When Endometriosis Keeps You From Working
Working became very difficult when my endometriosis got severe. My symptoms had increased tremendously and my heavy bleeding left me crippled. I was needing more bathroom breaks and sitting down became a necessity. Waking up in the morning was my worst enemy. How would I possibly make it through another day? Due to my painful periods, holding a job was always difficult. But this was a whole other battle and I could feel myself losing.
I was determined to fight through the pain. I’d strap heat packs under my shirts and stay ahead of the pain with medicine. Sometimes, I would be so sick even my boss would send me home. In time, I was calling out multiple times a week due because of it. Soon I began needing surgery every 6 months because my endometriosis was growing at a rapid rate. Somewhere in my mind, I knew this wasn’t forever, but that didn’t make it easier. Endometriosis can slowly strip away so many things from your life and this one really hit me hard. The first step in acceptance was figuring out what I had to do to make it through this time. I had to remind myself that I was not losing who I was, just what I could do.
Applying for disability benefits
The realization became clear that I needed to apply for Social Security Disability. In doing so, I had the opportunity to hopefully relieve stress and also gain some independence back. The steps are pretty simple as far as your first time applying. You are able to do it online with just basic work history and medical history information. I got a lawyer, which, at first, seemed scary because I didn’t have any money to spare. Fortunately, disability lawyers don’t charge you unless you win your case.
The first year was rough. When I applied, I didn’t understand the timeline for the process. Months and months went by until I even received information. Sadly, it was my denial letter. Over the course of three years, I got denied three times. If you are denied that many times, you make it to the hearing stage. After only communicating through letters, medical files, and emails with a lawyer, you’re all of a sudden preparing to be in front of a judge. It’s nerve wracking, to say the least, but just like with any health issue, you just have to tackle it head on.
The trial and outcome
I couldn’t sleep all week knowing my hearing was just around the corner. I hadn’t even met my lawyer yet, so I felt a bit nervous. The hearing was so dependent on her and I was afraid she wasn't good enough. My lawyer and I met in the morning and I was instantly relieved by how efficient she seemed to be. We quickly went over all my evidence, as well as some tips she had. She explained how the judge would first ask me questions and then she would ask a few towards the end. After quickly preparing with her, we walked into the hearing. It was a small room with only the judge and one other person. In less than 30 minutes it was over and the judge dismissed us. I leaned down to grab my jacket, turned to my lawyer, and saw her whisper, “You won!”.
Looking back, I was extremely lucky. Unfortunately, I know a lot of disabled people who get denied in the hearing stage. If you do, your lawyer can take the next steps with you to keep fighting the case. The whole process is completely draining without a guarantee of a positive outcome. My biggest advice is to have a lawyer and make sure they have a background in disability cases. Having a great team of doctors that can write letters to your judge and fill out your paperwork is super important. You want to make sure they’re explaining things correctly when it comes to your disabilities. Lastly, don’t give up. Keep fighting for yourself and surround yourself by those who will fight alongside with you.
Have you applied for disability? Feel free to share your experiences below!
The holiday season is among us and can be so stressful! Do you experience more flares during this season?