Transitioning to Disability

Over the last couple of months, my disability has worsened severely.  Word from my doctors is that, even in the best case scenario, I will never get better, just not worse.  Not very encouraging, but that’s the way it is.  This news has several impacts on my life plans; primarily, that I will never be able to work a forty-hour week or to do work requiring manual dexterity.  There go my plans of being a professor.

So, welcome to the World of New Plans.  New Plans that don’t include grad school – what’s the point if the only reason I went to grad school was to be a professor?  This quarter was overwhelming enough that I have decided finish out the quarter as a teaching assistant, but not as a student.  I’ve talked to someone in the department administration who is going to help me to keep getting paid, even though I’m only TAing and not going to class.  It involves a bit of subterfuge, but I am comfortable with that.

I was curious about how my time is spent compared to someone without a disability.  The results were pretty shocking:

  • After considering time needed for sleep, for my commute, and a frankly generous estimation of time spent in the doctor’s office and/or pharmacy, a TAB in my situation would have about 105 hours.  I have about 46 hours.  This is before considering a work-week.  46/105 is 44%.
  • After a forty-hour work-week, a TAB would have about 65 hours.  I have 6.  6/65 is 9%.
  • If instead I worked a twenty-hour work-week, I would have 26 hours to a TAB’s 65.  26/65 is 40%.  That’s a number I’m willing to deal with.

I am meeting with my therapist/social worker TN this afternoon.  We will discuss the best way to go about the mountain of paperwork and hostility that is the application for disability benefits.  Fortunately, I have paid into the system just long enough to be covered.  What happens to people who have been disabled since childhood?

This decision has been an excruciating one to make.  I feel such a weird combination of failure and relief; I may fail at having a normal life, but I will finally be able to help with dinner, dishes, or laundry.  My husband and I will be under so much less stress, even when we transition from full-time pay to half-time pay at the end of this quarter.  There are a lot of things that have to go right for this to work, but we have enough savings to get through most of the negative outcomes.  The others, no amount of savings could help us, so I’m not going to kick myself over those.

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About deepbreathingroom

I am a graduate student in Chicago. This is an account of how I spend the least interesting of my time...medical stuff. So, feel free to keep up. Wordpress syndicates via rss for the truly lazy (um, like me). If you want to follow my personal blog, PM me and I may give you the link, may not. View all posts by deepbreathingroom

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