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Manual for Carrying Elephants: Supplies and Maintenance

January 12, 2010

In my quest for a post-graduation job, I seem to have run out of health insurance. Regardless of my feelings about Nelson, Stupak, and other amendments to the federal bill, I think a bit of help in the health insurance market would be a good thing right about now. I am perfectly willing to have a frank discussion with any “no” voting senator about why he or she should change that vote to a “yes.” Because, you see, I’m considered one big pre-existing condition, which means that I can’t buy my own insurance.

The upshot of all this is that today I headed over to the local social services administration to see if I could get emergency disability health insurance. It turns out that I can. I am amazed by this — as much as I read and talk about disability and needing more disability-accessible services, I am really shocked that someone out there, who doesn’t know me, thinks I count as disabled.

It’s a weird feeling — like something just clicked. Like me and me-as-I-appear are, for once, the same individuals.

The day was a long one, and took seven hours of waiting in various lines. Other than the length of the trip, a few things stood out to me:

Food: I thought it would be a much shorter trip (say, 45 minutes? An hour?) and hadn’t eaten breakfast. I often don’t eat in the morning. But by 4pm this afternoon, my stomach was beginning to sound like someone was playing the drums in there. There also weren’t any places to get food nearby, which makes me think.. I don’t know what. That people using public services don’t need to eat?

Diversity: I was really surprised by the mix of people who were going in and out. My assumption was that many people would look poor, but there were several businesswomen, some veterans, a mix of ethnic groups, and several people my age. All of these were unexpected. At one point, a woman who was probably 25-30 and frankly so buff that I was scared to say anything to her, looked over and smiled at me, and she had the friendliest eyes I’ve seen.

Entrepreneurship: Part of the reason I’m where I am right now is that my grad school had seriously inadequate career services, health care continuance, or anything related to leaving the school. I mentioned to my interviewer that the school’s disability services had said that they couldn’t offer me any support or information about graduation, and she responded that that was an unmet need, clearly. I could help fill that need, she said, get information out there.

All in all, it was a surprising visit. People and processes were not at all what I expected them to be.

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