I had my disability hearing and am waiting to find out the results. The hearing is the third part of the process – after you get denied, and appeal, and get denied again, and appeal that.
The worst part about the disability hearing is the uncertainty. I got a letter, out of the blue, that told me when and where my hearing would be. This, after so many months in a row of hearing nothing at all from the government. Has it been an entire year, or more than that? I thought they had forgotten about me.
Would the disability judge believe me – or would she assume I’m faking my symptoms? I figure she’s already made her decision on my case and the hearing is just a formality.
In my experience, if someone with power or authority over me has the ability to either help me – or leave me to continue suffering – they choose the latter every time. Why would this be any different? Maybe I shouldn’t bother going.
I go anyway. They are probably going to refuse to help me – so why make it easy on them? I go. I let the judge see how hard it is for me to physically move, to hear in my voice the pain I am feeling. To see me as a person – a fellow human being – instead of some name on a form.
The hardest part about the disability hearing is remembering NOT to hide how sick I am. I hide it by default because most people get uncomfortable when they can tell how bad my allergies are, how much my joints hurt, how exhausted I am all the time.
The disability hearing required me to be completely honest about how bad my chronic illnesses are. It forced me to face how much I’m struggling right now. Being that vulnerable in front of a judge who gets to decide whether or not I fit the criteria of “disabled” is hard. Maybe it was worth it. Maybe not. I have no choice but to wait and see.
The most tragic part of the disability hearing is the realization that I’m NOT faking any of my symptoms. Every condition has been diagnosed by a specialist. I can’t press a button and turn off the sinus pain, the sneezing, the multitude of reactions that happen if I eat something I’m allergic to. I can’t add oil, like the Tin Man, and suddenly make my joints work properly. I can’t take enough caffeine to combat the deep and constant exhaustion I fight every waking moment.
I knew I wasn’t “normal”. But, until the disability hearing, I didn’t consciously realize how bad off I am. There was a moment of crystal clear reality when I tried to push the chair I was sitting in away from the table at the end of the disability hearing – and wasn’t strong enough to move the chair under my own power.
I am disabled.
The weight of the truth in that sentence weighs down my soul.
The most demoralizing part of the disability hearing is knowing that even though the truth sits heavily upon me – it is like a mote of dust to the disability judge. It’s made insignificant by how often she’s seen people who need help. Common.
I am no special snowflake here.
All that is left is to wait for an envelope to arrive that tells me my fate.