Friday, May 20, 2011

The Disabled Guy and paper underpants

Last month sometime, we got a packet of forms from the State of Wisconsin. That makes it a bit convenient since we live in Wisconsin. The forms were long and a little complicated. I told DG about it, since we'd have to do them together (some of it required knowing how he felt at that particular moment and such). Then we sort of forgot. A week later, we got a reminder letter, gently nudging us to send the forms back.

Instead, I called the number they included so I could ask some questions before we dove into the ridiculous mess. I dialed the number, then at the prompt, the extension. Then I got the voicemail message of the person who sent the letter, stating the typical "can't take your call because I'm on another line or away from my desk"... I left the appropriate message with both our land line and my mobile numbers. Nothing. They never called back.

A week later, they sent another packet of papers, this one stating we had a doctor appointment- and when I say "we", obviously I mean him- for May 20th. I had to fill out a form saying that DG would go to that appointment. I sent that form back. Days later, I got another form telling me that I had accepted the appointment and that I should return this form to them upon completion of said appointment and they'd send us a check for $11.68. Then the doctor's office sent us a bunch of paperwork that I had to fill out.

All so we could see if the Disabled Guy was still disabled.

A quick run-down: April 13, 1995 a 28-year-old man suffered a massive stroke. The result of said stroke left him paralyzed on his right side. He has no use of his right hand or arm, eventually he started to walk, but with a significant limp. He also had to re-learn how to speak and even now, 16 years later, still has trouble with that part. Within six months of the stroke, he was approved for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and a couple months later, he was approved for SSD (Social Security Disability). He has never had to go to a doctor appointment to determine his disability that wasn't related to the veteran's hospital. So, he's been receiving disability on a monthly basis, since late 1995. And now, in 2011, they decide he needs an exam by a doctor that is not his own, to determine if he's disabled.

The doctor, after explanation as to why we were even there, asked, "Why are you even here?" then after I said I didn't know, he shrugged and said, "Oh well..."

Before the doctor came in, though, we had to do the usual with the nurse. Blood pressure, weight, height... you know the drill. After she did all that, she said to DG: "Now, I'm going to need you to remove all your clothes, down to your underwear, and put on the gown."

When she got to "underwear", DG's eyes darted around and he chuckled, which made me laugh. Before I could explain to the nurse, DG said: "Uhh... well... I don't wear underwear." and he turned a few shades of red.

She said, "Oh, you're not the first and you certainly won't be the last!" and pulled a pair of paper shorts out of a drawer.

DG wasn't too thrilled about the paper underpants. When we were alone in the room, he took off his clothes and put on the paper underpants. At his request, I cropped the photo to his liking (he's not happy with the 220 pounds he weighs). But I also took a photo of him from behind, so you can catch a glimpse of his paper underpants. Which, by the way, he had to keep pulling up because they didn't fit properly.

As you all know, he's a total ham.

Blue paper underpants.

After he changed and climbed up on the exam table, he sat there, swinging his left leg and looking around the somewhat bare room. Then he started making faces. And if I wasn't looking at him, he'd make noises. Fish lips, "blurp-blurp". Duckface followed by a bad impression of the Burgess Meredith "Penguin" from the old "Batman" TV series (I don't know why a duck-face sounded like the Penguin).

DG: "Hurry up, guy. I'm sitting here naked!"

Me: "You're not naked."

DG: "This is paper!"

Me: "Just the shorts."

DG: "Still! That's wrong!" Then back to the face-making and weird noises.

I asked him why he was making noises. He replied, "It wasn't me." When I asked who it was, he answered: "Bob." When I told him I didn't know anyone named Bob, he said: "Well, you do now!"

So, the doctor finally comes in. And I explain to him what I told you all above. More than once the doctor expressed his confusion as to why we were even there. He did the exam, which was typical. Asked if he was paralyzed, how much use of his arm and hand he had, if he could walk, how long he could stand. He asked if he had any trouble with communication. DG said, "No."

I exclaimed, "What!?"

DG: "I don't!"

I said to the doctor, "He does. He's got aphasia and apraxia. I mean, I even write a blog about him called Conversations with the Disabled Guy." (that made the doctor chuckle) And we established that he does indeed have some communication issues, but he can carry on a fairly normal conversation. And that was meant loosely- because obviously not every conversation we have ends up on this blog.

Then he had to ask him ridiculous things like having DG identify things around the office (the doctor's tie, the knot at the top, where we were [DG said "Earth"], ink pen, glasses, and so on). Then he asked DG to repeat this sentence, verbatim: "For a nation to be independent and secure, it needs an abundant supply of oil."

DG's eyebrows went up. He stared intently at the doctor. He raised his hand slightly, as if he were going to grasp the words in the air. "Can I get you to say that again?"

Doctor: *speaking slowly, but not pausing* "For a nation to be independent and secure, it needs an abundant supply of oil."

DG watched him with such intensity that I thought he was going to end up kissing the doctor. He looked at me and I knew that if I said the first three words, he would have picked it up, but I couldn't. That's why we were there- to show his disability. DG said: "Uh... one more time?" So he said it again. And again. And a fifth time.

Each time, DG stared at the doctor, his eyes as wide as his squinting would allow (DG has squinty eyes). And he'd glance at me, then he'd look back at the doctor. And the whole time, he had his hand raised slightly.

After the fifth time, DG said: "For... the... world... the world... has... this ain't gonna happen!" and he laughed at himself. I was so glad he laughed at himself. Because it was downright painful to see that look of complete confusion on his face and not be able to help him.

After it was all over, the doctor said he wasn't allowed to comment on whether or not he was disabled. And he read a statement on his paperwork that said something like: "DO NOT discuss the health of the applicant/patient. DO NOT reveal your findings to the applicant/patient." So, basically, he wasn't allowed to say, "Yup, you're disabled."

I said, "Damn. Now I gotta change the name of the blog!"

And we all three laughed. The doctor told us we were done and DG could get dressed and we could leave.

When the doctor left the room, DG stood up quickly and said, "Let me get these goddamn things off my ass!"


Lettie said...

Well, that was one of those situations that was so funny it made me cry. How the hell do you guys keep on going with such strength?

Kind of reminds me of the last heart cath my husband had. Doc came in and told us about his completely collapsed major coronary artery. I said, "Still collapsed? Imagine that!" It was a different cardiologist, but apparently he didn't look at the past records.

DeanieG said...

Good thing you guys have a sense of humor...

babylon sister said...

Believe it or not, some social security disability examiners actually believe people with TBI when they tell them they have no communication problems ;-)

Jessy Marie said...

Haha! The things these doctors make us do just to prove a point (or not prove a point? I'm not sure what the verdict was on that appointment).

You should have had a camcorder to tape his faces and sounds for us. ;)

Ammobunny said...

Wow, looking at that deck, I am VERY envious ... we had a contractor tell us it would cost nearly $7000 to build us a deck that looks very much like that one (and its predecessor) do. He's got a lot of skill!
Re: VA ... yeah. They want to check peroidically to see if my husband's fever related minor brain damage (of 20+ years) has cleared up. Barring the actual clearing up, they think that having good coping mechanisms means it's not a disability. WTF?