Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Eyes Have It

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Went to the eye doctor today.  Not for new prescription glasses or any other potential benefit for my eyes but to get evidence of the severity of the retinitas pigmentosa as the next hoop to jump to qualify for state benefits so that I can have medicare so that I can have my prescriptions for blood pressure and mood disorder now numbering six and maybe stay alive and maybe sane.

And because they didn't schedule the field vision test for this appointment I have to go back again in two weeks for that to get the proof of what the eye doctor today estimated based on his visual observation of my retinas that I now have less than 5 degrees of vision. That's 5 out of the possible 180.

The state defines legal blindness as less than 20 degrees.  I was already at 12 to 15 the first time I went on disability in 1989 and the RP is by definition a degenerative disease and still no cure in sight.  So it would have taken a miracle of Gospel proportions to have changed that yet because I had the  good fortune to be able to go off the disability for over ten years I have to apply again as if I never did.

Do I sound bitter much?  Sorry but something about dealing with the system makes one feel less than.

The system looks at you with soulless eyes as if through a microscope at bacterium on a slide.  So one comes to feel a bit like a bacterium--a parasite needing to be exterminated.

Every time I go in to see my counselor I'm given a form to fill out to measure my subjective sense of my mood that day and one of the questions is: How often in the last two weeks have you felt you were a burden to family and friends?  never, sometimes, half the time, nearly every day, every day.  I always answer one of the last two even when for all the other questions I can answer one of the first two.

And I always silently add 'society' or 'community' to the list after 'family and friends'.

It doesn't help that as a political news junkie I'm tuned into the current debate in America over healthcare reform and that the overall mood of that debate paints taxpayer funded healthcare and other 'entitlements' as burdens on the hardworking Americans and is creating a sense that anyone needing help from the system is a 'user' or a 'taker' and that if the so called American Dream isn't working for you it can only be because you're too lazy to work for it and that the kindest thing we can do for people who can't or won't 'pay their own way' is eliminate all the 'entitlements' in order to force them to 'pull their own weight'.  But if you can't or won't 'pull your own weight' than have the decency to keep your weight off the backs of your fellow American Dreamers as you sink into the mud beneath their gold booted feet.

So.  OK.  The fact that question is on that 'mood-o-meter' questionnaire is testament to the fact that 'feeling like a burden' is a symptom of the illness and thus not necessarily a rational or objective view.

But it isn't necessarily irrational to interpret the mood of the nation that way and thus see yourself through the eyes of the Paul Ryans and Rand Pauls and the Tea Party protesters and the Rush Limbaughs and Ann Coulters and Michelle Malkins... all those voices that are all but chanting for people like me to just lay down and die already.  Just get out of the way so the 'real' Americans can have the freedom to grab their bootstraps and bound up the ladder of success as weightless as frogs in space.

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