Temporarily Disabled Father Of Five Needs Help While Awaiting SSI And SSDI
by Shane Pruss
(Deer Trail, CO, USA)
Me and my kids
I am 38 years old and currently in a common-law marriage relationship with Stephanie Henderson.
I have five children, a boy and a girl (15 and 13) from a previous marriage, and three boys (8, 5 and 3) with Stephanie.
In the summer of 2011, I started getting a tingling in my toes, legs and right arm. In the fall of 2011, it became harder to write and walk (I was walking with a bad limp).
Just sitting down for long periods of time was uncomfortable. I have not slept in our bed for two years or better now. It is so uncomfortable.
By Thanksgiving, I had lost the feeling in my toes. Then my right leg went numb and it kept creeping up. I kept plugging away as Christmas was right around the corner.
I had been to the doctor a couple of times complaining about pain and I did get naproxen for the pain as she thought I had pulled a muscle or something.
I brought the new year in with a bad limp, more numbness, twitching, writing even worse and some blurred vision.
On Valentines Day, I sneezed and lost the feeling of my right arm then a little later that night I sneezed again and lost the feeling in my left arm as well.
I went to the emergency room the next morning and they scanned me from brain to tailbone looking for what was wrong.
They saw that I had three discs that were compressing my spinal cord, rheumatoid arthritis in some other parts of my spine and an unknown white spot about an inch and a half long.
They tested me for multiple sclerosis as well and the test came back negative, but it is still not ruled out.
They concluded that the three discs I had in my neck at the top of my spine were pinching the spinal cord and it was cutting off the supply of spinal fluid to the rest of my spine.
If I had sneezed a bit harder, it would have severed it completely. I had surgery. They took out the three discs, inserted cadaver bones and fused them together.
I had another MRI and it showed the bottom two screws compressing the way my discs were doing, so they went in again and removed them and put in shorter screws.
I have to go back in a month and a half for another MRI to see if the white spot was a bruise, a tumor, MS or something else.
I am recovering right now. I do not have an official disability status. The case manager at the hospital told us that I would have to be disabled for one year or longer to be able to qualify for SSI and SSDI.
I do know I am not supposed to work for 6-8 weeks after surgery. I do know the surgery did get the tingling back. My right leg is still not the same.
I still have a limp and my right leg and arm twitch uncontrollably still. My writing is still strained and not any better. I do not think these will be any better in the future.
Since the surgery, my shoulder has been hurting. The pain they say is nerve damage. I have to see a different doctor for this to address the spreading of that pain.
I am currently filling out the application for SSI and SSDI.
The past four years or so I have been working for Karen Beavers. I have done some kind of construction work since the age of 14. I am a journeyman drywaller. I was a framer for three years.
I can do electrical and plumbing work and complete remodels. I have been installing windows, siding and roofing for the last eight years while also working for Karen.
This has set me back physically. I cannot lift more than 10 lbs or grip things with any force since the strength in my hands is gone.
Not working has stressed our household, as my wife was not working before to take care of the children. Now she has to be here to be my caregiver since the surgery.
We are behind on rent, as I have been not working much since November due to my inability to keep my balance.
Our water bill is past due and the electricity bill will be past due when the new bill cuts.
The bills are stacking up and we have not yet got the ones from the hospital that the Medicaid won't cover.
We have applied for TANIF and have an appointment in two days to meet with the Goodwill people.
We have a note from the doctor saying I cannot work, and that Stephanie is my caregiver. They want her to work or volunteer for 33 hours a week.
We have set up a site and told our story on giveforward.com to accept donations. In 10 days, we raised $10. Visit the site here:
Karen Beavers has set up an account at the Valley Bank And Trust. She also put an ad in the local paper (we live in a rural area) that has raised $1300.
I have tried a few charities but nothing has come out of it. We found this site while looking for grants that we may be eligible for.
We are looking for grants or benefits while we finish filling out and waiting for the SSI and SSDI that will pay for our back rent, past due water and electricity and get our gas turned on.