March 5, 2007

I'm not going to include detail about my disability, medical proof or anything like that, not only because it's personal, but because it's beside the point.  I don't think Xerox cares one way or the other if I'm disabled or if I can prove it.  They just know that if they put us all through the ringer, they'll save money, because most of us will give up.

Apparently on the same day I was writing my March 1st letter, Sedgwick was writing to me, sending me a batch of forms for me and my doctor.  Here's my cover letter for sending them back:

"Attached are the forms you require, as per your March 1st letter.  I presume these are the forms you should have sent out when my case was transferred in October, but didn’t, that Tracy said she’d mail on February 5th, and didn’t, and that you said you’d fax to my doctor on Feb 28th, and didn’t.  I congratulate you on your nerve to demand they be filled out and returned to you within 30 days."

One of the forms is here.  I ask you, what possible reason besides harassment could they have for not only wanting to know every medication, prescription or OTC, I've taken in the last 6 months, but also what pharmacy I had them filled at?  They give me 5 lines, and my list was over 20.

Allow me to complain a bit about why the list is so long.  I went to the doctor shortly after they cut me off in April and my blood pressure was 220/120.  Since then, I've tried almost a dozen different bp meds.  Last drs visit, it was down to 160/100 and he started me on a second med to try to bring it down more.  He's probably going to wonder why my blood pressure is back up to 170/110 when I'm on more meds, but it's just this Xerox aggravation.

I'd like to get out my records and tell you about all the scummy things Xerox has done to me since I've been sick, and give you all the exact quotes and dates.  But this isn't a court of law and, by the way, I'm sick.  I'm not up to doing all that.  I'll write as best my memory can cover and admit I may have a few details wrong.

I got sick in 1986.  I tried to keep working, I took a lot of sick days, went on Short Term Disability and back a few times.  On Long Term Disability and back once, too, I think.  The pressure from Xerox to go back to work was enormous.  I can't prove it, but I suspect the reason I'm still so sick is all the times I pushed myself to the limit to try to accommodate them. 

One time they sent me for an Independent Medical Exam and told me the doctor had said I could go back to work.  It wasn't until many years later when they cut off my LTD and I requested a copy of my records that I learned that's not exactly what he said.  He said I could attempt a part-time return to work and should then be reevaluated.  But they told me if I didn't come back to work, my disability benefits would be terminated.

I can still remember the experience.  The first two weeks it was so wonderful to be back at work, just 4 hours a day, to feel useful.  I wasn't able to do as much as I had been before I got sick, but still, it was something.  Then I started going downhill.  There were big heavy security doors at the entrance to my building and I remember coming to work one day and, on automatic pilot, pushing the door with my usual effort and it only opened an inch then closed back.  I got it open, but it felt to me like it had tripled in weight overnight, I was so weak.

After the first month, it went from 4 hours a day to 5.  I struggled through each day, telling myself I'd go home and right to bed and feel better in the morning.  Struggling through each week, promising myself I'd spend the weekend in bed and feel better on Monday.  The last straw was the 4-day Thanksgiving holiday, which I spent in bed, but did not feel better on Monday.  I realized it didn't matter if it meant I was going to be homeless soon, I couldn't get out of bed and to work.

I was actually pretty relieved and grateful that they didn't fire me, but put me back on Disability.  I think I made even a few more attempts to return to work, including working from home and it was the following Christmas, 1989,  that I last went officially from Short Term Disability to Long Term Disability.  They had me drag myself in to the office to do the paperwork, either just before Christmas or just after.

They gave me a paper to sign saying they'd given me a copy of the LTD Summary Plan and I said, "Where is it?"  They just looked at each other.  My boss went to his office and photocopied some pages from his Personnel Manual (that was the old days, before it was called Human Resources).  He crossed out the part that said LTD pay was 70% of my former pay and wrote in 60%.  I was too sick to care -- I was just so glad I wasn't going to be homeless. 

I kept those pages for over 10 years thinking they were the Summary Plan, until I was cut off around 2000 and showed them to a lawyer.  And, I may say, I had to fight with Xerox for months to get them to give me a copy.  And then they said I owed them for the cost of sending it to me.  I didn't pay them.

A couple times they sent me for two Independent Medical Exams in a row.  I never did get them to give me copies of all the reports, but apparently, if one IME confirms that I'm disabled, they just sent me to another one, hoping for any excuse to cut me off.

I've got to tell you my favorite quote from one of these reports.  I had told the doctor that, during one of my better periods, I had gone camping with the Sierra Club.  She wrote in her report that I had been hiking the Sierras.  For those of you not familiar with the Sierras, I assure you, I've never in my life been athletic enough to hike them.  And these day the walk to take out the trash is a bit much for me.