Well, today is the big day. I can't say that I'm prepared because I have been provided with no expectations of what will transpire. I can honestly say that I am ready to attend the hearing, put the stress behind me, and move forward with my life.
I always feel better when I feel prepared. Lacking any guidelines for what might happen, I have taken it upon myself to write my own statement. I'm not sure if I will be provided with an opportunity to share my perspective, but I will be prepared if allowed to speak. Here is my speech:
Every morning I wake up and put on my prosthetic leg. I live my life with a physical reminder of somebody else's negligence. The accident that occurred on March 11, 1998, was not my fault. I was simply the victim of circumstance by standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yet I am forced to live with the consequences of that mistake every single day knowing that the careless coworker probably doesn't even remember my name.
Although my life was changed by the accident and the subsequent amputation of my left foot and ankle, I have always aspired to live a fully engaged life. I'm not disabled by my limb loss. I am disabled by the bureaucratic red tape of this insurance carrier.
Since my amputation in 2003, I have habitually been denied standard prosthetic care. I find myself forced to fight for basic supplies needed to utilize my prosthetic. Liners, which Medicare issues every six weeks, are historically denied by this carrier. I am forced to compromise my prosthetic fit and the health of my limb while they wage a battle of paper and denials.
I have been offered wheelchairs in lieu of a prosthetic because the carrier could save money. Your Honor, I would be severely impaired if I lived my life in a wheelchair. My ability to access my home, which has two flights of stairs, would be limited if I were in a wheelchair. I am physically capable of walking with a prosthetic. I don't believe that walking is a privilege for the selected few. It is the right of every amputee who has the ability and the desire. I deserve the tools necessary to walk, regardless of the financial costs incurred! I am outraged by the implication that I should settle for anything less than standard prosthetic care.
I have work and family responsibilities, yet all of these must be put on hold every time this insurance carrier denies a claim. I have had days when I couldn't work- not because of pain but because prosthetic supplies were denied by the carrier. My life, and my ability to fully engage and reach my potential, has been hijacked by an insurance carrier who values the bottom line over its responsibilities to the patient.
I did not ask to be injured, nor did I do anything to cause the accident which ultimately claimed my foot. Over the years I have made peace with the fact that a mistake caused such a drastic impact on my life. The true irony of this situation lies with the knowledge that the accident on March 11. 1998, was the only true "mistake" made. Every denial and every obstacle that has been placed in my path since that date has been deliberately perpetrated.
I will never accept being handicapped by an insurance carrier attempting to shirk its responsibilities. I deserve the necessary devices for me to walk without swimming through a sea of denials and red tape. My amputation is not going to go away, and either will I. I will continue to fight for my care.
Now, if I can only get through this speech without my voice quaking...