Pretty sure last time I talked about how cisplatin is the worst, and how I would hopefully be trying a different drug the next time. Well, I did. This cycle only had one day of treatment, with that other drug whose name I forget, and I’m at the end of the third week. I only have about six weeks left of chemo!!

But the other drug. I don’t want to say it’s worse than the cisplatin, but I think it’s just as bad — only in a different way. Peripheral neuropathy is driving me up a wall, though it was worst during the first week. And my stomach has felt gross so much of the time. I’m glad I’m going back to the cisplatin for the final two cycles. I got through three cycles of it before, after all.

At times, more frequent as the months have passed, I’ve felt extremely frustrated because my future is so uncertain and I’ve been unable to make long-term plans. (And by ‘long-term’ I mean ‘after August.’) What should I do for my birthday? Should I even be active on OKCupid at this point? Am I ever going to be able to work again? Is the cancer going to come back, or can it be cured? Can I ever afford to get this tattoo finished? What’s going to happen with my debt? Will I ever go to Disneyland again? Hell, will I ever travel again? Unresolved frustration leads me to depression, and this happened just when I’d run out of therapy appointments and forgotten to make more. So that sucks. But at least I’ve been able to unload on some online friends; it’s better than it could be!

And then! And then! I got! approved! for Disability! This is astonishing. I mean, it’s wonderful and will be soOoOo helpful, and suggests some answers to some of those questions above… but beyond anything else, it’s surprising as hell. This was the first time I applied. Cancer is a shoo-in, of course, but the future of my cancer is so uncertain; it’s not impossible it’ll be cured. And fibromyalgia isn’t something that usually gets you Disability benefits (though it really should). Of course I’ve got a few other things — ADHD, arthritis, and depression are the big ones — but I truly did not think they would approve it.

You know it took my uncle, who has M.S. (supposedly an automatic qualifier), years, multiple applications (or appeals), and a lawyer to get on Disability?? He’s barely mobile, blind in one eye, and I forget what else. (Well, I know his internal organs are reversed, but I don’t know that that’s ever caused him any problems.) So, yeah. I am incredibly grateful my application was approved. I did a gratitude ritual that same day, but I don’t know if the gratitude has even yet really hit home. I’m still just amazed. I keep thinking it can’t be real. And you know that feeling, similar to survivor’s guilt, where you feel bad and almost ashamed to have received something that other people should also have but don’t? Yeah, I’m all over that right now.

The approval came with its own sources of anxiety, though, because it raised a whole bunch of fairly crucial questions to which I couldn’t find answers. Government websites, man. Besides that, in eight days’ worth of trying, I’ve not once been able to talk to a living human being at the local Social Security office. The first time I called the number I found on the site to the national office, the call was intercepted by scammers. A scam recording — they didn’t even have the decency to talk to me in person.

The day before yesterday, however, I called that national number again, and this time got through to the real deal. And it just so happened that I connected with the nicest, most helpful, chattiest dude in the world. I mean, this guy was so friendly, answered all my questions, and then volunteered to sniff around in my account or whatever it’s called to see if there was anything else he could inform me or help me with. And he gave me two really huge pieces of information: first of all, there’s a form that sometimes allows disability beneficiaries to have their student loans forgiven. And secondly, I’m getting disability back pay (and here comes that guilt again) to the tune of $15,000. At this point I don’t have any more words to express my astonishment.

I haven’t managed to get hold of the form yet (since it has to come from the local Social Security office XD). I’ve paid off more than half of my student loans, so it’s down to approximately $18,000. Any kind of forgiveness would be amazing, because I have credit card debt of about that same amount, but I’m not counting on it. Either way, that back pay is going to take a great big chunk out of my overall debt. And I’m super glad that guy told me about it, because he says it could appear any time, and if I had checked my bank balance and seen that without warning, I think I would have had a heart attack.

Social Security did actually send a snail-mail, which arrived over a week after they informed me of the approval and the monthly amount online. The only additional information the paper letter contained was that I would be receiving back pay from a certain date; of course from that I could have figured out the total amount, but the letter didn’t mention the number or when/how that would be delivered. So well done again on the communication, SSA XD

OK, so this has turned into more of a financial than a medical update, but the two are inextricable in my mind at this point, and my current exhaustion stems from both chemo/cancer and continued shock at the good news.


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