It's time to Get Mad....
Unless you are really, super mad. I'm talking rage-infused-throttling-mind-blowing-full-of-hate mad. And over the holidays, literally a day before I had to pack up my world and move to a new city (incidentally, big cities are pretty sweet), I got mad.
You see, I've been battling with the Alberta Government for some time to get AISH support. AISH either stands for Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped or As If, Shit, Hahahaha! I'm beginning to lean slightly towards the latter simply from this experience. I can't work full time. That's a given because of the pain. I also can't really afford my medication, which is also a given. Essentially, I am poor, in pain, and caught in the biggest Catch-22 someone in this situation can imagine. I was rejected from AISH because my condition was not considered severe nor permanent (Apparently the concept of a 'fused spine' was lost on the AISH worker making the decision.) But hey, I can appeal the decision so that's good! Appeal it I will! I will charm them with my banter and my rhetoric! I will stun them with the pieces of metal they pulled from my back! I will-
Wait, I'm sorry, what? Oh, you say because I am moving in with my boyfriend my financial eligibility now has to be reevaluated? You say because he is employed full time, and because we are living together, we are considered cohabitating and financially interdependent even though we are not financially interdependent? He doesn't pay for me, I don't pay for him. Oh, oh I see, that doesn't matter even though the legal terms for adult interdependent relationships in Alberta say that we have to be living together for three years? Oh? The rules don't apply to AISH? Well, why the hell do we even have- no, no don't answer it, I don't want to know.
So there you have it folks, now not only do I have to appeal my original rejections. I now have to appeal my financial eligibility based off of this ridiculous rule. Apparently the legal terms used in Alberta Legislation do not apply to AISH. Go figure.
Needless to say I was upset. This whole process has been going on for almost a year, and I am not getting in any less pain, nor am I miraculously getting richer. So, what do we say when we are upset by the Alberta Government?
Not today, Alberta Government.
Aaaand then we write a mass email to every. single. MLA. in. Alberta. (For the record, MLA's are our Members of the Legislative Assembly. They represent us on a provincial level. Essentially they go to bat for us in the legislature.) And when you write an email to every single MLA in Alberta decrying their poor treatment of you and the rest of the province, and telling them that they are pathetic and their laws are pathetic, and how ridiculous it is for someone in pain to be going through all this for a measly $200 bucks a month to cover medication... well, you eventually catch someone's attention.
Now, as it turns out, by moving to a new city I actually ended up moving into the Constituency of the Alberta Premiere. That's right, Alison Redford is my local MLA. As soon as I was told that I got the biggest shit-eating grin on my face, because who better to make waves at (or poke relentlessly in an effort to say "you there, notice me! Notice my pain!) than the person that is allegedly running the Province.
I got a lot of generic emails back. A lot of "Please tell us your address so we can forward this message to your MLA" yadda yadda. But then one email stood out above the rest. An email from another MLA in Calgary who is a member of the Wildrose Opposition Party. I don't like their politics, but I damn well appreciate what happened next. As it turned out, this MLA was the official Health Critic for the Opposition. Essentially, it is her job to hear these complaints and beat her fist in the legislature in an effort to draw attention to the problems. So I made contact with her assistant, who passed my angry (and perhaps vaguely insulting email) on to Premiere Redford's MLA office, as well as the office of the human services minister (who I still haven't heard from) and someone else (whose job is probably primarily to dance in a circle going "alalalala").
Well brilliant! Thank you for actually responding to my email! That made me happy. Then lo' and behold, I get back from school last week and there is a follow up email from the assistant asking if I had heard anything from them. When I told her no, she resent the email requests to the three offices and then emailed me right back to update me on the situation.
I'm not saying anything is going to happen. I will still end up appealing my financials, and if I don't end up winning that, I will still send my speech to every MLA and every newspaper in the Province in an effort to draw attention to the needs to those in Chronic Pain. I have an appointment with the Chronic Pain Clinic in the next month, so I'll speak to my nurse and ask her to help me go through the letter and see what else can be said. If it comes to that point, it won't be an appeal for help (at least not personally), but an appeal for attention to the problems of my Provincial Health Care System. Crusading by halves won't accomplish anything, but so help me god I will do whatever it takes to have people notice me and this problem that myself, and so many others must be suffering day in and day out.
And after that, well I suppose I'll just have to find something else to get mad at.