Column by Chris DeWald
In May 2006, I found myself lying in a bed and could not move due to having a bilateral brain-stem stroke. My current insurance company would only treat me enough to get me on my feet and out the proverbial door of a hospital. Now, this is the same insurance that all City of Staunton employees receive, and also employees of the school district.
The bean counters take you to where you are “perceived” to make no further progress, and “zipppppp.” My neurologist advised me when I was at AMC, now Augusta Health, that the insurance company wanted me out, but he was fighting them because he was tired of insurance companies playing the role of doctor. He also had a sincere and noticeable concern for me as a human being.
I was transferred after two weeks as Southern Health did not want me in a higher-priced medical facility to Woodrow Wilson. Now, with me dealing with regulatory agencies in the state for a long time, I became very despondent. I knew what the state does on a bureaucratic level.
I was wrong. A transformation of my way of thinking started evolving. Initially I used up my leave and started existing on shared leave from the support of other city employees. When it was determined by three doctors that my return to work would not happen, I had to apply for disability. The shared leave then stopped. I had earned a payment from the Virginia State Retirement System for my work in the state. I was then made aware that Social Security makes you wait six months before you are eligible for disability. Meanwhile, you waste financially away. Please note, I said eligible, and that Social Security is not as easy to get and was not for me.
Why was I enlightened? The state under Democratic control of the budget cared for those that are brain-injured and provides a great deal of funds to help their down citizens. We have Woodrow Wilson in Fishersville, and it is considered top-notch in the state and other locations.
When I was vice chair for Crossroads to Brain Injury Recovery, it was the Democrats that were behind the budgets for those in need of funds to have a chance at a life or being able to work. This does not mean other politicians did not care, but the ability to see who was coming to the aid of their fellow man was obvious to me.
I have seen all this as I am part of their dividends on being productive. The state took over rendering me rehabilitative care despite me reaching my perceived “physical limitations” during a certain time span. When that happened, the state took over funding me to get back some of my life. What I got back:
1. Self respect.
2. Ability to use my left arm and hand as it went dead. It is numb, but I can use it.
3. Ability to use my numb left leg.
4. Ability to see with both eyes. Yes, a stroke does that. A stroke is mean.
5. Ability to talk and with a bonus, the ability to do public speaking again. This was taught to me by Woodrow Wilson.
6. A leg brace so I did not trip over my curled foot.
7. A power wheelchair as my arteries feeding my brain are extremely occluded
This enabled me to take care of myself, write, articles for those with similar disabilities. This to make people who care for others aware of certain medical conditions.
I am lucky to have been put back together as best they could without the aid of my primary health insurance, which deemed me “unrepairable,” “gone as far as I could,” designations that allow them to drop you.
I have improved so much past their cutoff dates. That is one reason I write, and I do seminars and help brain injury organization in this area now.
There are no politics in brain injuries. Well, it appears some may have had one or two.