Category Archives: Disability

We Turn Skeletons Into Goddesses

“We turn skeletons into goddesses and look to them as if they might teach us how not to need.” ~ Marya Hornbacher, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia ~

bev-at-the-beach-w

The young girl in this grainy image from the past is me. It pains me to look at her/me because I know she is hiding a secret. She’s hiding more than one secret. She’s standing behind this bright red beach float to hide. To hide her secrets – (1) that she thinks she is grossly fat; and (2) she has an eating disorder. She has anorexia and this is not the thinnest she will ever be.

I was officially diagnosed about four years after this picture was taken. Back then I don’t think eating disorders were understood the way they are today. My weight dropped below 100 pounds. My therapist helped me to see that eating disorders can be about control.

I am the oldest child in a family of three girls. My baby sister is a special needs individual and has been all her life. It was sad to see the sorrow of two parents who love their girls the way my parents loved their girls. I know it had to be hard to realize their baby would not have the type of life their oldest two would. It was sad as a sister to see my baby sister have some of the struggles she’s had. They loved us all and taught us we were valuable.

I’m also a perfectionist and OCD. And, I married poorly the first time around. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say he made Casper Milktoast look like the Man of Steel. So, a naive and somewhat innocent girl was forced into becoming a different person. Well, maybe and maybe it just made me stronger.

What it did do is make me never feel like I was enough.

I bet many of you understand what I’m saying…

So, of course, I became a person in which control had great meaning. I’m not talking the kind of control like mad-scientist-I’m-going-to-rule-the-world-control. I’m talking the kind of control I can have concerning my body and the world around me. Like I can count every calorie, every bite that goes into my mouth. I can choose not to eat for days and days. I can exercise all I want to – like 30 miles on my stationary bike and then go to the track and walk.

And, never, ever be out of control. Never. I have an aversion and fear of becoming addicted to anything. I’ve never been drunk and I am probably the last person on earth who has never – no, never, tried pot, weed, hashish or whatever you want to call it in any form. There, I said it.

Why am I telling you this now? Because I read a story today about a beautiful 18 year old girl named Brandy Vela who committed suicide in front of her parents and grandparents. Why? Because she was being mercilessly bullied by kids at her school who said she was fat.

God in heaven what kind of animals are we raising?

When we have kids driving an 18 year old child to suicide, we have more wrong in our society and more to worry about than BMI. It is that vapid, shallow mentality in our core societal beliefs that is turning us into gladiatorial animals as children.

And, what do you do with children who commit such vile acts? Right now, a Cersei-like  Game of Thrones Walk of Shame seems too good for these little creeps. Shame! Shame! Shame!

It has to stop.

We have to stop idolizing women who are size 0 as if this is some paragon of womanhood. We have to stop allowing momagers (mom/managers) from hawking their daughters like flesh and meat in the public market so they can become filthy rich off of our money. If we allow the selling of our daughters like that, how can we criticize other cultures who violate their daughters and women? We have to stop starving our children and sanctioning it via Federal government programs like lunch programs that leave our kids starving throughout the day.

Am I promoting poor health? Certainly not. Just common sense.

You see when I was struggling with my eating disorder, my best friend at the time weighed more than I did. Considerable more. But, she was far healthier. And, I never saw her as “less than”. She was a talented, wonderful, creative friend who became an oncologist nurse.

It is years later now. I am a terribly sick person – disabled. I’ve battled non-smoking lung cancer twice. I’d never lived with a smoker nor is there a history of it in my family. I have an aneurysm in my heart, autoimmune disorders, fibromyalgia, arthritis, hypothyroidism and other illnesses too many to number. Some of these cluster in my family – like the autoimmune disorders. But, I believe I did irreparable damage to my body and my health by starving myself with my eating disorder. I think I destroyed my metabolism. Just to try and be a skeletal goddess.

I recovered somewhat from my eating disorder and my weight “normalized”. I was always thin. But, as my health continued to fail I began to gain weight. My poor health, the medications and restrictions caused the weight gain – not the other way around. But, you see when people see me they don’t know that and they assume my poor health is due to my weight. Well, you know what they say about assuming. The one great thing about me? My blood sugar. That’s because I do know how to eat healthy.

I do get some bullying now because of my weight – societal bullying. I am not going to let that fall on me and accept it as my burden to carry.

There are some reasons. First, almost 13 years ago I remarried my Tall & Handsome who lets me know every day he loves me and I am beautiful. He lets me know I am enough – not only for him but also for the whole wide world. I am so glad I never gave up.

Take that bullies…

And, I refuse to let people who don’t know me define me. You do not walk in my shoes, you do not know my journey and God forbid you ever, ever have to know my battles.

To the young girls out there like the beautiful Brandy Vela, I say this to you. Prove your tormentors wrong. Sweet, beautiful child, you are so above them. This too will pass and one day you will realize your value and life will be worth your battles. I promise.

Your tormentors are skeletons – hallowed out shells. And, they try to turn other skeletons into goddess. Misery loves company.

But, guess what?  You my child are what we love, want, and need. You are our heart.

Stay with us.

Please.

© 2016 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Anorexia, Brandy Vela, Bullying, cancer, Child Welfare, Children, Disability, Eating Disorders, Family, Health, Life, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Women's health

Colors at the Beach, by Beverly Hicks Burch

colors at the beach

There are certain rewards to climbing 114 stairs to the top of a lighthouse…the view being at the top of the list.

To many of you those 114 steps may not seem to be a big deal, but for me it was a milestone and major accomplishment. For, you see I am disabled. I have a very diminished lung capacity after having non-smoking lung cancer twice that resulted in having major portions of both lungs removed. Add to that autoimmune disorders, fibromyalgia,  osteoarthritis and last year the diagnosis of an atrial septal aneurysm in my heart. (And, that’s the short list…)

So each step was like the Tim McGraw song, “Live Like You Were Dying”. The fact that I lost my beloved aunt less than a month ago also motivated me along. Aunt LaRue suffered with many of the same illness and then some. Her final years were so limited by what she could do and where she went. It was torture for her because she was a curious adventurous soul at heart. So, with each step I thought of Aunt LaRue and how I was still here and can still live…

Granted my ascent was slow. Many climber passed us on the way up and Tall & Handsome insisted I stop after every 10 steps and rest. (Confession is there were pauses on those 10 step sets.)

But, when I got to the top and stepped outside…there was my reward…a 360 degree panoramic view, fresh cooler air, a brisk wind to cool me off and the proud smile of my champion T & H.

I tried to stay as long as I could…

I took in every thing all around me and for some reason things from the top seemed much more vibrant and colorful. I was particularly taken by the kaleidoscope of colors and shapes in this picture. Who would have thought a parking lot could be such a happy looking place?

Things just look different from the view at the top…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Aunt LaRue, Beach Pictures, Disability, Harbour Town Lighthouse, Hilton Head Island, Lighthouses, Live Like You Were Dying, Photography, Picture of the Day, Road Trip, South, South Carolina, Tall & Handsome, The South, Travel, Traveling with disabilities

Could Caffeine Help Dry Eye?

Could Caffeine Help Dry Eye?.

A new article from WebMD suggests there could be some relief for dry eyes in the future from caffeine. This is a promising possibility for those of us that suffer from this chronic condition.

As someone who as battled Sjorgren’s syndrome for over 20 years now, dry eyes is a constant issue for me. My tear film is totally gone and has been for several years. It causes a lot of discomfort and problems with my eyes. Just the past few months I’ve had more sty problems than it seems I have had my entire life.

I use Restasis, a prescription medication for dry eyes, but it is very expensive and unaffordable without insurance. I have found the GenTeal gel drops and ointment a tremendous help and they are OTC.

Give the article a look…hopefully there is some potential relief in the future…

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Filed under Autoimmune Diseases, Disability, Dry Eye Relief, Dry Eyes, GenTeal Gel Drops, Health, Health News, Medical News, Sjogren's Syndrome, WebMD, Women's health

New criteria proposed for diagnosing fibromyalgia

New criteria proposed for diagnosing fibromyalgia.

Years…and I mean years ago I was first diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I think the year was 1990 when the “official” diagnosis was made, but I had been suffering with the symptoms since the early 1980s.

My beloved family physician who has since passed away was very well read and stayed current on many medical trends. He saved my lived twice by discovering lung cancer in a patient with little or no risk factors to give her even a modicum of a chance of even thinking “lung cancer” will afflict my body…but it did anyway and Dr. James S. Davies was smart enough to catch it and save my life…

Anyway, during the 1980s when these “non-specific” symptoms began to rear their ugly head, Dr. Davies said there was a lot of talk about a new kind of illness or syndrome that doctors were having a hard time “pegging” but that a lot of people were showing up with…he said it was kind of like having mono all the time and never getting rid of it…that was the best way to describe it back then…

By 1990 there was a young doctor who was in practice with Dr. Davies for a while and he was pretty sharp, too. He diagnosed my Raynaud’s Syndrome and between him and Dr. Davies they were able to put their finger on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Here is where we begin to see that as far back as 1990 our health care system was “sick” itself. At the time I was insured under the ex’s plan at work which was Blue Cross/Blue Shield. They refused to pay for any of the blood work, tests and visits that were done at the the time because of the diagnosis…”chronic fatigue syndrome”.

Not only was I livid, I was curious…this bill was several hundred dollars…a substantial amount even for those days. I was told by BC/BS they would not pay for anything related to chronic fatigue syndrome because it was a mental disorder and not covered.

Being the bright gal that I am I explained to BC/BS that no indeed, there was enough research done on the subject that suggested several causes for CFS not the least of which could be a retrovirus and that I was certainly not insane, crazy or mentally ill, but I certainly would be after dealing with them…

They were not amused…

The only way BC/BS would pay was if the diagnosis was changed…so the doctors simply took the word “syndrome” off the diagnosis and viola the bill got paid! They would pay for chronic fatigue…period…

Later, fibromyalgia became the talked about subject and I can tell you it clusters in my family making me wonder if there is some kind of genetic link…my momma had FMS and so does her sister, my maternal aunt…

A few years later after being referred to the rheumatologist who diagnosed my Sjogren’s syndrome (1993), he confirmed fibromyalgia…

The debate is this…are CFS and FMS one and the same or two separate issues?

All I know is this…either/or make you very sick, debilitate you, alter your life and change the quality of your life…forever…there is no getting better. It is about more than just the pain…which is indescribable…it is the muscle weakness…the disabling fatigue…the stomach problems…yes, the dizziness…the whole enchilada as they say. The above link to the article and the information therein is, in my opinion, a long time coming when it comes to calling out everything that goes with FMS.

All I can say is…it’s about time!

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Filed under "Autoimmune disorders", Autoimmune Diseases, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Disability, Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Health, Healthcare, Lung Cancer, Sjogren's Syndrome, Women's health

Yeah, Though I Walk Through the Valley, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Yeah, Though I Walk Through the Valley

By Beverly Hicks Burch

Struggle. Dog-paddling. Coming up for the last breath. I call it “the elephant sitting on my chest”. Some of you will know immediately what I am talking about…others will think Bev has lost her ever loving mind…and some days lately it has certainly felt like it. Others of you will think this is not a very appropriate thing to write about at this time of the year, but actually, it is. The holidays are known to be an emotionally rough time for some people to cope. At least, this will update you, fill you in, catch you up, explain some things and educate you all in one fell swoop. Never underestimate the power of the written word…

First and foremost, I have not tuned out, dropped out and forgotten everyone and everything…or my writing. It’s just been a struggle, that well, I was hoping was coming to some kind of an end. Instead it has protracted and stretched out like a big grotesque rubber band that I’m just waiting to snap back and pop. It can only stretch so far before it breaks or snaps back or I can cut that puppy and prevail! But, let me start at the beginning…

As I sit here writing, I think of all the people across the world scurrying around getting ready for the upcoming holidays. Our scurrying now days is more like dragging our weary backside behind us. Tall & Handsome and I had a bleak, non-existent Thanksgiving (we were both sick) and Christmas is shaping up that way…there is no decorating at the Burch house, no gift wrapping…we are hoping to make the day special, eventful and remember the occasion, spirit and purpose of Christmas Day and have a meal here at the house. That’s it…

So much has happened…and it won’t stop…

Yes, we did complete the move and thought things were moving along just peachy. We had a projected closing date of the end of November on both houses. But, we began to get concerned when we weren’t hearing a definite date from my tenant’s (who decided to buy my house) mortgage broker. She assured him, us and our realtor that everything was fine and that he HAD been approved for his mortgage to buy my house in Alabama. (She talked to our realtor via the phone and assured her that he HAD been approved and everything was fine.)

Then, late on Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving, he called Tall & Handsome at work and dropped the bomb that he had been denied his loan!

Ok, remember that education part? Insert first educational moment here…Come to find out, more accurate and to the point, his mortgage broker was charging him $666 a month PMI…Primary Mortgage Insurance. PMI is paid if you do not make a full minimum down payment and typically industry standards are .5 – 1% of the loan amount a year. In other words, on a $207, 000 mortgage, PMI would typically run about $86 a month.

They were charging him way too much…even our mortgage broker said something squirrelly was going on at his end with his people. What the tenant/buyer of my house in Alabama’s mortgage broker was charging was the equivalent of about 5%…way above industry standard. It was the equivalent of sneaking up the interest on his mortgage to 12%!! Well, the man couldn’t afford that…who could?! No wonder the mortgage industry is going bust with deals like that in the making…

So, with his mortgage in jeopardy, that placed T & H’s and mine in the same boat, because we were waiting on the equity out of that house for the down payment on this house. My first instinct is not to crumble, but believe there is an answer, a solution…a fix. Mentally, I went into fixing mode.

We scrambled to come up with Plan A; Plan B; Plan C…you get the idea. Our next option was to hold the note for him for 2 – 3 years, after he made a down payment, and then he would have to refinance after that 2 – 3 year period and procure his own financing. He thought about it (along with his Mom who was going to help him buy the house) and then at the last minute decided to back out and just continue to rent/lease.

Okay…flush down payment down the toilet…

Go to Plan ZZZ…whatever, for this house. Our mortgage broker is great and had some different options…we had been approved for our mortgage for ages…then something very strange happened…and here is where my optimism begins to flag and drag…or at least get weary…

Next educational moment provided by Bev U inserted here…our broker called one morning and said while he was working on one of our options; it appeared that T & H’s credit had dropped seemingly over night. WHAT?! We were flummoxed…nothing had really changed.

So we all put our collective heads together, did some digging and discovered what it was. Remember when I had to trade in that ol’ lead sled during the move? Well, I had already secured financing, but the dealership assured us they could get us a better rate. Tall & Handsome told them to go ahead and see if they could, but we had no idea they would butcher us. They pulled T & H’s credit 17 times and each time they pulled his credit it reduced his credit rating by substantially. Each hit was a reduction…

Now according to the Federal Trade Commission, what the car dealership did was wrong. There is a way they could do the rate shopping without decimating or harming someone’s credit rating. The car dealership should have pulled “soft credit checks” instead of “hard credit checks”. So, FYI, please do not allow this to happen to you. This information is available on the FTC’s website.

While all of this has gone on, the dragon-lady realtor pulled our agent out of the picture and sent her Lord knows where and said, she, the dragon-lady herself, would represent both parties, seller and buyer (us) for the remainder of the transaction. She was the sellers agent from the beginning…so you can begin to see where this road is leading. To a place called Real Estate Purgatory. Everything she has done has verged on unethical and had been purely slanted for the sellers. We’ve not had an agent representing out interest in the transaction now for weeks.

We had stopped packing because we wanted to make sure the house was going to close before we unpacked a lot more…we didn’t want to have to pack up a whole house to move else where. The realtor was already saying she had a “hot buyer” which was odd because the house was under contract with us, there was no sign in the yard, no MLS listing and we were living in the house and renting it. Was she selling it on the side? (Just today, with our closing date days away, her office calls and set up a showing for the house tomorrow. If you put the old MLS number in the system for our house the search comes back “No listing found”. Who’s feeding these agents that the house can show?)

The realtor came by the 1st Sunday of December to collect the rent for the owners, who she said had driven by and seen the boxes in the windows. She said they had a message for us, which was to start unpacking again…that we were going to work all of this out. Three days later, the realtor sent us an addendum saying if we didn’t close by the end on the month we would have to vacate and forfeit our substantial earnest money. Strictly mind games and high pressure…

(This while we were kept out of the house for a week because the sellers turned the utilities off instead of transferring them to us. The power company confirmed this to me. So we paid them rent AND a hotel room for almost a week. The rent is supposed to be prorated, but the realtor has yet to do it…and her closing agent/assistant has told me she is helping the sellers pay their double mortgages. How fair is that?!)

I had become deathly sick and when T & H went to the pharmacy to get my meds, he discovered when we moved, his company’s HR had for some inexplicable reason removed me from his insurance!!! Ok, another elephant to remove off chest and make disappear…

Then the dragon-lady realtor called a meeting at the sellers’ new home…kind of like a “go to the principal’s office type of thing” for a dressing down, shaming and intimidation session which was totally inappropriate…and I was still too ill to go…

So where are we today? Well, it does look we may be able to close before the end of the month, BUT…yes, you know there had to be one. When the house was built, it was built without a handrail and banister on the front porch. Now, that is against the code and FHA will not close the loan until a banister and hand rail is installed.

Inexplicably, get this one…the SELLERS/REALTOR seem to expect us to put the handrail up on THEIR house they have been trying to sell for months before they will close. The handrail has reared its head before. The home inspection caught it, and I insisted something be compensated for it because the inspector said it was a safety issue. At first they said they wouldn’t do anything until I said I would be glad to get the county building inspector involved. They then agreed to compensate toward a banister and hand rail. Now, the dragon-lady realtor, SR, is saying the house is sold “AS IS” and we the BUYERS have to install the handrail…of course, she’s watching out for our best interest, too, don’t you know. We are appealing to the sensibilities of all…and hope reasonable ones prevail.

We have been on the real estate hamster wheel of Hades…

Then, with these other teeny, tiny things going on, I had my annual “filling out of the papers with the disability people” and a doctor’s appointment with my specialist in Birmingham. It’s a good thing I went. He discovered I was very deficient in Vitamin D and a new “friend” has joined Club Bev.

Club Bev is now housing Rheumatoid Arthritis and is exchanging emails with her doctor about treatment. In discussion, Methotrexate, a medication usually used in chemotherapy, but also used in low doses as a disease modifying drug for RA. My aunt has taken it for years.

So, is our chin scraping the floor? Nope. Are we beat up and worn out? Yep! Would we like a break? You better believe it!

But, folks, I’ve determined that it’s not uncommon to the human condition to have these up and downs and peaks and valleys. I’m sure there are a lot of you out there that feel like I do right now and are saying, “Bev, I’ve had a big ol’ bulldozer come through and plough a city-wide valley in my life for the last several years!”

Well, my friend, that will just make it easier for that mountain-fresh air to rush down and breathe relief into your life! Relief will come…it always does in some way, some form, some fashion. It may take time…but it will come…just remember Job…

It may come in a kind word, a hug, a phone call, a new friend…or when your Tall & Handsome walks into you life and commits an act of love that is so simple and so pure and so sweet it will literally break your heart with tenderness…

In the middle of all of “this” that has been going on, my health has been a causality. One particular time I was so sick that I couldn’t sleep for days, and then I finally had to sleep and could sleep. T & H knew things were getting what he calls “critical”. I was developing that “Rocky Raccoon” look. I vaguely remember him going out and running errands.

When he came back, he had brought in some nourishing food…he knew it had been a while since I had eaten. He saw to it that I ate properly. And then, that six foot, long and lanky guy picked up a bag and sat down by me and said, “Honey, I have a little surprise for you. Let me show you. I notice how you’re always doing things with your nails.”

He pulled a new manicure set out of the bag and proceeded to set by me and give me a manicure…no, not on one finger, but, on all ten fingers! After he was finished, he gently rubbed cuticle oil into the bed of my nails. How can I not begin to see peaks after that?!

So, as Christmas Day approaches I am most grateful for that sweet, caring, loving man who supports and understands me and the promise that tomorrow brings…

King David said it well…

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow…I will fear no evil, for You are with me… Psalm 23:4 NASB

And that friends, goes a long way in removing the Fear Factor…

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under "Autoimmune disorders", Christmas, Disability, Holidays, Methotrexate, Moving, Primary Mortgage Insurance, Real Estate, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Stress, Tall & Handsome

The Tax Man Cometh, by Beverly Hicks Burch

The Tax Man Cometh

By Beverly Hicks Burch

I bet you’re reading the title of this blog and thinking you know what it’s all about…well, you do…and you don’t…kinda…sorta… Clear as mud isn’t it? It’s like taxes and a lot of other things in the good ol’ US of A at the moment.

Let me explain and give a little background and tell you where I’m coming from and I will share a couple of personal experiences with you to illustrate. But, first let me ask you a question. Do you know how long you worked this year to pay off your taxes? How long did you work for the government…to pay for the taxes imposed by various governmental agencies? According to the Tax Foundation this year’s Tax Freedom Day was April 30th…four days later this year than last year…but, surprisingly down from previous years when the average American had to work well into the month of May to pay off their tax debt. The idea of an income tax is a relatively new one in this country. The concept was accepted and ratified by Congress in the Sixteenth Amendment in 1913. This amendment gave Congress the right to impose a permanent income tax on the American public.

Every pay check a big chunk of your check is taken out in what is called FICA taxes. Do you know what FICA taxes are? A simplified definition would be – those are you Social Security (6.2% of your wages) taxes. These taxes are part of FDR’s New Deal of the 1930’s Depression relief programs and promises. In the 1960’s Medicare was added to be covered by the FICA taxes.

Why on earth is Bev thinking and writing about this subject? Well, I read something the other morning and it also reflects back on a personal trial I had to go through. Let me share with you…sounds “touchy feely” doesn’t it?

One morning I was going through some magazines, sifting through, throwing out, etc. In a news magazine I came across a couple of articles juxtaposed on the same page that I found very interesting. One was by John Stossel and the other was anonymous.

Mr. Stossel was making the point of how large government has become. He made some interesting points:

  • Springfield, NJ economist, consultant and forecaster Gary Shilling reports that 52.6% of Americans receive substantial public (read governmental) aid, assistance or monies. This is up from 49.4% in the year 2000. In the year 1950 that number was 28.3%. Mr. Shilling predicts that by the year 2040 60% of Americans will be living off taxpayers. That my friend is you and me and our children and grandchildren. The funds will come out of our pockets and we will work how many hours, how many months it takes to pay for that? It would be interesting to know if those numbers are based on current population factors and/or if they factor in the possibility of adding 11 – 12 million illegal aliens to our burgeoning entitlement system and government trough.
  • 1 out of 5 (that translates into 20%) Americans work for the government, or a firm that depends on taxpayer funding.
  • 1 in 5 (or 20%) draws Social Security or a Federal pension. This number will grow as the baby boomer generation ages and moves on to Social Security.
  • 9 million people are on food stamps
  • 2 million receive housing subsidies
  • 5 million go to school on federal taxpayer dollars – many student loans are defaulted and many are paid off at a discount
  • The Cato Institute estimates nearly 1,700 federal subsidy programs spending billions of dollars each year.

Now, also on the same page was another article. This article reported a survey conducted by the Mexican daily El Universal. The results were interesting at least and stunning at worst. According to the survey:

  • 45% of Mexican citizens have at least one relative living north of the border in the USA
  • 61% said the money sent back home to Mexico from those relatives is “very important” to their welfare

Whether here legally or illegally, authorities estimate Mexican nationals living in the USA send $23 billion back to Mexico in “remittances”. These remittances are Mexico’s second largest source of foreign income…behind their petroleum income. The Pew Hispanic Center reports that many US banks and credits unions are now setting up programs to help legal and illegal nationals send these remittances back to their homeland. Author’s note: If these nationals are paid “off the books” as is done with many day laborers, house help, child care workers, farm laborers, etc. they are paid in cash and therefore, no taxes are paid on these monies.

First, don’t get me wrong. I am a student of history. I have seen our regal Lady Liberty in New York harbor and she is inspiring. I have been many places in this grand big country of ours and I can tell you one thing. We are truly a melting pot. We are a land of immigrants…English, Irish, Italian, German, Polish, Russian, French, African, Asian, Spanish, Mexican and more… All of you reading this at this very moment had ancestors that came to this country from some where…some earlier than others…even our Native Americans probably crossed the Bering Strait to become the Native Americans.

But, our ancestors did one thing…they had a different attitude than we see today. They began to merge…to meld…to become one, to make one country…this United States of America.

We do have a problem with illegal aliens…regardless of nationality. Let me ask you this question…Do you think you could go to any nation on this planet and behave like the illegals do in this country? Take the same liberties? Take advantage of the system? Of the people? Of the economy? Of the government? Not in a New York minute…

To be remedial let me make a point here: If I had some flour, some butter, some apples, some sugar, spices and a few other ingredients that’s all they are…separate ingredients, each to their own, by themselves, alone in separate stacks and locations. But, if I combine and meld these ingredients together, I have not diminished them. No, I have made a wonderful, juicy, tasty, succulent apple pie. And what could be more American than Apple Pie? That pie is the sum of its parts just like America is the sum of her people when we meld together and become one nation.

One of the points in the debate on the illegal alien situation has been the point that they are honest, hard working people, paying taxes and contributing to our economy. I have no problem if that is true and with legal nationals in the country doing so. I have serious questions about that when I see $23 billion of our economy being hijacked to another country and with the issues I raised above…monies being paid “off the books” and taxes avoided. I would pose this question: Would the government of Mexico or any other country allow the reverse to happen? Would they allow $23 billion of their economy to be sent North of the border in remittance by legal or illegal aliens in their country?

Now, let me tell you a dirty little secret. This system, the “Great American I’m Going To Take Care Of You System” doesn’t work…at least not for everyone. I know. I found out the hard way. Let me share a very painful experience and at very eye opening time in my life…in more ways than one. Please bear with me here…there is a point…

So, what does a middle class white woman know about being disenfranchised? Well, here’s just part of my story… On May 24, 2001, my son’s 21st birthday, after almost 27 years of marriage, my ex, Gomez the Unremarkable decided to walk out. He had a new honey in his life. A co-worker, Morticia…one with money…that’s really important to him. After much deception, lying, cover-up and just general over all low life behavior he finally confessed to the fact they had been carrying on for about 18 months.

When I looked back over those 18 months, I realized there was a point when he tried to convince me sell our home and buy a home close to her and her then husband and three children. She had confessed to her husband she and Gomez had planned on staying with us until she had seen 12 year old son through college, THEN they were going to dump us and finally get together. If Gomez and I had moved down by them it would have been more convenient for Gomez and Morticia. It was also about this time that Gomez would go on rants about how he couldn’t understand why my father couldn’t “gift” us with large chunks of cash…like $10,000 at a time like a co-worker had done with his family. (It wasn’t enough my dad had given us the down payment for our home to begin with…I look back now and see that if he could have gotten his hands on those larger sums of cash, he could have moved into the neighborhood closer to Morticia,)

When our parting of ways happened our son was out of state attending SERE training in conjunction with the USAF and the Alabama National Guard. It was a grueling time for him…and for me. I was in a type of SERE training myself…for those of you not familiar with SERE it is a type of survival training.

Here is where it gets interesting…and this is why I told you all of that. When Gomez left, he cleaned out the bank accounts…yep, he was one of those. He also told me he didn’t give a f**king g*damn what I did for healthcare. You see, I had already had lung cancer twice and had been diagnosed with multiple autoimmune disorders, Raynaud’s syndrome, Fibromyalgia and other chronic health problems.

I was what they called a displaced homemaker…and Gomez was on a tear. I had worked full time years earlier, but after our son was born, stayed at home, other than some occasional part-time work when I paid into the system. I had helped Gomez run some home-based businesses (one he started with funds from my father) while he worked at the office (at a job my dad had a hand in getting him) and for an extended time I did free-lance work for a former employer at home. All the time, I paid my taxes…even in our home based businesses. I had also home-schooled our son for several years so he could take advantage of the opportunities of travel associated with the ex’s work. I had been a very busy, very involved wife, mother and woman.

In addition I helped Gomez restore and renovate two homes and add onto one home. I was the caretaker, chauffer, bookkeeper, nurse, cook, assistant renovator and any other job needed of the family. Gomez went to work, cut the grass and on occasion took the garbage out.

Then, my health began to take its toll and he didn’t like that…he told me so when he left. He said, “I didn’t want to take care of you, I didn’t like taking care of you, but, I did, so there.” Compassionate cuss, huh? (Really big newsflash – uh, no, Gomez you didn’t take care of me. Remember that little thing called a vow? Sorry little guy, you failed the test.) I guess he forgot I took care of him when he broke his neck in a car accident after we had been married only 18 months.

I had skills, but very poor health…and he knew that.

And, there is a reason I tell you all of that. You see, during the divorce Gomez got himself a lawyer whose father was one of the only three judges in our little county in Alabama where our divorce was being adjudicated. Yep. Bet you can see this train wreck coming. I got a good attorney and dectective that caught Gomez and Morticia in the act of very compromising situations. But, because my attorney wasn’t part of the county good-ol’-boy system a lot of my contempt charges against him and other papers against Gomez were “lost”.

In addition, during the hearing for temporary support after my attorney made the point that I was a woman in poor health and had been out of the workplace for over 20+ years, the ex’s attorney got up, waved his hand and said “oh yeah, you’ve had your gall bladder or something removed” which at the time I still had, but, have since have had removed while being married to Tall & Handsome. Let me tell you…surgery with a man like him is a totally different experience! It’s all about compassion which T & H has in spades. At the time of the divorce, I’d only had 60% of my left lung removed and a portion of my right lung removed because of cancer (and I was a non-smoker). Gomez knew that but, allowed his attorney to bellow on about “gall bladders”. Disingenuous and mendacity…they were birds of a feather.

Gomez became very upset that I hired a lawyer…he felt that he should have been the only one to have legal representation. He told me, “I told my attorney you were reasonable and would get your legal help off the internet.” He marched up to the house with an offer for my dad and me to look over and said, “If you don’t accept this by such and such time, it won’t be here for you.” In other words…I’m playing hardball and will break your back. My dad knew I needed legal help.

When I got an attorney, Gomez went ballistic. He played voodoo economics with the support the judge mandated…got away with it and left me penniless. One month he mailed me two dollar bills and three coins taped on a sheet of paper. (That’s when he decided he wanted one of my sewing machines.) He told my father I needed to be taught a lesson and he said he wanted to see me “wrong” for once. Huh? Newsflash…I was wrong big time…on November 27, 1974. Yes, girls, I learned the hard way…love shouldn’t hurt.

I had no income and he knew it…and reveled in it. He was on a tear to destroy me. He called my aunt in Florida and told her that without him, I would be dead in five years. (Question: If he really believed that, does that sound like attempted premeditated murder or unbelievable self importance?) He also told her that my elderly parents had deep pockets and could take care of me, but forgot to mention the fact they have a mentally and physically disabled daughter at home full time.

Why am I telling you this? Remember the “system”? “The Great American I’m Going to Take Care of You System”? Well, it doesn’t work for everyone. I know. I tried to avail myself of it during this traumatic time. When I needed my meds, food, doctor visits, utility bills paid…but, nope…uh huh, not for Bev…I tried more agencies, both non-profit and government, than I care to remember…and the response was the same…“You don’t fit the profile.” Huh, what the heck does that mean? I had a need, I’ve paid my taxes, I’ve donated…now, why don’t I fit the profile? I was up to my eyeballs in need!

My next “light bulb” experience came a couple of years later. I had gone to work for a large insurance company in their hybrid claims/call center after my divorce. I loved the job. It was a job with purpose. It was also a job with high stress and demands…a job that takes it toll on a person with autoimmune disorders and Fibromyalgia and the company itself was not very concerned with the disabled. Fortunately, I did have long-term disability coverage.

I gave it a valiant try, but my health really started to decline. I collapsed at work one day and had to be taken to the ER…that little ride cost me over $1,000 out of pocket…money I didn’t really have…you see, I got the first and second mortgage (which included paying for a Ford Explorer Gomez added to the second mortgage about six weeks before he left)…and one morning on the way to work I blacked out and rear-ended the vehicle in front of me. Fortunately I was coming to a stop sign but, since I was in the process of coming to a stop there was no damage to either car.

By the time my specialist removed my from work, I was in unbearable pain, had gone almost a week without sleep, could only manage to sit at my station without an ice pack and was on steroid treatment. I went through my FMLA, short term disability and then started the process for my long term disability. It was a tough haul.

One of the things I had to do during the process was apply for my Social Security Disability. And, this my friends, was the other light bulb moment. Remember me telling you about all of those taxes? And all of those years I paid into the system? After filling out numerous forms, going through several interviews, sending doctor file after file (which I had to pay for), I finally got my verdict. Denied. Why? I hadn’t worked enough quarters before I was declared disabled to get my disability…even though I’ve paid thousands of dollars into the system…and even though there are people that have never worked…and aren’t citizens that are getting some kind of Social Security, Medicare, Aid for Dependant Children for themselves or their family. Gee, wish I’d known that years ago!

I also discovered that all those years I sat up through the night getting an engraving job finished while Gomez slept or I sat on a John Deere tractor cutting a soccer field…well, Gomez took the full self-employed FICA tax credit for that instead of dividing it with me in our home based businesses. The income I would have gotten from my SS disability would have supplemented my long term disability and made a big difference in my life…and I paid into the system for years. C’est la vie…

These have been extremely frustrating lessons to discover. I’ve always had a soft spot for the underdog and seeing the right thing done. To see the system not work…not just once, but on several occasions in my case has been, well, it is disheartening. But, I am a survivor. So far, I have beat cancer twice and on a daily basis I deal with other chronic health issues. I almost died in October 2005, and I survived that episode. I’ve had a support system in faith, family and I met and fell in love with a man with big blue eyes and a heart as big as the sky in his southwestern home state. Compassion like his is rare not only in men…but, in most people nowadays.

I fear for people who do not understand that the system does not and will not always work for you. Just because the tax man cometh, doesn’t mean your fair share will be there should something go awry in your life…and that’s wrong…very wrong. Yes, this should be a land of equal opportunity and chances, but we do not promise equal outcome…that is left up to the individual. We have to fix the system so that it works for all Americans and so that America continues to be the great nation our Founding Fathers laid the foundation for.

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under "Big Government", "Gary Shilling", "Illegal Aliens", "John Stossel", "SERE Training", "Social Security", AKA Gomez the Unremarkable, Disability, Divorce, FICA, Gomez, Immigration, Taxes