head back by my hair with her left hand. I screamed her name. I asked her to let go and began to convince her that I could not drive like this. She would need to put on her seat belt and we will go to the doctor to talk to them about this form. It seemed like she held me over the center console for minutes. I know it was only a couple seconds. I felt like it was someone else. Not me and not her. This is not how our relationship was. A few days earlier our intern noticed how "protective she is of" me.

We sat in silence for the four minutes it took to get to the hospital. My entire body was shaking. I sat as far to the left of my seat as I could get with my right shoulder close to my ear to fend off any more attacks. My mind was so calm and rational. I remember just thinking as if this was another part of our day. It was like my body and my mind were disconnected. My body trembled in fear while my mind was still at work, thinking methodically what to do next.

She would not let me drop her off in front of the hospital to go up alone. She would not go without me. She saw this as my fault; my wrong doing. I never would have thought my meticulous planning would have lead to such a violet reaction from my "friend". I told her I would park and go with her while thinking, "Once I get her out, I'm leaving." She knew this.

That is one of the most misunderstood things about my job. People hear "developmental disabilities" and "low IQs" and think they are dumb. But make no mistake, they can be logical, methodical and manipulative. Survival is inherent and when one feels that they are at risk, that trait kicks in. The problem I experienced was that she saw what I did as putting her at risk. She lashed out irrationally but it was all very logically executed and intended.

She knew I needed her out in order for me to get away. She sat in the car and motioned for me to turn off the car. I did. She went immediately for my keys. She grabbed the bunch of them but I could see my car key swinging above her fisted hand. I told her to give me my keys. She would not. I remember looking at the man standing on the side walk just over her shoulder. He saw my eyes. He saw her. I called her name again and she went to hit me with her fist of my keys. She just missed my face but caught my lip- probably with my boxy Prius key flailing about! I focused in on my car key and went for it.

Two months ago when we bought the car we were given two keys. One had a sturdy key ring and the other had one of the cheapy, flexible rings that you get at the mechanic's. I was handed the latter and thought, "Eli won't notice but I'll switch it out later. I want the 'real' key not the secondary key!" Thankfully I never got around to that. When I grabbed the key from my participant's hand it was only because the ring was weak that I could separate it from the rest of the keys and from her.

With key in hand, I jumped out of the car and hauled ass down the street toward the hospital and crowds of people. She can't walk as fast as I can so I knew I would be able to out run her- yes, even me. I was across the street and waited for her to get out of the car. I tried to call 911 but my hands were shaking so much it kept coming out 611 or 922. She got out of the car but stood there with the door open for a few seconds. Once she shut that door, I was going to hit the alarm and just keep running. She did and I did. She started walking toward me and the hospital. She continued to follow me until she realized that I was going to stay well ahead of her. She turned and disappeared behind the building.

The next few minutes I hid in the adjacent parking structure looking for any sign of her. I didn't know if she would go wait at my car or go in to the doctor's office. I just hid behind a van with my back to a fence hoping that she wouldn't find me.

I called the office so many times. When I wouldn't get an answer at the front desk I just started dialing three digit extensions hoping I would get someone. No one answered! I finally called my sister and all I could say was, "I need help! I'm at Grady and 'she' attacked me! Please come got me. She has my keys. I don't know where she is! No one is answering at work!" In a heart beat, my sister headed down to get me.

My legs felt like jelly. Again, my body was weak but my mind was racing. I called a co-worker's cell phone and told the same story. He would come and get her and suggested I call the police right away. A call came in on the other line. It was her nurse. She said, "she is up here with me... she wants me to tell you that she doesn't want you around her again." Really!? "I can do that. Is she up there with you?" The nurse repeated at least two more times that she was up there with her and I knew it would be save for me to make the half block sprint for the car.

I checked the back seat like an axe murderer was chasing me in a movie. I don't think I even checked traffic- I just pulled out and headed to the office. Every street on the way to the office was where one client of another lived. I checked my door lock probably three times. Of course when I pull into the parking lot it was like a space invaders game dodging around all the people, construction and vehicles through out the tiny lot. I nestled my car between two SUVs hugging the line, slammed the door and ran inside.

I knew all the "higher-ups" were in a meeting but I didn't expect them all to be in the front office and I didn't expect a stranger in there. I walked right into the meeting room to find familiar faces and one unknown man who, no doubt, was important financially or politically to our organization. I took a step back to shield him from the trauma pouring down my face. I mouthed, "I need someone!" I sat in the chairs for intended for our guests and waited for anyone to come and comfort me. When they approached I couldn't contain myself and started telling my story through short breaths of anxiety. I'm sure the VIP I tried to protect from the story heard the whole thing once I started exclaiming the incident in the front office.

They escorted me to a more private room. I could hardly walk. I felt like my body had no bones; I was just a jelly mass. I asked for water. Holding the mug in my hands, I had to concentrate so hard to not drop it. I couldn't control my hands; they shook uncontrollably. By now, my mind and body had connected again and my thoughts were as frantic as my hands.

We agreed that I should file a police report and get checked out at the clinic. My sister arrived and drove me to find a police station. Even with two iPhones, we couldn't find one so we headed to the clinic. Of course when we called my husband and told him everything was ok now and he didn't need to come down, he was not ok and needed to be with me. My sister filled out the forms as my hands were still shuddering as we waiting for Eli and the police. Office Huntely met us in the waiting room and took my statement. He was compassionate and authoritative. The nurse called me back as we were finishing up the interview. The police have her name, her address and a description. I could tell them how she walks, how she talks, where her doctors are, where she banks. I was a major part of her life.

In the exam room, after waiting the obligatory 30 minutes to been seen, the doctor came in. I told the "short version" of my tale and he assisted me onto the exam table. I sat eye to eye with the doctor as he looked at my neck. "I can see some discoloration and bruising here... Does this hurt?" As he examined my neck, inside and out, I could feel the air conditioning blow across the scratches left behind from the attack. He suggested I stay out of work today but can return tomorrow. "Take some ibuprofen for stiffness."

Unfortunately, I did not have the wherewithal to stop him and tell him the fear this materialized. The anxiety I had on a daily basis before this attack! That there are days when I am afraid to get the mail from my mailbox just 50 feet from my front door. That I stay up nights thinking that someone might kick in my back door. General anxiety comes and goes. Some days, I'm normal. But most days I am secretly strategising contingency plans if something should go wrong. That may be what got me out of the car and out of her grips.

Before picking up a new client I always think about what I would do if something went wrong. It's not always personal attacks or even scary things. For my deaf client, I work on sentences in sign language while driving to her house. I think about car accidents or tires popping on the freeway. I've thought about personal attacks but I never thought I'd have to live it.

That night I laid close to my husband. When the house got quiet, I could hear the day over and over in my head. I heard her yelling demands at me. I heard me pleading for her to stop. The ceiling fan still swept air against the scratches reminding me of the feeling of her hand on my neck. "Only six more hours until I see my doctor."

I had originally set up this doctor appointment as a routine visit to get a refill on medication and get referrals to my specialists. I checked in as routine. I met the nurse as always. When we went back to the private room I had reached my breaking point when she asked gently and with a smile, "What's the reason for today's visit?"

Tears welled up instantly, "I am supposed to get referrals but... I was attacked at work yesterday..." She didn't expect it. I could tell she wanted to get what information she could without offending me or making things worse. As she was getting up to get the doctor she said in the sweetest voice, "I'm gonna give you this box of kleenex, and this hug because I know you need it!"

The doctor explained that the referrals will be taken care of but wanted to know what happened yesterday. I told her the story and she immediately began to propose a healing plan. She was aware of my general anxiety and knew this attack alone would deeply affect anyone. She prescribed klonopin, a fast acting anti-anxiety medication, to get me through the weekend until I can see a therapist. She suggested I see someone who specializes in trauma or PTSD. She also suggested I never go back to that job.

The medication has certainly made it easier to talk about the attack. I have been able to sleep. In the car I still check the door lock as if she is standing outside trying to get in. After a year of working with her, there are still everyday things that remind me of her; A song on the radio, a store we shopped at. Happy memories have become an alleyway back to the attack.

I am on leave at work and am not sure when or if I'll go back. For years my doctors have been urging me to get out of the disability/social work field for my own mental health. I don't know if that is even possible in this economy. How do you find a job outside of a field that your resume was built on?

I have strong support in friends and family who love me. I know this is yet another obstacle we will get over. At times I think about if it happened to someone I love and I thank God it was me and not them. If I was taking life one day at a time before, now I'll have to take it one hour at a time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hilarious podcast!

My friend posted this on my facebook wall. If ever there was a story like mine but different... here it is! (Language not suitable for my nieces... lets just say that...)

After you hear this, you have to know how much I love my husband. He makes me laugh, he has always taken care of me and most heroically, he has cleaned up my bags of poop! I love you E and hope I am there for you just half as much as you have been for me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cut the CRAP! TP evaluation installment 1:Cottonelle Aloe and Vitamin E

When you have your colon removed, everyone, if they know or not, will tell you that you'll have to get used to the frequent bathroom visits. What they don't tell you is the enormous influx of the use of toilet paper; and with that, of course, the changing of the rolls!!

It seems like every time I go to the bathroom, I have to change the roll. Sharing my bathroom with a man who, lets be honest, "wipes" at school or at work more than he does at home, chances are good, I'll need to change the roll more than he does. I'm sure most sitter/stander couples go through the same thing. But do you go through it every day and a half? That's how quickly we go through a roll. And I'm talking a double roll of Kleenex Cottonelle.

Now, bottom line, my bottom line deserves the best after what we've been through. Not to mention the wet, irritated... situation down there that comes with the "new body". I deserve the best... I just haven't found it yet!

I have been using not only Cottonelle double roll, but Cottonelle Double roll with Aloe and Vitamin E! I thought it would soothe my toosh. I was wrong!

Evaluation: I need something to stand up to wetness, creams, ointments, fronts and backs, and can do it with less irritation and less squares! After weeks of using this brand, I found that this puppy doesn't stand up to my... puppy! Although it is soft, Fido falls apart when fetched to wipe up my business. I didn't notice any soothing going on with or without the added Aloe and E. :( In Kleenex's defence, I do like the wet wipes!

Back to the drawing board. Maybe I'll try the bears?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Knitted Coffee Snuggly

I used bamboo yarn, Size 10 needles. This is my first pattern so tell me if I wrote something wrong. :)

Coffee Snuggly

Size 10 needles


Cast on 18 stitches

Row1 (rs): (K1, P1) 9 times

Row2 (ws): (P1, K1) 9 times

Row3 (rs): (K1, P1){K1, K1, K1, K1, P1, K1, K1, K1, K1, P1, K1, K1, K1, K1} (P1, K1)

Row4 (ws): (P1, K1) {P1}14 times (K1, P1)

Row 5: repeat row 3

Row 6: repeat row 4

Row 7: K1, P1, C4B, P1, C4B, P1, C4B, P1, K1

Row8: repeat row 4

Continue to repeat pattern (Row 3-8) until your work is about 9 inches long ending on row 8. Work in button holes as follows. K1, P1, K1, yo, k2tog, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1, P1, yo, K2tog, K1, P1, K1.

Finish with:

Row 2

Cast off.

Knit my cares away!

I've been working on health stuff for a few months now. I get tests done and they tell me to do more tests; and then they tell me there was nothing to worry about!

No matter what, I can always use my hands and knit all my cares away. Just in the last week I learned how to follow a pattern for my first baby bib. (Pattern here!)

And I wrote and executed my first pattern!! I'm so excited that I can work on these projects as much or as little as I want. What a great week!