Have you ever been caught in a really bad storm and wondered if you’ll ever make it home again? One rainy evening many years ago, a friend and I were driving on desolate country roads after visiting another friend at her parents’ farmhouse. A couple miles from our starting point, the skies suddenly grew darker. In the rearview mirror, I saw a shape forming that very closely resembled a funnel cloud. Quickly, I slammed on the brakes and cried, “Get out! Run down to the bottom of the ditch and cover your head!” So we did. At first, it was very quiet and still. I thought about my parents’ little Colt and wondered if it could actually crush Kristin and I if a tornado did touch down above us.
As the wind quickly picked up, it violently blew rocks, grass, dirt, and branches across the landscape. Trembling down below in our shelter that became muddier by the minute, we both grappled with the issue of whether or not it was safe to look up. Would we be struck by flying debris, possibly my car? What were the chances that we would actually get sucked up in a real-life tornado? How would we know when it was safe to come out? All these things went through my mind, and I didn’t know if it would ever feel safe to leave. You know that feeling of deep-seated fear, when your stomach is churning, and you honestly don’t know how you’ll get through it. If you’ll get through it?
This is exactly how I’ve felt for a long time now, throughout the 2 1/2 year fight I’ve been forced to engage in with the Social Security Administration for my disability claim. When my hearing in December was a bust from the moment I sat down, I felt just like that teenage girl who was rolled up in a ball, completely exposed to whatever harm might come her way. Rather than waste 70 minutes of my time, the federal judge might as well have stamped “DENIED” on my claim and sent me on my way. That’s essentially what he did. He had his mind made up before I even entered the room. Unfortunately, I had to wait 2 long months before I got his letter confirming what I suspected all along. When I was denied by SSD the second time, they said it was because I could still use my hands and arms. Seriously? So what did my hearing judge use to “justify” his denial? Stay tuned for Part 2 of “Stormy Weather.”