Since that was late Friday afternoon, I wasn't able to do much else, but my appointment on Monday wasn't until 1:30 p.m. I spent the weekend completing the applications to the best of my ability, and early Monday morning I went back to Social Services to see about getting an interview. I was there for just about three hours and processed all the necessary information which was available at the time. The lady who interviewed me gave me the first sense of hope I've had in a long time, and she also gave me a checklist with more forms to be filled and documents to be submitted. I came home, had breakfast, and prepared to leave for my doctor appointment.
The results of the babesiosis testing were negative. The results for Lyme disease, however, were clearly positive. As the doctor described it, "I've never seen results this positive." With my asking, she explained that—simplified—one branch of the test is for long-term antibodies and the other branch is for short-term antibodies (IgG and IgM). The long-term antibodies should always be present, and therefor that portion of the test should always be positive once I've had a positive result. The short-term antibodies, however, should disappear in two to three months, and those results were as clearly positive as the rest. This means I have an ongoing infection for which the two previous rounds of antibiotics—doxycycline from January to February 2005 and amoxicillin from August to September 2005—were ineffective. The new problem is that while the doctor could cheaply give me doses of doxycycline, it would not cure the disease, as it failed to do the first time. I would need to take a combination of at least two antibiotics, preferably mixed with some probiotics in a fancy cocktail to stave further negative effects. The treatment period would be a minimum of five to six months, and she suspects in my case that treatment would be upwards of a year.
The Disability Incapacitation 402B form the lady from Social Services told me to have my doctor fill and return was not something the internist could complete, and she didn't know anyone who could. The doctor recommended I try Patient First, an urgent care center practically on my way home from her office, while the nurse and receptionist recommended a Lyme literate physician in the same area. I called the physician and was told he no longer treats Lyme disease, does not accept medical assistance, and does not perform this from of evaluation. The internist also is not involved with the medical assistance program, which requires doctors to register an account with Social Services in order to receive payment. It seems similar to how doctors are not required to accept Medicaid, and many of them don't because Medicaid often doesn't pay them or takes a long time to do so. I went to Patient First, where they said I should have received a list from Social Services of providers who could perform the evaluation. They couldn't help me directly—not for the $60 on the voucher Social Services gave me but for an amount closer to $600—but they were very nice, and the doctor on staff sat and talked with me, sympathized, and did her best to search for other organizations that might help. She mistakenly thought I was already receiving medical assistance, and that was the reason Shepherd's Clinic wouldn't be able to accept me. This wasn't the case, so I called Shepherd's Clinic the next day—as they are closed on Mondays—and finally learned of the two organizations in the area which perform these evaluations: JAI Medical Center and Total Health Care. Total Health Care requires appointments and would not have seen me until Sunday; JAI Medical Center does not accept appointments, being a walk-in clinic, but could see me the next day if I arrived early enough.
In the meantime, tim_dodge wrote a letter for he and my other roommates to sign, verifying my portion of the rent; I was able to find my birth certificate in my old medical bag from 2005; and obtaining a copy of the lease on our apartment was easy. While at the leasing office, I also reported some maintenance issues and received refrigerator magnets with the appropriate phone numbers on them.
Yesterday involved an hour or so of driving separated by five hours and 20 minutes spent at JAI Medical Center, filling out paperwork and being evaluated. When all was said, written and done, I left the building with a completed 402B form indicating the need for a year of medical assistance, including psychiatric treatment, to bring to Social Services when I have the rest of my documents. I have been playing a game of phone tag with a disability advocacy group, whom I will call again after posting this, and the last thing I need is to print bank statements and collect proof of application for disability through Social Security. Today will be trying to coordinate with the advocates, as this is a very important step in applying for disability, I gathered, and I certainly would like some recommendations at the very least. I have a good body of evidence to support a case for temporary disability, though I understand that unless one is terminal, there is a high chance of initial denial. If I cannot make progress with the advocates by tomorrow morning, I may apply for disability on my own anyway to provide those documents to Social Services.
I will not be able to receive cash assistance of any kind until my unemployment benefits are gone, which will be soon. Once I receive my final check, and I bring all the documents required to Social Services, I should be able to begin receiving cash, medical and food stamps assistance, at least until I begin receiving disability benefits, which could easily take upwards of a year without advocacy. Thankfully it appears I should be able to receive at least one year of assistance while I try and improve my quality of life. I am feeling substantially hopeful for the first time in years, and I truly hope things continue to move in the current direction towards assistance and treatment. I hope I can also gain further diagnoses for my gluten intolerance and hyperglycemia, preferably ones that are treatable and can expand my dietary boundaries. I will continue working towards these goals.
It seems silly to me that one must lose everything in order to gain any support, but I am glad at least that things are beginning to move in a good direction for me. Assuming all goes well in this process, this will also help me assist my roommates in purchasing a house and possibly reduce my monthly costs. My greatest hope is that while I am gaining assistance, my health will improve enough that I can begin some of the creative projects I've had in mind that may help garner future income. Perhaps I'll be able to coordinate with some people that can help me achieve those goals.
In the meantime, I'm going to make that phone call and hope to obtain an advocate today.