Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Truth

In a bold attempt to be completely honest, things suck.

Today Jason and I learned that the truth does not always prevail.  We've had an extremely disappointing, heartbreaking moment today that I really never wanted to believe would ever come.  I'm choosing to lay it all out there because at this point, I'm not quite sure what else there is to lose.  I'm choosing to lay the facts out here, but I'm going to attempt to keep my feelings about it at minimum for legal reasons.

Many of you have followed and read long enough to know the events of our past year.  We are coming up on the one year anniversary of my first heart surgery, the surgery that first made us realize how unlikely it was that Ethan would ever enter the world alive.  That surgery completely turned our worlds upside down. We were fearful of my life, Ethan's life, and our future.  Things went downhill from there health wise for a while.

During this time, I had no choice but to be removed from all forms of work.  I was put on restricted activity, as restricted as you can get without complete bed rest.  I had no choice but to take a leave of absence from my job, a job that I very much loved, with clients that I cared deeply for and still wonder and worry about.  As sad as I was to abruptly leave my clients and their families, my doctors felt that work was aggravating my condition, and the suspected virus that I contracted was likely contracted at our summer program.  While these were complete speculations, they are the only answer we have for the cause of my health condition last winter.

It has taken a while to completely recover from this condition, and we are still not 100% sure that the condition will not be long term.  We will see my cardiologist again this month to determine if the delivery of Ethan allowed the remaining amount of my symptoms to diminish.  However, while I was still requesting to return to work during my leave of absence, I was never allowed to do so.  The inability to get a work release from my doctors resulted in the loss of my job in March, when FMLA would no longer protect me.  This was not a pretty 12 weeks between my employer and myself, as I was doing everything I could think of to keep my job.

We were lucky that I had been paying for a short term disability insurance policy when I got sick.  That policy kept us financially afloat throughout the remainder of my pregnancy.  I'm not quite sure where we would be if we hadn't bought that policy, but we are so glad that it was there for us.

Jason received a promotion shortly after Ethan was born, and we had hoped that it would be enough to alleviate the pressure of job searching.  It wasn't.  His promotion was tremendously helpful, but it wasn't enough.  We've known that I would need to return to work in order to provide for Ethan, as we just aren't quite able to become a one-income family yet.  So upon my medical release to return to work, therefore losing my short term disability insurance, I filed for unemployment benefits to get us through while I looked for something that would be best for all of us.  Of course this isn't exactly something I wanted to do, but it was something we had to do in order to stay afloat until I find something.

My previous employer protested my benefits, claiming that I quit my job and therefore should be denied benefits.  The state sided with my employer, and I filed an appeal.  I researched, wrote letters, and provided as much evidence as I possibly could to present in a hearing to prove that I absolutely did not quit my job.  I needed that job.  That job had a wonderful health insurance plan that saved us thousands of dollars in coinsurance for my surgeries.  Unfortunately, we lost that plan when I was fired in March, leaving quite a burden from the remaining medical visits and then Ethan's delivery.  Knowing what would be stacked against us if I did leave my job, I would have never quit.  I had all the proof in the world to show it.

My hearing was last Tuesday, and I can't begin to explain to you the sickening feeling I've had preparing and waiting for this confrontation with my previous employer.  I've been so angry at the way I have been treated, I feared that my stupid mouth would get me in trouble.  I managed to remain calm, answer the facts, and not say the things that I have wanted to say.  I 100% believe that there is nothing else I could have said or done to better prepare for that 45 minutes.

We received our letter of the results from the hearing today, and the decision was not in our favor.  For whatever reason, although I did everything I could to protect my position, requesting medical leave required by physicians that results in a termination has been viewed as a voluntary separation.  While they determined that my "voluntary separation" was for good cause, they did not feel that it was attributable to my employer because I cannot 100% prove that "work" caused my condition.  Of course I can't prove that.  No one knows.  We can speculate.  We can assume.  Although it is obvious that work was aggravating the condition, that is apparently not what matters.

Because a heart condition is not at the fault of my employer, I don't deserve unemployment while looking for a new position in this horrible economy, according to my previous employers.  I didn't ask to get sick.  I didn't ask to be fired.  I didn't ask to have to worry every moment if Ethan and I were going to survive.  I didn't do anything wrong.  Therefore, we are forced to become a one-income family that just doesn't cover it for who knows how long.  I feel pretty crushed, to say the least.  I feel embarrassed to even have to admit what's going on.  I feel that I did nothing wrong, yet I ended up in a situation where someone didn't believe the truth.  They didn't believe me.  I feel frustrated that I don't know what is going to fall into our laps or when it is going to fall into our laps.

I know, and I have faith, that things will ultimately be ok, but that doesn't make them ok tonight.  I know this entire situation is happening for a reason that I may never understand, and that one day it will be such a small piece of our past.  That doesn't make it any easier right now.  I would love to say that I intend to wake up tomorrow with a smile on my face and ready to put this behind me, but that probably isn't going to happen either.  I was really hoping for December 10th to roll around and be able to reflect at how far we had come from such a nightmare tale, but it seems that we will still be wondering where the heck we are going.


Jess said...

Paige, I will pray and pray hard for you in this time. My family has gone through (and is still goin through) a similar situation. It's frustrating. It's unfair. It's hurtful.

I'm so sorry you're going through this and I will continue to lift you up in my prayers. I wish we lived closer so I could drive over and hug you.

Madeline said...

I'm so sorry you are having to go through this. Hopefully, it will all work out quickly and soon

I'll be keeping you in my prayers

Erika and Jason said...

This just makes me sick to my stomach. I can't believe that this all played out this way. S and I will send you a big virtual hug.

Jax said...

I am SO sorry. I have been praying for you and awaiting the resolution of this. That is absolutely maddening! I am seriously SO furious right now for you! You don't deserve any of this and I am so sorry. Your little family is strong.. even little Ethan. I'm sorry you have to go through this, but I KNOW you will come out on the other side of it all. Sending love and hugs...

Anonymous said...

Oh, Paige. You have NO IDEA how much I can relate to this! I will try to send you a private message soon. But really...I get it. I DO.

Why in the WORLD would your employer deny your benefits? It's my understanding that they pay into an "unemployment pot" whether anyone uses it or not! They don't gain ANYTHING by denying you. What assholes. I'm sorry, but seriously. You're a young family with a new baby, and a host of medical bills, and they're purposely trying to make things harder for you. I'm so angry for you right now, I could scream.


That actually felt good to type :)

Jorden and Kristin said...

I'm so sorry you're getting screwed over like this. :( Wish Employers were a little more considerate about stuff like this...
big hugs.

Mommy on the Spot said...

This is my first time at your blog. I'm sorry that this has happened. Ever since I became a mother, it has become clear that our society and general laws of family leave do not support mothers. It's so sad. I'm so sorry.

Brittany Ann said...

I am praying for you and mad for you all in one. THIS IS NOT FAIR! I just read this and started yelling aloud about the story to my husband. Because you don't deserve this, and I just wish there was more I could do to help you!

Pregnancy and health in this country, and how intertwined it is in our work/policy system, sucks. Period.

Valerie said...

Paige, I'm just now reading what has been happening to you! WOW! I'm so sorry. Please know that we will be praying for you to find a great Mommy style job! I'm sure the perfect job is being created for you right now! Hang in there!!