April 2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mad. Very, Very Angry

I am caught in a snare between a disability insurance company that bullies me (aren’t they supposed to help me?) and the Medical Records Department with my health insurance (I think they’re supposed to help me, too.)

Their combined incompetence has cost me three half-days to travel to the hospital to fill out paperwork for them to lose, four different explanations about what might have happened, one honest “I have no idea what happened” and one “I don’t know if I can help but I’ll do my best”, nineteen phone calls, two nasty letter from the disability insurance case manager, and countless hours of lost sleep.

It may cost me the only hope I have of any income for the next five years, as I prepare for a new career since I can’t do my previous career anymore.

I keep singing the classic from Little Jerry and the Monotones on Sesame Street, “Very, Very Angry”:

(background singers): We're mad. Very angry, very, very angry.
Real mad. Very angry, very, very angry.

When someone socks me in the eye
And they don't even tell me why, that makes me mad.

(Very angry, very, very angry)

When I'm walkin' down the street
And someone stomps upon my feet, that makes me mad.

(Ya, we're angry, very, very angry)

When I’m tired or angry, my body lets me know it. Balance is more difficult. The intermittent Parkinsonian tremor in my left hand makes my hand feel that it’s floppng like a fish out of water. My heart beat races. My upper right lip jumps around like it’s been electrified.

Last night after another ridiculous phone call and contacting a lawyer and a disability advocate, I could not relax enough to fall asleep. The Parkinsonian tremor worsened as I imagined what I might say to these people when I can give them a piece of my mind. (Just an expression. My brain’s been fiddled with enough.)

I start thinking of all of the other things that made me angry yesterday…or ever.

When I thought my hand might never relax, I thought about the precept of Santosha, the focus on my yoga class on Monday morning (yea! My first yoga class since surgery five years ago!) Santosha, usually translated as “Contentment” is not a synonym for “happiness” but in my mind it’s more accurately a quality of stillness, even in a difficult time.

Molly, the teacher, pointed out that  Santosha is not a state of being, like happiness. “Santosha,” she said is a practice.”

As I lay in bed with my spasming hand, I wondered what practicing Santosha might require. I gave myself an assignment much like I used to give assignments to my students.

List everything that I am grateful for. 

The list is long, and I imagine an image for each item: my partner Ann, my family of birth, my church, my life, sunshine, the hummingbird that strifed us as we ate our dinner on the deck, our dinner on the deck, my trike, avalanche lilies on Mt. Rainier, John Keats’ Odes, my brain tumor support group, and so on.

As I imagined so much that I am grateful for, my hand stilled.

When my angry words crept in, and they did, my hand flopped again, but the moment I returned to gratitude, my hand relaxed.


I slipped into sleep remembering the words of my colleague Jenn’s Lithuanian grandfather: “It’ll all be okay in the end. And if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

“It’s not the end,” I slurred in my sleepiest voice to myself.

And then I slept.


  1. Mary, you are such a good egg. I'm sorry it is so hard right now, and I am glad that you're finding ways to stay positive.

  2. Sorry it is so hard. Your insights are good reminders. You didn't ask for anyone to solve the issue, but as one who has worked for insurance companies I know what a message from the insurance commissioner does - things move quickly. You might keep that in your back pocket.

  3. I know you have probably heard it already, but you need a lawyer for the disability stuff. I asked my doctor for a recommendation, and that helped. Although for the long term disability, it took the lawyer really going over it to tell me what I needed to know. That the policy stated that I also needed to apply for Social Security Disability, and the disability insurance company would only supplement that up to the percentage of my regular income as was stated in the policy. For me, that meant that there was not a significant difference between getting the disability payment from the disability insurance company, and only going with Social Security.

    What people also told me, and I ignored, is that you need to start out doing the SS disability with a lawyer. *eye roll* I never listen! I have to do things my way! Well, my way got me rejected the first time. So then I got a lawyer, and filled out the paperwork exactly the same as before, had the lawyer file it, and BOOM! Approved. I can give you the name of my lawyer, but most Soc Sec lawyers are the same. They have a rate fixed by the government as to what they can charge. I would strongly urge you to get a lawyer.

  4. I am so sorry this is happening. I hope that the disability lawyer can punch these people in their collective nose and get them to do their JOBS. I'm angry with you.

    1. and what i meant was "I am angry along with you!"

  5. Mary I have been struggling with the practice of santosha recently.....and stumbled upon your writing only to find that we spent time in the same part of the world. Something about knowing that you know Wichita falls helps me allow myself to try again to redirect myself and step back into this practice if contentment. A deep thank you for helping me on my journey. Tory

  6. I'm mad, too. Insurance company agents may not individually be bad people, but they do the devil's work (deny, deny, deny). I wish I could help, but you need a GOOD lawyer.
    Wichita Falls, Texas, is indeed a strange place. A magical, strange place. In fact, one of the things I am grateful for is that you took me there to visit.
    Now I feel less mad, too. But I still think you need a GOOD lawyer.


Please comment: I'd love to hear your thoughts!