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January 16, 2019 / TeknoKai

I Died Today, and the World Didn’t Even Notice…

I died today, on the 15th day of January 2019, and the world didn’t even notice.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, because after all, the only one affected by this change was me. Nobody stopped by before the event to say any well wishes. No one noticed when I took my last breath. No one even glanced in my direction as my soul, the only true part of me, separated from my mortal body in an instant of not calamity, but hushed silence, and moved out of the physical space which it had occupied for the last almost half century.

There were no klaxons, no bells, no sounds of any sort to mark my complete and utter separation from what I had, until this point, thought of as “me”. It was just a silent transition from being in one state to another. I didn’t feel anything, except maybe that was the whole point.

You see, for the last ten years or so I have lived, daily, with a constant pain that has become so familiar I would swear we were one and the same, from the very beginning of my existence. Every moment of every day, I’ve had a constant nagging at the center of my back, reminding me of the chronic compression fracture in my lumbar vertebrae, and the degenerative disc disease that was steadily eating away at my spine, with the never-stopping flow of a glacier, every melting away from its true form into a slosh of congealed agony, one minuscule amount at a time. For the first couple of years, I tried to work through the pain. I even got palliative help in managing my one constant companion. But over the course of time, my life had de-structured itself to the point that “constant agony” was too light a way of describing my inner turmoil.

During this time, I began to lose everything that I had ever had of value to me. First I lost my job, because I couldn’t physically hold up to the strictures that a daily routine demanded from my no longer conforming body. Once that was done, I quickly lost my home, and my car, in rapid succession. You see, with no money coming in, I couldn’t afford to hold on to the basic necessities that I had taken for granted in my meager little existence of a life. I resorted (God help me!) to moving in with my Mom and stepdad just to have a place to sleep and food to eat. In procuring said sustenance, I sold off every item of value that I had ever possessed, in slow, lingering departures, just to be able to see myself into the next day. All the while, my pain was becoming worse, and, since I no longer had a job, I no longer had insurance. Therefore, I could no longer see a medical professional for the proper care that I needed.

As my physical state worsened, so too did my mental state. Depression can creep up on you, jump you, and have you completely smothered it’s ever darkening manifestation before you can even realize what is happening. You reach what, as your former friends and family who have witnessed your decline and chosen to “step back” and not get involved in any way whatsoever, casually refer to as “rock bottom”. You know when you’ve arrived when the only possessions you have left to your name fill one medium sized laundry box.

For a moment, you think, “You know – nothing can be worse than this. I’ve fallen as far as I possibly can. Things have to change for the better, because they certainly can’t get any worse.” Then you discover that “rock bottom” has a basement.

You try to tell everyone you can still reach, in whatever is left of your tattered life circles, what you are going through, but the pure shame of it makes it hard to profess. So you suffer in silence, until you get to the point where you really decide that you can’t go any further. So you down a whole bottle of the most exquisite pain relieving medication you can get your hands on, chased with a stiff and powerful drink or two, and you try to let yourself go from the now constant and eternal hell that has become for you an “everyday existence”. For a brief moment you feel regret, then you feel total nothingness. Then, by the Grace of God, some 14 hours later you wake up. You have the mother of all hangovers, but that’s OK – you actually feel better because this pain is at the forefront now, and your regular constant agonies are pushed slightly into the background.

You do a helluva lot of soul searching, rather quickly, and decide that you are actually one lucky bastard – you got a second chance. By now, your family can no longer turn a blind eye to your predicament, and in an overstepping of boundaries, your closest of kin has you committed, open ended, to the closest state run mental asylum, “for your own good”. You learn another seven levels of Hell here, and after about four months of the worst purgatory you will ever see, either this side of life or the other, and you managed to get a family member – an aunt, no less, to agree to let you have a place to lay your head. You leave the hospital laden with the wonderful psychiatric candy you were so recently addicted to at the expense of the state, and return to a somewhat normal (though it will never really be that way again) lifestyle. You use your state given medications until they run out. They you take the prescriptions to your nearest chain pharmacy of choice, only to find out that these meds are so cutting edge there is no generic for them, and they are going to run you about $2,000 a bottle. For a month’s supply. Of three different drugs.

You return to you borrowed bed, and suffer the next level of exquisite agony – the withdrawal symphony.

After a couple of solid weeks, in which you manage to get back to your own version of “never-be-normal”, you start reaching out to places where you can try to get medical assistance. You find a wonderful, actual “FREE” clinic, run by a cooperative of the local church and volunteer hospital and pharmacy staff, which only convenes the first Sunday of every month, and you can only go once every three months. But this is a Godsend, because you not only see a physician, but you are given a 90 day supply of medicine (if it is medicine the charity pharmacy has in stock) so you can kind of get your body back on the track that it needs to be on. Kind of, but not quite exactly.

During this time – you have filed for Disability benefits from all the years that you have worked. And you are promptly denied. You appeal. This process takes about 15 months. You go in front of a judge with the help of a lawyer who expressly advertises on local TV, daily, that he prides himself in getting people who really need help the help that that deserve. You never meet said lawyer in the flesh until about 30 minutes before the set time of said appeal hearing. This man knows nothing about you – at all – and flounders at every question asked by the administrative law judge. You walk out of an extensively exhausted hearing – just knowing that you’re finally going to get the help you desperately need. Four moths later, you get the written decision by said administrative law judge – you are denied again. You have the option to appeal, this time to a federal court, about your case. Your lawyer tells you “Good Luck. I don’t do federal cases. You are free from any bill by me, but I can’t help you anymore.” Devastated, you desperately search for a lawyer who will file the appeal – and you find one, just in the nick of time.

You have your first meeting with the new lawyer’s staff, and you turn over all information possible about your case. They file the federal appeal, but, in the meantime, they file a “fresh” disability claim on you starting with that the very date you walked into their offices. This is just a backup, “in case”. In case of what, you are never fully explained.

Seven more months roll by, and the day of your hearing, your new lawyer contacts you and tells you that he had to dismiss your appeal, due to lack of evidence to support your claim that you were wrongfully dismissed from before. However – you are told that the “fresh claim” is still in effect, and that you will just be depending on it now. Screw the old claim with about 4 years of back pay – that’s just gone. It’s like you’re filing again for the first time, ever!

During this time, you get denied again. But that was to be expected. You are told that you you would have to go back through the appeal process again, so that an administrative law judge could make the decision on whether you basically get to live or die. Their choice. You are told to make every appointment with the free clinic you can, to make a couple of Emergency Room Visits (creating bills that you know you cannot afford) and even seeing the doctor who works the free clinic a couple of times at his regular, “pay to see” office, thereby creating even more medical bills. But you do this because your new lawyer says he cannot help you unless you are seen by a medical doctor on a routinely scheduled basis. So you do as you are told. And finally the day comes for your second time in court.

This time, you, and your new lawyer are much better prepared for the proceedings. You have your shi@t together, and every “i” is dotted and “t” is crossed. You have your hearing, and this judge is much more personable than your previous one. You have 3 (not 1, nor 2, but 3) letters from your doctor at 3 different times throughout the past year and a half – blatantly stating that your beloved doctor does not believe you are capable of maintaining gainful employment, due to your physical condition. During the hearing, your lawyer and the judge decide that the only piece of paperwork that they need to solidify your claim, is a standard 5 page document whereupon your doctor actually states the physical limitations you have. This, unbeknownst to you, is the moment that everything you have built your hopes upon for the past 8 years, total, but 2 years specifically, has once again been thrown into the deepest realms of abyssal Hell.

For some unfathomable reason, the doctor that you have been placing your trust in for the past two years, regularly – the one who has thrice penned missives stating that he believes you are unable to pursue gainful employment, tells you that he is not happy putting his name down on a piece of paper that actually states your physical limitations, because he doesn’t have a full ten years worth of time to say definitively what your limitations are (although you have discussed said limitations in detail), thereby committing himself to measurement of said limitations for all of time, because he is an “ethical” man (now, this has not come from his mouth at all, but from a volley of secretaries and nurses intervening betwixt your and his open communication channels). You are absolutely flabbergasted. Dumbfounded to the point that you cannot muster words to speak from your mouth. You have basically been told that although you have invested such a significant amount of time with this individual in the process of getting to where you are now, they don’t feel “comfortable” laying formal claim to a statement that they have “informally” put on paper three different times during the time that you have been seeing this doctor as his patient. You think the universe is actually having a right old laugh at your expense. But after multiple phone calls and being told the same thing over and over, you have no choice but to sit back and have yourself a truly “WTF?!?” moment.

So your new lawyer tells you that this is gonna be OK – it actually happens “all the time”. What will happen is he will inform the judge of your doctor’s unwillingness to commit the atrocity of actually standing behind what they have said multiple times before, and the judge will simply have you go to a “fresh” new doctor who knows nothing of your situation, but will examine you at the judge’s behest because the court will pay for the examination. Now, this wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact that it means you are going to have to wait – first for a letter scheduling you an appointment with a random doctor you have never laid eyes on before, the going to said appointment, then waiting for the results to be sent back to the judge, who will then make his decision based upon this information (because he will *surely* remember your specific case amongst all the others he will be dealing with on a daily basis) and will then give you aa written decision based on his findings. The only problem is, instead of maybe a couple of weeks which would surely pass by quickly had your actual doctor had the balls to man up and own his own statements – you may possibly be looking at getting a decision by, oh I don’t know – it’s just now January – so let’s say maybe next Christmas?

During which time I have no longer been able to procure food for myself, the winter is adding a whole ‘nother layer of hardships with even trying to continue to, not live, but merely exist, until such time as the world deems it proper for your “never-going-away” problems to be dealt with on its terms; I have no money and no hope of gaining any type of plausible income whatsoever. I have nothing worth value to sell, pawn, or barter for anything I need. I have no means of transport (but I also have no where to go), and all I can do is curl up under a mountain of covers, brace myself against the freezing arctic winds, and try to push my personal Hell of constant pain into the background long enough to concentrate on trying to take my next breath…

Which is where I ended up today. I can’t tell you the exact moment of my passing, I was too caught up in trying to preserve my meager lonesome existence from the particular flavor of pain du jour to actually look at a clock, but rest assured – I felt the instant *snap* of separation – wherein everything I ever was or would be, simply faded into a dull thrum of quiet chaotic pulsing, and for the first time ever – I didn’t realize that any part of me hurt. Whatever humanity I possessed is long gone. I am nothing but a frozen ethereal breeze slowly wafting away from this reality I called home. I don’t know where I’m going, but I don’t really care anymore. And I’ve come to terms that despite my having an impressive 5,000 followers on the great multiverse of Twitter, another couple hundred Facebook “friends” and who knows how many Instagram viewers – not a single soul has noticed my passing. Oh, well, at least I don’t have to worry about leaving any mourners behind. Maybe the world will be a little bit lighter not having to carry my dead weight upon its shoulders for another cosmic heartbeat. Who knows? I certainly don’t. And from this beatifically frozen emptiness wherein I now find myself, with no cares, no worries, no hopes, nor dreams – just a never-ending landscape of eternal ice and silence, I can’t honestly say whether or not I ever mattered – or that my presence in that world of yesteryear ever had an impact on anybody, really. Because when all was said and done, and my time came to pass – there wasn’t anybody here to witness except myself. And I don’t think that counted anyway.

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