• Laura Hewett

No More Good Cripple

This is an angry post.


Anger is a secondary emotion, and there're layers of other things covered up right now, but let me give some significant context: I love my life. I'm incredibly blessed, and I have people who love me and send me Trader Joe's and I get to live in a beautiful community with people who feed me often and occasionally say nice things to me. Seriously, so many good things. But let me also be very clear: disability sucks. I deal with all kinds of thoughtless comments and physical inconveniences.


And then there's insurance.


American insurance sucks. There's just no avoiding that. I pay over 80% of my physio costs out of pocket because American insurance won't cover ongoing improvements in my physical health. I pay 100% of preventative care because American insurance doesn't care about me until I actually do get infections or complications from my disability. I fought for six months to get a guarantee of payment for my new wheelchair which arrived early April. Once the bill arrived two weeks ago, I submitted it to my insurance to be paid directly.


They denied the claim.


Because the person entering the data carelessly made no less than five errors in filling out the form.


I kid you not. This is a $6,000 bill - roughly with the currency exchange. But two of the errors were typing the Swiss Francs in as USD and not even typing in the correct decimal number. This sheer laziness is annoying on it's own, but let's not forget the implications of the fact that my name is on this bill, and I'm liable to be sent to collections if the insurance delays payment too long. I've resubmitted the information - I remind you with a guarantee of payment given by Cigna - and I'm praying it gets processed correctly this time by someone who knows the difference between a "wheelchair" and a "doctor's appointment" and will properly file it as "durable medical equipment" instead of denying an absurdly priced "physician's visit."


Listen, I don't know what kind of day that insurance employee was having when they processed my claim, but their job done poorly has produced an immeasurable amount of stress and anxiety for me with an as yet unknown end date. Just yesterday I was talking with a friend about how she believed those who've been hurt by others need to step up and advocate for themselves directly to the person who hurt them in order for the other to learn from their mistakes and stop hurting people in the future. I have no one I can shake this denied claim in the face of. I also have other people in my life who have hurt me but whom I'm not safe confronting for a variety of reasons. Life is complicated and messy.


There is plenty I can learn in my own responses, and I can work to make less mistakes in my own job. I can also use my limited platform to scream as loudly as possible, "Do your own jobs responsibly! Yes, YOU, readers right now! Think about your words; be intentional with your actions!" To be clear, I don't know your roles, but I know that we all can take a minute to think about how there is a ripple effect to our words and actions. You can even share this post and have conversations with people about, wow, some sloppy desk job work really can have a negative effect, and maybe I should be more responsible with the timeliness of my emails. Whatever it is, take a second to be angry with me at the harm someone else's thoughtlessness did and then take a second to be more thoughtful yourself.


I'm often easily slotted into the category of "good cripple" because I have a very positive attitude about my disability. Overall, it's not that bad. I really do have more joy in my life than grumbling. However, like I quoted in the post last week, I have some celery that has a place in this recipe of reconciliation. My anger matters; instead of being too quick to sweep away the frustrations and difficulties of disability, I want you to look at them with me. None of this would have happened if someone was more careful in their desk job. But we can back it up to some other places where people were thoughtless and hurtful.


Remember last week when I wrote about someone telling me that God was punishing me with a disability? Did anyone catch the allusions to my own rudeness in calling that out? Here's what happened: they straight up denied saying anything wrong, and I, outraged at this second affront, straight up told them, "I'm not suffering because of the wheelchair." My words are easily misunderstood, and I didn't clear them up. The truth is, there's a lot - a lot - of suffering that is directly connected to this chair. Most of it is because other people are thoughtless in relationship to understanding me either with or aside from the chair. The suffering comes not from the freedom a wheelchair gives me to move about independently (which is what I intended with my brusque statement) but rather the barriers to interacting with the same ease others have in the world around me. The suffering comes from the thousands of euros I've spent each year to have the quality of life that's still below an able bodied person. The suffering comes from people associating me so closely with the chair they only see my disability rather than the identity Christ has given me.


To be honest, it's hard for me not to counter all those statements with positive things about my life, but this post is about getting the word out about my lived reality. This isn't a pity post. I don't want you to feel badly for me because my life is so hard; I want you to know my lived reality is different than yours, and I want to encourage you to live responsibly. What is for you today? You see, for me, there's a responsibility to communicate significant struggles related to other people's thoughtlessness that has negative ramifications directly in my life. I can list half a dozen examples that don't have anything to do with my disability. This insurance claim is just the medium most effective for today's message. Are you listening? Are you going to think about your words and actions today?


Hey, if you're so motivated and free, you're welcome to scroll up and click the "donate" tab and offer something financially for me to avoid extra financial complications if American insurance's mess up lands me in Swiss collections. You're even welcome to join my monthly financial support team if you value my voice as someone working intentionally to love Jesus better and provide quality international education to third culture kids. Or maybe you've been reading about my journey with prayer this last year, and your work for today is to pray for me. To message me an encouragement, or even to tell me to my face to stand up and walk in the name of Jesus (please, only do that one if you are clear the Holy Spirit has directed it). Seriously though, what is for you today? I'm angry, and my role today is to rile you up to the same level of indignation so that you do your work well moving forwards. Is your work to process insurance claims? Read them carefully and file them as unto the Lord. Is your work to lifeguard at a mostly empty pool? Keep your eyes open and watch the children splash safely as unto the Lord. Is your job to be a full time mom? Splurge on the dino chicken nuggets, and squeeze ketchup onto the plate as unto the Lord. Is your role to be a mentor to someone? Listen well to the hurts shared with you, and speak what little is necessary as unto the Lord.


Open your eyes to what is for you today. Is the Holy Spirit prompting you to something wild and beyond your imagination? Step into the chacos of peace and obey.

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