Rose Colored Glasses

Oh, those rose colored glasses – tinted with that blend of colors that darkens the suns and tints even the faces of my grandchildren. Those glasses that I wear that allow me to see into a world that I had not planned on being in. A world always tinted that shade of pink with a hue of brown allows me to work and function in the world of bright fluorescent lighting and sunshine. Without them a torrid of symptoms erupt and can cause migraines and eye fatigue.

Oh, those rose colored glasses are so different from the ones I had heard of long ago. Those glasses that people seem to think help you see the world in a positive light. A light that makes all look well and promising. How untrue, how simplistic a view that so many have.  Yet, for me it is a varied type of reality that my rose colored glasses bring. It is the reality of living with a TBI.

Four years ago I was in a rollover. We had just left my grandson’s baseball game and were headed home when we were t-boned. The details of the accident do not matter much, but the changes in the my life do.  That person in that car is no more. Or maybe, I should say that she does exist and is alive, yet the essence of her being is modified.  Back then I lived a life filled with teaching and traveling when I desired via car or plane.  Driving was a joy even in the busy streets of a city as long as I was bound to a site that I’d enjoy the day.  I loved being able to drive to distant places and relish in the cultures and levities of the locale. Now, I am to drive within a twenty minute from home range as to avoid fatigue etcetera.  I am learning to enjoy the local flavor of life. I have found a few places that I did not know of before, but mostly, I miss being able to go on an adventure to the local state parks and sites that I had grown to love. The one I miss the most is being able to go see my grandchildren.  To be there for their ball games, their concerts, and all that life envelops pains me.  I love seeing the photos on Facebook and being able to live through the pictures but it is not the same.  I have wished for one of those self driving cars. I could travel once again as I had to see the animals at the zoo in Cleveland or the Chihuly glass exhibit in a nearby city.  I could go to the markets and venues of Cleveland and maybe even see a professional ball game with the kids.  I miss being able to travel where I wish. I cannot even fly to locations like I used to as I cannot get to the airport without having a driver.  Those rose colored glasses help but they are not an answer.

Oh, those rose colored glasses that once helped me to believe in the system that would be there for me if I needed them are gone. Those glasses filled my mind with illusions that I would one day be taken care of by my retirement system, The process would not be hard and I would get from the system I had paid into what was due. But now that my new rose colored glasses are from whence I see the world I see that the system does not always work.  For those of us with  TBI the proof of our disability is almost impossible.  Then on top of that to find a doctor that will fill out the paperwork is another task indeed. What you think will be there for you might just be an illusion from that old rose colored mentality. Not all is greener on the other side of the fence. True, I know get the standard retirement I would have. I am thankful for the approximately four tenths I made while working. But you need to also see that gone are the days of a full income. Gone are the days of saving for retirement, but more than that gone are the days of living my dream job.  Gone are the days of building up the increments I will be paid. I am here by happenstance not by choice. In addition to the retirement system the settlement from the car insurance company barely covered my medical bills. There is no big pay off in the books for me. It may be possible for some, but my advice is to NEVER rely on it.

My rose colored glasses have helped me to see so many things. There are many who live in this world who may not have on the physical glasses but see the world in a new way. They are like me in that they had one life, had to let it go, and have moved on.  I am blessed to work in a place (part time) where I see these folks daily.  I now cook part time in a county facility where those who need respite care etcetera come to live. Each day when I serve them I see the faces of those who have put aside the life they once had. Some were engineers, soldiers, professors, and laborers for the good of the people. Yet, now for varied reasons they are a new person. A person who lives a life perhaps not by choice, but by the result of a card they were dealt in their lives; vehicle accidents, illnesses, fires that destroyed their homes and took all of their belongings and more.  Those moments that you see on the movies or in the news that seem out of reach for you. Those things are what effects others, not you. Until they do. Then and there the rose colored glasses begin to take on a new shade and color of their own.

I ask today that you take a look at how you see the world. Are you wearing those optimistic, it will never happen to me glasses or are you wearing the type that I have? Seeing the world through a new hue isn’t a bad thing. It can shape you and mold you to be a new person that has strengths and weaknesses like everyone else.  Change is inevitable.  It will happen. I just pray that the way you see the world is not out of a magical belief that all will be the way you plan it.  Life happens, card are dealt. Rose colored glasses are broken.  I pray you will never wear the glasses that I do. But, if you do know that you are not alone.

 

 

 

 

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Ohio Teachers, Did You Know?

Having been through the process of attempting to get disability for two years now through STRS I thought I would journal some of my experiences, not as to complain, but as to allow others to glean from my experiences with that system. As one who believed the system was there in case I needed itH I must admit that I was more than stunned by the paperwork needs for proof. Not because of the difficulty of the task which appears to be quite simple,  but because of the variety of issues trying to figure out how to get the paperwork done. About two years ago I began to collect paperwork to prove my injury from an accident. At that time I did not even know I had a TBI. I went to a neuro psychologist to take his tests and also went to other doctors for documentation. Being that my primary physician would not complete the paperwork I sought out a new doctor that would. That doctor did fill out the first set of paperwork as he promised and I submitted it. The first round of paperwork was declined. I see now that I did not have enough proof. Yet, I hired an attorney and went to court.  (DO NOT pay up front – we lost $2,500 as I thought that cost was for the entire process and it was not.) We lost. That week I called in to the office to report I had gotten the denial and to ask how we should continue to find that my attorney had left the firm. I had no records of what had transpired in court as I did not pay for it to be typed up. I was more than upset. She had never mentioned to me she was leaving the firm.  Moving on I went to therapies for months at a time etc trying to get my vision returned to normal. It was during this process that I learned I have post traumatic vision syndrome and a TBI. It can be improved through therapy, I was told. The therapy made me ill and I really hated doing it. I went from there to find a neuro ophthalmologist to be told that nothing could be done and that the therapy was a waste of time and money. I needed to accept what was happening. My vision issues were permanent.  But, that doctor who was an MD would not sign the paperwork for disability. You see, I had a signed paper from an eye doctor that is world renowned for her vision therapy techniques but because she was not an MD or DO (which I thought was a doctor of optometry) , her paperwork would be acceptable as additional commentary but without the signature of an MD the paperwork would not even be looked at.  I went to so many MDs trying to get paperwork signed. But, as many of you know a TBI is not easy to prove.  Meanwhile, my attorney had told me that a  new person was taking over my file. He let me know that when I had a doctor that would sign the paperwork he would help. Basically until then I was on my own. I was told that I had the EASY part getting the doctors to sign the form. He gave me no suggestions as who to go to for the form to be signed nor any help at all. He seemed to be one that gathered my paperwork and sat on it while I did the work.  When I attempted to give the firm a bad rating I got a letter in the mail that was not nice. I got scared. Anyway, finding a doctor to sign the paper is not an easy task and will be a topic of another blog. I went to visit STRS when I was almost out of time and the person assisting me explained to me that there are teachers in Ohio that are completely blind and teach. Even if I went totally blind I could not get disability from STRS.  I called senators and congressmen trying to find help. They said it was not their jurisdiction although one did call STRS to state I had called them. ?? Not much help in my eyes.  I ended up not being able to get a doctor to fill out my form so that STRS would review my file a second time. I recently ran out of time and am now waiting on paperwork for standard retirement to process.

 

Those of you who teach in Ohio, I suggest that you not rely on the STRS disability system.  It is not what I thought it was at all.  I have had no income now for over two years. I will not have an income for a month or so even with the standard retirement. When you file for that you cannot work for a few months, even part time. Paperwork takes time. When I tried to work a few hours during the process even the local service to assist those who are disabled told me that I could not work and file as STRS is very picky and will decline an application for anything they can.  I might be able to work a part time job a few days a week but have been unable to do so. You cannot get unemployment during the process either. If you do that you are in fact stating that you can work. You will be denied if you take unemployment.  In addition most all applications are denied the first round. You will need to be seen by the STRS doctors that they assign you to. Some say that they have more clout than the doctors you choose to go to.  I am not one that knows that but can see how it can happen. My suggestion would be to look into a disability rider on your insurance. It would possibly help to pay your bills during the process. People have lost their homes etc. during this process. I also suggest that you spend less out of your pocket for classroom materials. Put that money in the bank. You might need it one day to buy food for your loved ones.  By the way, if you become disabled and do not have enough years in service you may need to wait to get payment from your file. I was told I needed a certain number of years to get retirement at my age or I would need to wait until I turn 60 to get anything. Know the rules. Pay off you house. Pay off your cars. Be ready in case. I am blessed to have a spouse that supported me.  Can you live on one income for years? Are you a single income family?

Ohio teachers, did you know all of this? I will write more when I can. Eyes are tired. I want to let others know what you face in the real world. It is not an easy thing to get. Your life can change permanently at any moment. HUGZ