I am a fifty-eight-year-old man who until four years ago, was the picture of health. On a Father's Day morning, I decided to paint the trim of my house. I fell from the ladder, breaking my ankle and spraining my neck. Many would have been happier if I had reversed the order. After surgery I was rehabilitated and forced to retire from my position. I owned a small food brokerage business in central New York. The standing, driving, and lifting were beyond my new limitations, and I was taking painkillers.
Shortly after the rehabilitation I started having predictable problems, including arthritis and a few bad reactions to some medications. I noticed a swelling in my hands and visited the first of many doctors. First they said it was Lyme, then rheumatoid arthritis, then almost a year later, scleroderma. That, strangely, was just the start of my problems.
I have a disability policy that was to take care of me for life if I was forced to retire due to an accident. This policy has been in effect for the last three years.
This week two representatives of the company visited me with some real disturbing news. To their thinking now that I have scleroderma, a disease, they should be off the hook because my policy is for an accident.
I called my regular doctor who supports my claim that my ankle is never going to repair itself, with or without scleroderma. However, I will have to put up with a full hearing before the insurance company's people in order to keep my benefits. I know this is just a ploy to get me to settle and go away. I have already been found fully disabled by Social Security for my ankle alone, but this is not enough for the good folks at the insurance company. I now have to hire a lawyer at my own expense to keep the benefits.
I am sure this is just the start, they will never let me alone. I think the only thing every doctor I have visited has told me is to avoid stress. As most of us know, stress causes flare-ups and things always hurt just a little more.
The lesson I learned is: never, never believe an insurance company.
(Jim, we need your
new email address.)
Story posted 8-27-02
ISN Senior Artist: Sherrill Knaggs
Story Editor: Kishori Mundargi
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